All posts in What you missed

  • Top Trends Driving Change in Communication

    Our career-building workshop in January tackled Top Trends Driving Change in Communication and provided a forum for discussion on how best to meet these changes. We started with an introduction to 5 of the most sweeping changes that are certain to affect communication professionals everywhere. We then asked a few simple questions to get the conversation started. Try answering our questions yourself to assess how well you’re ready to meet change — or develop a personalized career development plan. The top trends are below. Here are the questions to keep in mind:

    • What changes are you seeing in your world?
    • How do these or other changes affect what you need to know/learn to be successful now and on your career path?
    • What one thing can you do to position yourself to meet these trends proactively as you plan your career building strategy?

    1. Personalization of Brand Messaging

    This refers to both ends of the messaging spectrum. How information is gathered and how we approach our consumers and other stakeholders.

    What began decades ago as the ability to individualize direct mail with a person’s name, has become an expectation that — if your company wants my business — you’ll know my buying history and preferences, and my friends. And you’ll tailor your interactions with me to how and when I want to hear from you.

    Amazon developed the initial blueprint for how to do this exceedingly well. And now brick-and-mortar stores – like Target – are using GPS to track in-store buying habits, too.

    When it comes to outreach, personalized branding can be as sophisticated as recognizing a customer by name when they click on a company’s website, or as simple as Coke’s “share-a-coke-with” campaign. (Which was one of the most successful in Coke’s history.)

    2. Changing Visual Trends

    Massive changes within the visual arts are occurring across the spectrum of communication — photography, gifs to gifys, video, podcasts… In short, as the amount of information we communicate continues to explode — and as technology advances — our messages must be immediate, simple, succinct, meaningful and clear.

    To meet the changing demands, a new role has emerged: visual designers. Rather than just bringing brands to life, visual designers play a key role in defining what goes into a brand’s unique style and voice. These folks have to explain the design concepts and the decisions behind their work.

    Fast Company says: Brands will have to become more nimble and executed both more quickly and simultaneously across all channels.

    3. New and Emerging Platforms

    Do a Google search for collaboration tools and Go-To-Meeting, an early standard, doesn’t show up in the top 10 search results. Slack, Google Docs, Confluence, Skype for Business, IBM Notes, Microsoft Teams, iMeet, Open Meetings, Trello, RealtimeBoard… These are a few of the collaborative platforms transforming how work gets done.

    And collaboration tools is just one category of new software that’s transforming how we communicate with one another. If you’re not versed in these — along with the plethora of emerging virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile apps being used to communicate with customers, team members and clients — you may be out of step with your peers.

    4. Gamification

    In terms of data collection, gamification is all around us. Facebook uses fun quizzes and surveys to collect information about its users. From this information they can create a stunningly accurate snapshot of an individual’s political views, furniture and fashion style preferences and much more. You can now access that information from Facebook for a fee.

    Gamification can also be used to increase engagement and build relationships with customers. M&M’s created a Where’s Waldo-like game to introduce a product extension in the form of Pretzel Guy. A small part of a massive marketing campaign, it was fun, charming, engaging and enormously effective. It resulted in more than 26,000 likes, 6200 shares and 11,000 comments in its initial launch.

    5. Media Fragmentation and Loss of Trust

    It’s probably no surprise to anyone to say that the public has lost trust in what they read and see as “news,” which dramatically affects the PR side of communication. Companies must be open and transparent in how they do business or they’ll lose stakeholder trust. The same is true from a marketing perspective. Customers want to feel good about the brands they use. And for consumers to feel good, brands must do good. Subaru’s share-the-love campaign for example. A full 90% of Americans say they are more likely to trust and feel loyal to brands that give back to social causes in some way.


  • InterCom Holiday Party at the Union

    InterCom members, friends and guests filled the front area of the The Union Cabaret and Grille with warmth and good cheer on a cold Thursday night, to toast the holiday season. Kalamazoo Mall lights twinkled through the windows, and festive headgear helped keep spirits light, or at least provoked some giggles. A drawing produced some happy winners of New Years Eve tickets, a gift basket from the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, a Union gift card, and more!

    Thank you to all who attended this event.

    Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more photos!

  • The Customer’s Journey- Eric Hultgren, Mlive Media Group

    Eric Hultgren, who has background in Radio, now works at Mlive Media Group. He spoke to us at our last
    Friday about igniting a passion for social media and talked about how “it’s never been easier to be average”. Instead of selling or banging people over the head with ads–start with a story. The power of storytelling is the best form of digital marketing.

    Before 1990, all we had was traditional marketing–then time went on and marketing channels keep exploding. Now our marketing channels are so vast. People are distracted continually–every 60 seconds. We have to figure out how to get their attention in our Amazon “1-click” culture.

