Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Travel = Museums

IMG_4549When I was 16 I wanted to see the Mona Lisa, in person. Travel means art museums. At home, like many people, I forget what’s in my backyard. Thankfully the Minneapolis Institute of Arts just send me a few emails reminding me of their new exhibit, Italian Style:  Fashion Since 1945.

Fantastic marketers, the MIA employs direct marketing via email and social media, such as their Facebook page and videos, to remind art lovers to visit. Getting there is only part of the marketing journey; consider the brochures, catalogs, and signage one encounters at a museum, as well. In fact, I have rather large box of postcards from museums I’ve visited all over the world.

Art in Your Backyard

Yesterday, I took my marketing communications students to the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery yesterday to understand the role of artists statements as supplemental media. In preparation, they read two different perspectives on this type of writing:

And then wrote their own about Adé Bethune: The Power of One Person and the Great Mother of Islam.

The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery is free and open every day. Plan your visit, soon.

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Okay that’s what I should be doing — 3 down and 1 that’s almost perfect. But I needed a screen break, so I’m sharing my acting debut with you.

I hope you watch it. As videos go it’s a little long at 2 minutes 15 seconds….but it showcases the humor and passion of some of my amazing colleagues:

“Poundsign Get Back to Work” —  Provost, Dr. Colleen Hegranes

“Hashtag Do you have time to chat?” —  COO, Dr. Brian Bruess

“Hashtag Great Minnesota Get Together” —  Vice President, Bea Abdallah

“Hashtag Wiggity Wiggity Wildcats ” —  Athletic Director, Eric Stacey

“Hashtag Sassy Lassie Trivia” — Associate Director of Student Activities, Brigette Marty

Kudos to the St. Kate’s MarComm team for the idea and making back to school hashtag fun.

My acting debut:  376 views


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The question should really be, what skills do I need?

For me, it’s how should I prepare my students? They need to understand social strategy, to measure sentiment, create a visual experience, and analyze like an economist — and write really well, too.

2013 Marketing Jobs Outlook from Monster.com, last year, sums this up well:

Demand Continues to Rise for High Tech, Multichannel Media Skills

The intersection of technology and marketing will be a rich breeding ground for jobs in the marketing field in 2013, industry insiders say. “We expect to make 150 to 200 hires just in Chicago over the next few years,” says Butler. In addition to specialists in core marketing disciplines, Roundarch will be looking for media strategists, user experience designers, Web developers, Java developers and content managers.

Professionals who haven’t fully immersed themselves in the new media of marketing will likely feel less in demand in 2013. “Multichannel user experience people are the hardest to find, then mobile, while the market for creative and visual design folks is a little bit softer,” Butler says. Roundarch’s recent job postings have included SEO technical strategist, user experience director and project manager.

In fact, marketing professionals may have no choice but to get involved in digital if they want to have a future in their field. “The lines between digital and traditional media planning are blurring,” says Christine Stack, director of senior talent acquisition at MEC, a media buying agency with about 4,400 workers worldwide. “We now need strategic media planners who work across all media.” MEC has recently posted openings for senior associate of digital media, senior director of media planning and manager of marketing-mix modeling.

Marketing analytics will also be a very active area for hiring in 2013. “More employers are looking for marketers who have the potential to work with ‘big data,'” says Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University in New York City and author of The Secret to Getting a Job After College: Marketing Tactics to Turn Degrees into Dollars. “They’re looking for people who can make sense of user-generated content, online ratings and so on.”

But in addition to technical savvy, marketing firms and in-house departments say they are hard-pressed to find folks skilled in the very essence of the field: communication. “Economics majors are sought out by marketers if they can communicate,” Chiagouris says. “Marketing people are in demand if they can do analytical work.”

I always knew my economics degree would serve me well.

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This semester I’m teaching three courses, of which two are writing intensive. Sometimes this feels like I’m teaching six of them. These are business courses. My students must know how to communicate effectively among their colleagues and of course, in social media with potential customers. The following is an excerpt from our private class blog. I figure they are not the only ones who could benefit from some writing insights.

the Point

It’s snowing today. It’s the middle of April. The weather thrills no one.

I’m reading blogs and integrated marketing communication plans today and I noticed that my students’ sentences are usually a lot longer than mine (see my three sentences above). In business writing, we aim to inform our readers concisely. Many of us tend to write what we think, which is a great way to begin. However, everyone needs to go back and rewrite so our readers understand immediately what we mean.

