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Marketing Communications Today Blog

About Marketing Communications Today

Marketing Communications Today is a resource for marketing communications professionals filled with industry research, marketing trends, and career information about integrated marketing and data-driven communications. Fueled by the academic innovation coming out of WVU’s own Integrated Marketing Communications and Data Marketing Communications programs, these articles will provide both aspiring learners and seasoned marketing professionals with better insights into what’s now and what’s next in marketing and communications.


2020 Trends for Marketing Communicators

2020 Watchlist for Marketing Communicators

As a discipline, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) attempts to unify all pieces of marketing communications, including advertising, public relations, direct marketing, social media, and sales promotion. In a fast-paced industry, with highly saturated marketing channels, forward-thinking and staying on trend is the only way to make an impact on your target audience.

The “2020 Watchlist for Marketing Communicators,” presented by West Virginia University’s IMC and DMC Graduate Programs, provides insight into the future of marketing based on the rising trends and tactics today, backed by insights from our extensive network of alumni, industry leaders and professional faculty, as well as case studies and tactic examples to help inspire your next-level marketing communications plan.

Influencer Marketing is the practice of leveraging an individual’s following to promote, endorse or support brands.

Read Full Article: 2020 Trends for Marketing Communicators

EZ Insider: A Very Branded Holiday Tradition

EZ Insider: A Very Branded Holiday Tradition

For many families, Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season comes with the annual return of many holiday traditions. For many families, this may include traveling to visit extended family, having family holiday brunch at the same restaurant or hosting an annual gift exchange. One tradition unique to my family growing up was attending the Thanksgiving Parade in Philadelphia.

Each year we would overtake a curb along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, or as I called it as a kid, the street with all the flags. Floats, clowns and bands marched down the road as I shared hot chocolate, baked goods and blankets with all of my cousins. Growing up, I didn't really notice all of the branding and sponsorship that took place; I was more concerned with making sure the volunteers dressed as elves got my letter to give to Santa on his float that was always the caboose of the parade. Now, as a hyper-sensitive marketing communications student, the logos and branding interest me more than if the massive character balloons are going to make it all the way to the art museum steps.

Here is a breakdown of all the pieces of marketing communications that make up one of the most festive events of the season:

Read Full Article: EZ Insider: A Very Branded Holiday Tradition

Showing Gratitude Toward Your Clients

Bonnie Harris speaks about showing gratitude toward your clients

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect on how we show gratitude toward clients and consumers. Bonnie Harris, founder of Wax Marketing, and host Michael Lynch will explore the ways you can authentically express thanks.

Many companies confuse gratitude with a rewards program, but they are quite different. In this session, we’ll discuss how gratitude benefits an overall brand, its contribution to the customer experience, and companies that are outstanding at demonstrating an attitude of thankfulness.

As the founder of Wax Marketing — an integrated marketing agency based in St. Paul, Minnesota — Bonnie Harris and her team design and implement IMC strategies for clients across the United States, focusing primarily on mid-sized companies in the healthcare, technology, and manufacturing industries. Harris is also an instructor for the IMC program. 

Read Full Article: Showing Gratitude Toward Your Clients

EZ Insider: The Benefits of Mentorship

EZ Insider

For those who don’t know the story of my undergraduate college search — it was pretty non-existent. Long story short: I was a nursing major, I applied to maybe four schools, WVU gave me the largest scholarship, I enrolled, changed my major in July before school because I’m deathly afraid of needles. I stepped on campus as a strategic communications major with an emphasis in public relations.

I had no idea what strategic communications or public relations were when I started my courses. My orientation course opened my eyes to the world of communications and marketing, and I realized I had a lot of options upon graduating, an overwhelming number of options. It’s great to do research, read job descriptions and take a variety of courses, but you still won’t be able to get a grasp of the full capacity of the industry this way. It was only when I was able to connect with people who were leading the industry and my high-achieving peers that I began to develop an idea of what my path could be in the vast world of marketing communications.

These connections, whether they be industry professionals, WVU alumni, internship supervisors, professors, advisors or senior peers, are my mentors. The relationships I have been able to build and the advice given to me have helped shape the young professional I am today.

Read Full Article: EZ Insider: The Benefits of Mentorship

EZ Insider: An IMC Thanksgiving Feast

EZ Insider

Hosting a Thanksgiving meal is an intricate process. With multiple dishes and specific requests from family members, it takes a lot of planning to create the meal of the season. While you work hard in the kitchen, you may notice that your dinner preparation looks a lot like some of your IMC/DMC homework…

Everyone has a specific job when it comes to setting the table, whether it be designing the centerpiece or simply placing silverware. To have the best set up for your Thanksgiving dinner, a plan of who is in charge of what needs to be in place. The table setting is like the initial project planning stages of an IMC campaign. Clients provide specific requests, then account managers delegate tasks and deadlines. Careful planning ensures everything can be delivered to the client, or hungry relatives, on time and while it’s still hot.