    The retail market is being disrupted. Netflix & Amazon is investing billions in advertising. Marketers should stop trying to do everything all at once, instead, pick a single channel and OWN IT. And please don’t put the same content on Twitter and Facebook, otherwise, what’s the point in consumers following both pages?

    Be real. Show live events. Show people how it happens. Show them the process. Facebook organic reach is near zero for business pages. If you want to reach real people, you need to pay for it. There are some exceptions to this including Facebook live, but don’t expect that to be the case for much longer.

    Don’t bang people over the head with ads. Instead, tell stories by using content marketing. For example, if you are a clothing store, write an article about how to tie a tie (or other clothing topic) and be a resource when people are searching on Google. Be a good source for information. Be the answer to a question. And they will remember your business.

    Thank you to our November event sponsors: 



  • How to Have Hard Conversations

    The ability to put tough issues on the table and deal with them directly is one factor that differentiates good companies from great companies, according to author Jim Collins. Virgin CEO Richard Branson says the ability to say what you mean and mean what you say is essential to success in business. Yet somehow, many of us struggle with direct, honest, difficult conversations. It’s often called Midwest nice, and it’s not a compliment.

    Facing tough issues head-on is more than a communication issue, it’s a hearts and minds issue. So to help us better understand the problem and work through solutions, professional counselor, professor, and author Larry Pfaff led us through a discussion of “How to have Hard Conversations” at our 2nd-Friday event in Oct.

    Since 1980, Larry has worked extensively in the area of career development, employee development and selection. To speak out, Larry told us we first must look inside ourselves. He challenged us to ask, “What’s holding me back?” And address that fear first. Once we understand the fear — and it’s associated risk — we can be more thoughtful and deliberate when we choose our words.

    The situations may differ. We may find ourselves leading up and guiding managers and boards to face problems. Or we may be managing an employee — someone who reports to us — to change behavior. We may even be sharing unpopular news with colleagues. But if the issue is important, we owe it to ourselves to face it head-on. And our careers and reputations will be better when we do.

    Check out Larry’s presentation in the PDF of his slides.

  • WOTV in Kalamazoo with Kevin Ferrara, Operations Manager

    At this Intercom event, Kevin Ferrara, Operations Manager for WOTV discussed why they have opened a working downtown news studio in Kalamazoo. Kevin explained that the media market has changed, and WOTV wants to “break the mold”.

    He discussed “call letter confusion”, meaning over time the different stations with names that we are familiar with like WKZO, WOODTV, WZZM, WXMI evolved due to competition, changing audiences & viewing areas, consolidation, regionalism and nationalism.

    WOTV is now owned by Nexstar, who also owns WOOD and WXSP. The changing media landscape presented opportunities for WOTV, and they were urged to have a “storefront” in Kalamazoo.

    Why would WOTV have a Grand Rapids AND Kalamazoo storefront? There are a few reasons:

    1. To leverage market leadership. Everyone turns to them for severe weather and breaking news.
    2. Be localized. Instead of sending Grand Rapids staff to cover Kalamazoo, WOTV wanted local investment. They want their employees to live here and care about the Kalamazoo community.
    3. Expand community service by partnering with Kalamazoo Public Schools and community events like Art Hop.
    4. Reach both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo audiences.

    kalamazoo-downtown-studio1WOTV’s Ryan Sterling said, “This is a start, not a stunt”. Their main focus is news, investigation, and severe weather. This is what people rely on them for and what they are known for. The prediction is that southwest Michigan can no longer support 4 stations in this market. WOTV hopes that with their new changes, they will the one that survives.

    Thanks, Kevin!

  • 2017-18 Season Kickoff at Boatyard Brewing

    InterCom members, friends and guests gathered in the back room at Boatyard Brewing Company to cheers the upcoming InterCom season of programming. It turned out to be a beautiful day. A drawing produced some happy winners of movie passes and Frederik Meijer Gardens tickets. Thank you to all who attended this event.


  • Final NP Survey Results Presentation

    The Results from Our Nonprofit Communications Survey

    April marked our last regular 2nd Friday lunchtime event for the 2016-2017 season. And it was a packed event! We discussed results from the InterCom and ONEplace nonprofit communications survey.

    We are currently working with ONEPlace leadership to coordinate qualitative focus groups that should help us all better understand the “why” behind the data.  We will, of course, share the results of those findings too, once we have that report.

    Look for programming in the coming year — from both organizations— to speak to some of the needs expressed by this vital social sector for our region.

    We’re excited to share the presentation from the event that can be viewed below or through this link

    Final NP Survey Results Presentation


  • Linda Depta at KVCC

    Seeds of Change: Bronson’s Healthy Living Campus

    Linda Depta, Director of College Relations at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, treated InterCom to a sneak peek of their Bronson Healthy Living Campus on March 10: both figuratively and literally.  The lunch program, held at their new Culinary/Allied Health Building, allowed attendees an insider’s view of the creation and corresponding marketing campaign of this unique venture.