According to INC. magazine we should obey Rule No. 1: Get to the Point. I agree–the lesson is how. Below I’ve curated a few sections from Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) to help you, get to the point.

Online writing tips from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Conciseness:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/683/04/

Directness  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/683/01/

Academic writing in North America has often been described as “direct.” This can mean two things: 1) dealing immediately with the topic at hand without extra information; 2) using clear and precise language to describe even the most uncomfortable and taboo subjects. Direct writing will be seen by professors and other readers as lean and efficient. Follow these strategies to make your writing more direct:

  • Create an outline of your text before writing, and compare your early drafts with the outline. If a word or a sentence does not contribute to any of the points in your outline, remove it.
  • When you review your early drafts, look for ways to make your sentences shorter, but without removing any important meanings from them. If you can do this, then make them shorter.
  • Look for euphemisms (mild or vague expressions for something that is uncomfortable to talk about). If you find any euphemisms, change them to clearer language.

Writing for a North American Business Audience   http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/651/1/

Every country has its own set of rules and expectations about the ways to communicate in a business setting. In some countries, they may place less emphasis on written materials and more emphasis on verbal communication. However, in the United States, memos, letters, [social media, white papers,] and emails are important and play a role in creating a person’s business reputation.

Getting to the Point

The question “so what is your point” is very common with American audiences. In general, North Americans prefer to get a preview of the main ideas so that they know what to expect. Time is an important factor for U.S. business people because they do not have much of it. So it is important to state your purpose or “the bottom line” for writing at the beginning of your document.

Here is an example of a hidden main point where the writer is requesting employment verification*:

Dear Personnel Director:

On March 27, I received a phone call from Mrs. Karen Krane from New York, who was once a data entry clerk in your Ohio office. She was under the direct supervision of…..

As you can see, the above statement goes on several sentences and the writer still has not revealed his or her purpose. A busy personnel director might skip over this request and make it a last priority.

This is an example with the main point clearly stated:

Dear Personnel Director:

Would you verify the employment of Mrs. Karen Krane? She was a data entry clerk in your Ohio office (fill in the details) Sincerely,

Often times writers will place their main point at the bottom of their document because they are either delivering bad news or they are afraid their ideas will be rejected. But business writing experts warn against this style of writing. Bad news should always be delivered up front. Also remember that while you do not want to be too shy about delivering bad news, you also do not want to be too aggressive when you submit an idea or suggestion. For example, “We must hire a new secretary now” has an aggressive tone that your reader may not appreciate. Instead write something like, “I know that you do not think we should hire a new secretary now, but I really think we need to. Please let me explain my reasons.”

Keeping It Simple

You may have heard your English instructors tell you not to worry yourself over complicated sentences and impressive words. Just use simple language to get your point across and you will have more success. Well, the same proves true for business writing. You might feel compelled to use bigger words or more complex sentences to build credibility with your audience.

The two primary reasons to avoid such tactics are:a) you might be perceived as a con artist or, b) your message might become confusing.

An example of using “impressive words”:

Subsequent to the passage of the subject legislation, it is incumbent upon you to advise your organization to comply with it.*

An example using simple words:

After the law passes, you must tell your people to comply with it.*

The second passage is much easier to understand and it gets straight to the point. There is little room for misunderstanding with that statement.

Using Passive and Active Voice*

Passive voice has three basic characteristics:

A form of the verb to be (is, am are, was, were, be, been, or being).

A past participle (a verb ending in -ed or -en except irregular verbs like kept).

A prepositional phrase beginning with by (though this is not always the case)

Here is a sentence using all three characteristics:

The meeting is being held by the human resources department.

Another sample of a passive sentence:

It was decided that the experiment would be conducted at noon.

Passive statements convey a clear message and in some cases (those without the prepositional phrase) are grammatically correct. But the problem is that writers often over use passive phrases.

A writer uses passive voice to purposefully leave out the actor or subject of the sentence in an effort to sound more diplomatic. Look at this example.

Active: “I decided that everyone must retake the exam.”
Passive: “It has been decided that everyone must retake the exam.”

The passive example takes the actor out of the sentence so that the audience cannot directly blame someone.

Author Edward Bailey offers a few suggestions on when to use passive voice. He says there are three instances to use it:

When you don’t know the actor

When the actor is unimportant to the point you’re making (“The Congressman was re-elected.”)

When the emphasis is clearly not on the actor but on the acted upon (“What happened to the little girl? The little girl was rescued.”)

If your purpose does not fall into one of three categories above then use active direct voice. But be careful not to be too direct. You would not want to tell an employer that he or she should hire you because “I am the best.”