Whether it’s surfing Pinterest, or paging through old family cookbooks, planning your Thanksgiving meal takes a lot of research, like the background for your campaign. Research should be hyper-focused, based on the desires of your consumers, or your family members who are picky eaters. Utilizing credible resources, you are bound to find information and recipes that will guide the creation of a standout menu.

Read Full Article: EZ Insider: An IMC Thanksgiving Feast

2019 AMA Symposium for Higher Education: Key Takeaways

 AMA Symposium for Higher Education

By Dr. Adrienne King
The University of Toledo

Celebrating 30 years, the 2019 American Marketing Association’s (AMA) Symposium of Higher Education included record attendance with nearly 1,500 higher education marketers in attendance. The annual conference covered a variety of topics including reputation campaigns, changing student demographics, free speech on campus, and not surprisingly, this year’s varsity blues scandal.

Undoubtedly one of the most relevant presentations, “Selling Higher Education,” with Brandon Busteed president of Kaplan University Partners, outlined the dramatic difference between the cost of attendance and the median earnings of bachelor’s degree holders. Since 1990, average tuition and fee costs in the United States have increased nearly 400% –– more than double that of healthcare costs. Median earnings for college graduates, however, have remained relatively flat.

Read Full Article: 2019 AMA Symposium for Higher Education: Key Takeaways

B2B Demand Generation: What Really Works in Digital Advertising?

B2B Demand

Digital advertising has greatly evolved since the turn of the century. Search engine advertising is still around, but campaigns are more complicated than ever before. Social media, as we know it, didn't begin for a couple more years. Flash forward to 2019. Not only have Google and LinkedIn become behemoths in the B2B digital marketing space, but we also have more targeting options than ever before. In this podcast, you will learn how B2B advertisers can leverage the latest digital advertising tools to build and scale profitable lead generation programs.

Justin Seibert, from Direct Online Marketing, joined us on our podcast to talk about how B2B advertisers can leverage the latest digital advertising tools to build and scale profitable lead generation programs.

Nathan Pieratt: What can marketers do in highly competitive industries to get the most bang for their buck or leverage these tools in the best way?

Read Full Article: B2B Demand Generation: What Really Works in Digital Advertising?

Brands "Go Dark" for Black Friday


In 2015, the outdoor recreation brand REI boldly chose to close its doors to encourage employees and customers to #OptOutside. The company paid employees to take a hike on the most stressful shopping day of the year based on the most important consumer insight for their target audience: these people would rather be outside than standing in line for hours.

REI has turned this "moment" into a "movement" by continuing the #OptOutside tradition each year. The brand continues to engage with user-generated content on social media and highlight consumers who did #OptOutside on Black Friday. They have created several promotional videos and even partnered with other large companies like Google to create a platform to help consumers who are looking to participate in the campaign find hiking trails near them.

Other brands who will be, or have taken the leap and focus on the consumer by "going dark" for Black Friday and Cyber Monday include:

Read Full Article: Brands "Go Dark" for Black Friday

[INTERVIEW] Susan Jones on the Teachings of Trout and Ries Relevance in 2019

Susan Jones

As an award-winning professor, author and consultant, Susan Jones has had a well-rounded career in direct and digital marketing. Jones is a professor of advertising, social media, content marketing and B2B classes at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. Her practice focuses on corporate training and seminars, as well as marketing planning, product development and copywriting. Susan is also an IMC instructor here at West Virginia University, teaching Direct and Digital Marketing online in the Reed College of Media.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Jones on our weekly Marketing Communications Today podcast — here are her thoughts on Trout and Ries' ideologies, particularly tying in contemporary brands.

Matthew Cummings: Can you tell us more about the philosophy of Trout and Ries as it was first presented a few decades ago now?

Read Full Article: [INTERVIEW] Susan Jones on the Teachings of Trout and Ries Relevance in 2019

Pinterest Marketing: Is it Worth it During Recipe Pinning Season?


As the holiday season draws near, Pinterest may be the first thought of many moms and millennials looking to "pin" recipes for family parties and catch up on the latest fall fashions. But what about your brand? How are you using Pinterest? Are you using it at all?

Does Your Audience Use Pinterest?

According to Sprout Social, Pinterest has 291 million monthly active users both inside and outside of the U.S. In 2018, 80% of new registrants for the site were individuals located outside of the United States, meaning marketing on Pinterest has a global reach for your brand.

Read Full Article: Pinterest Marketing: Is it Worth it During Recipe Pinning Season?