    Her presentation focused on these key areas:KVCC Materials

    • KVCC rebranding campaign. Linda discussed how a skeleton crew and an outside agency rebuilt their brand six years ago, from the ground up. Next challenge: We want to build a new campus.
    • The issue: Kalamazoo, and more importantly, the world is in a health crisis. Lack of healthy foods and poor dietary choices lead to multiple health issues and a decreased quality of life. In Kalamazoo County, 63% of adults are overweight or obese.
    • The response: KVCC partnered with Bronson Healthcare and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 2013. Together, they created the Bronson Healthy Campus to boost urban revitalization, community health and workforce development through sustainable food education, training, production, distribution and preparation. In other words, they took to heart the notion that food is medicine. Their purpose video can be viewed here.
    • The campaign. Linda walked us through the capital campaign and the marketing support needed to convince our community that this issue needed to be addressed – keeping in mind that nobody had ever created a mission like this before.  The BHLC is the first in the nation to offer these kind of solutions, with these resources and programs, in this type of academic setting.
    • InterCom CrowdThe results. The three-building campus is up and running with most of its needed money raised and in place. Classed are full, the indoor farm is growing and the student-run restaurant is open for business. The marketing efforts paid off, on time and on budget.

    Dessert: After the presentation in the culinary theatre, Linda took interested attendees on a guided tour of the Culinary/Allied Health Building. In-house brewing, state-of-the-art industrial kitchens, a medical simulation room, and a working stationary ambulance were all part of the journey. We left with heads full of knowledge and hearts full of passion, and with bellies rumbling in anticipation of partaking in delicious healthy-living cuisine when the campus café’s and restaurants open again in the fall.

    By Curtis Cunningham, Vice President, Lawrence Productions. Decades-long InterCom member.

  • George Franklin Presentation

    Lessons from a Veteran Lobbyist

    George Franklin, attorney and former vice president of worldwide government relations for Kellogg Company, shared war stories about his 30 years as a corporate lobbyist at our February 2nd Friday Speakers Series event. As George pointed out, most communication people don’t know much about government relations and many of us have a negative opinion of their work as lobbyists.  By the end, George made sure we all understood that lobbyists are not the enemy but instead play an important role in our democracy.

    George is on a mission to educate communications professionals and business people alike about the critical ways lobbying and government relations can help enterprises of all sizes be successful.

    His presentation focused on four key points:

    1. Government relations is foundational for business success, because, like it or not, every enterprise must deal with local, state and federal governments for permits, licenses, taxes, regulations, etc. Understanding how to work with or influence smart legislation can make or break an organization.
    1. Lobbying and lobbyists are misunderstood. “Special interests” is a meaningless term; every organization is a special interest, and lobbyists work to make sure their clients’ views are represented. Positive governmental relations can improve the quality of business outcomes and strengthen communities.
    1. Our democracy can’t function smoothly without lobbyists. They provide busy legislative representatives with the data, research, impact studies, etc. needed for smart legislation. They’re the backbone of our political process.
    1. To be successful as a government affairs professional, there is only one rule, and that is to build relationships of trust. Those relationships die quickly if lobbyists fail to provide accurate and truthful information to local, state or federal governmental representatives. The image of the unethical, crony, untrustworthy lobbyist isn’t accurate. If you operate that way, you won’t make it.

    We were lucky to get George to share his practical advice, given his schedule.  He’s very busy these days assisting producers who’d like to turn his book, Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World, into a mini-series. The concept is similar to “Mad Men,” but it centers on the lives of lobbyists in 1970s-era Washington D.C. rather than Manhattan advertising honchos.

    Maybe in the near future we’ll be further strengthening our communication proficiency by watching a hit show based on the expertise of one of the country’s best governmental affairs professionals, who just happens to hail from our own corner of Michigan.

    Thanks, George!

    Written by Kristi Droppers, Managing Director, Collective Know-How, LLC.


  • Presenting You Workshop

    Presenting You Workshop

    Our last month’s 2nd Friday event kicked off the second half of our 2016-2017 Speakers’ Series with a workshop: Presenting You. Based on the best characteristics of the most in-demand TED talks, participants explored how both interpersonal and public speaking has changed as a result of this global phenomenon. Four characteristics were identified and explored: passion, presence and authenticity, developing a succinct big-picture message and adding storytelling. Due to a personal emergency, our scheduled speaker was unable join us, so we turned to four short videos for advice. Then, we practiced. You find the slides used in the presentation here. You’ll also find bios on the speakers and two some handouts specific to TED, just for good measure.