For more about active and passive voice, click here for a whole OWL handout devoted to it.

Using Nondiscriminatory Language

Nondiscriminatory language is language that treats all people equally. It does not use any discriminatory words, remarks, or ideas. It is very important that the business writer communicate in a way that expresses equality and respect for all individuals. It is the kind of language that can come between you and your reader. Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and disability.

Use neutral job titles.

Not Good: Chairman
Better: Chairperson

Avoid demeaning or stereotypical terms.

Not Good: After the girls in the office receive an order, our office fills it within 24 hours
Better: When orders are received from the office, they are filled within 24 hours

Avoid words and phrases that unnecessarily imply gender.

Not Good: Executives and their wives
Better: Executives and their spouses

Omit information about group membership

Not Good: Connie Green performed the job well for her age.
Better: Connie Green performed the job well

If you do not know a reader’s gender, use a nonsexist salutation.

Not Good: Dear Gentlemen:
Better: Associate Director Chris Hammond:

Do not use masculine pronouns

Not Good: Each student must provide his own lab jacket
Better: Students must provide their own lab jackets. Or Each student must provide his or her own lab jacket.

For more about nondiscriminatory language, please see our OWL handout on nonsexist or appropriate language use.

Notes and References

* Bailey, Edward P. The Plain English Approach to Business Writing. Oxford University Press: NY, 1990.
** Mark Dollar. “Basic Tips for ESL Students: Writing for an American Audience.” Purdue OWL, 1999.

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Developing creative strategies is my students’ most difficult assignment in Integrated Marketing Communications. Learning that tactics are not strategies is much harder than finding an audacious or at least original idea.

We begin with goals and translate them into ideas and strategies. Sometimes we simply play with taglines and work backwards to see what they have in common. Invariably, we examine what other people are doing to map the process and see the difference between strategies and tactics.

Here’s a great example.

Marketing Goal:  Get more customers

Communications Goals:  Differentiate this business from its competitors

Creative Strategies:

  • Showcase the CEO’s humor
  • Arouse the curiosity of potential customers
  • Begin your own story
  • Make this business distinct from its competitors


  • Quick and funny video series with the CEO

  • Visual vs. text heavy homepage designed for the target market


  • Transform the idea of purchase into “writing your own story”

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6789077586_6b476299e2_q Shout it out! Show your pride! Be a Katie!

Thursday is Shout Out St. Kate’s Day. My students wrote, produced, starred in and generally lived and breathed the topic since early February. They’ve had one month to learn the public relations value of this event and contribute their own creativity to the effort.

What did they learn?

  • Using events to create publicity (A Tweet Up at the Mall of America)
  • Encouraging and involving stakeholders (How would students envision and publicize the video contest?)
  • Communicating goals and important dates (When were the videos due?)
  • Being flexible to the external environment (Vine is only 5 weeks, old, after all!)

My Students’ Work


YouTube: (more to come)

Shout Out to the Katie Nation

A Day in the Life of  a “Katie”

Shout Out Saint Kate’s Day 2013

The Commuter Experience

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Can you create “content?”

If you want to work in business, then you need to know social media. Search social media education and you’ll find the need is great, but the opportunities few.  The Creative Group—the creative arm of Robert Half staffing reports that  demand is increasing for people with a range of interactive skills and content creation.

 The eternal quest for content • Consumers’ appetite for targeted, up-to-date and easy-to-digest news, information and entertainment seems to grow every day. Organizations need professionals who can create, curate, manage, distribute and optimize content using a variety of channels, including social media. Demand is high for copywriters, proofreaders and content managers with web expertise.

The Creative Group 2013 Salary Guide

Social media reaches over 82% of the world population

Forbes reported in April  2012 that even though social media reaches over 82% of the world population, one third of the top business schools do not offer any social business courses and of those that do, most only do at a cursory level. We’re changing that at St. Kate’s.

IMC and D graphic

Integrated Marketing Communications & Design Minor (22 credits)

MKTG 2300 Principles of Marketing

MKTG 2350 Integrated Marketing Communications

MKTG 3300 Interactive Marketing:  Social Networks, Multimedia, and SEO

SALE 2300 Introduction to Selling  (2 credits)

Plus Two Design Classes from the following lists:

INDI 1120 Design and Society

ART 2250:  Art and Technology

ART 3XXX Photography and Digital Storytelling

ART 3150 Publication and Computer Design

ART 3180 Illustration and Computer Design

ART 3200 Graphic and Web Design

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