Breaking the Chains of Perfection and Pushing Authenticity

 By: Ray Lapoint

What is Authenticity?

Trapped behind cell phone screens and computer monitors, users of the digital world have become far removed from reality. So far removed that the future of marketing may very well depend on the focus and concentration of a single attribute. Authenticity.

Authenticity means being real or genuine. When thinking about personal authenticity, individuals believe this creates an opportunity for them to portray themselves in a unique, realistic way and withhold from the force of influence of others. Authenticity, as it relates to brand identity generates a similar perception in the eyes of their audiences. People want to feel as if their favorite brands are speaking directly to their personal values and beliefs. In other words, they want to have a connection with brands.

Advertisers and marketers believe that practicing authenticity and even transparency through marketing and advertising help customers connect with a brand, stimulate brand trust and help overcome consumer skepticism toward ads according to the American Marketing Association. This includes everything from your website, your social media interactions, partnerships, and campaign agendas. 

The average customer is smarter than we think.

When thinking about connecting with your consumers, your goal is to have them perceive your brand as genuine or real. Given the infinite spider web of the digital landscape and incredibly connected social world, audiences are no longer reacting to generic marketing and unrealistic expectations. People don’t react to “glossified” advertising anymore. Examples of this can be seen in the fast-food industry where the delivered product does not resemble the advertised result. We have all been there. Those fast food joints neglect the presentation factor when crafting delicious meals. The food insufficiently captures the experience leading to an unhappy customer. 

Consumers have ditched the ideals of perfection and have started craving something better. They crave authenticity. Buying into a brand is more than buying a product or service. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between consumers and a brand. A brand produces a genuine promise through a product or service, and consumers give their continued business in return.

It almost seems as if some marketing firms today have an agenda to maximize profit regardless of unrealistic product promises. For example, we have all experienced buying a product that has not met our expectations. Popular trends give evidence to this phenomenon like “Expectation vs. Reality” memes. 

Lack of genuine endorsements on social media

Brand ambassadors and paid influencers are great for promoting a brand’s image and products. Not only is this an opportunity for media influencers to share personal experiences and curate new content, but it also illustrates a brand’s identity. Although these paid sponsorships generate mutually beneficial relationships for an influencer and a brand, in some cases, these relationships are solely based on follow-count and not sharing similar values or beliefs. 

Say a strictly vegan-based brand wants to hire a rising influencer to promote their new line of vegan, sustainable and dairy-free milk to their 1 million followers. The brand might think it is a grand idea to work with them in promoting their product for their high follower count. Meanwhile, the influencer posts content of them grilling and eating animal meat and wearing real animal fur on their social media. In this example, it is evident this influencer does not share the same values as the brand which could lead to potential upset with customers of the brand as well.

Failed social media endorsement 

When social media influencers or brand ambassadors endorse a product, their content needs to be genuine or real otherwise it may have a negative impact. Bootea, a fitness and detox brand had to make their mistake first in order to learn from it. The brand had partnered with Scott Disick who is known for his appearance in the reality TV series Keeping up with the Kardashians. Disick missed the mark when he posted on Instagram with the direct instructions given to him by the brand. This shows the audience that he did not generate a personal caption putting the brand in an embarrassing position.  

Some viewers of these marketing advertisements may see these as misleading or ungenuine endorsements for products. Can these products keep their promises when they pay influencers to read a generic script and sample a product? How do we know if their support is genuine? It is an uphill battle for public relations professionals to find influencers that align fairly well with the brand’s voice, yet they are crucial in securing an authentic relationship with your target audience.

Where does that leave the future of marketing?

Connecting with consumers has never been more of a challenge for brands. How are future marketers supposed to combat this likely dark path of falsehood? Leveraging authenticity to attract existing and new customers is critical. An easy way to practice this is to diversify your content and implement strategies different from that currently in the marketing world. Numb is the feeling you get when something is no longer affecting you. Similar to recycled marketing approaches, you aren’t getting the same response as you once did thus, calling for a fresh angle.

The customer-centric model requires “a deep understanding of the social, financial, emotional and intellectual needs of the buyer at certain stages, along with what they enjoy outside of the buyer’s journey” says Forbes Councils Member, Jessica Scanlon.

Understanding what your customers want and needs are undoubtedly important to know, however understanding their beliefs and values give way to more opportunities for growth and acceptance. Utilizing what we know about our audiences can help us as marketers gauge the brand tone and voice we want to portray. Not only that, we need to understand the simple human truths and connect them to the values behind our brand.

Sources:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022242918815880#bibr40-0022242918815880

By Dominique DeVivo

Inside look at Failed Campaigns

Behind-the-scenes factors play a vital part in successful campaigns. Many fashion brands are under a microscope with their large customer fanbases. One wrong move may result in a backlash from countless consumers. Not only do these failed strategies reflect badly on the company, but often result in a decline in customer sales and a lost connection between the brand and its target consumer. Developing a relationship between the brand and the consumer can be beneficial to the company’s success. Forming a bond between the two allows trust to build between the brand and the consumer. Breaking this bond will steer away customers and damage the trust that was built. Ideally, consumers want to feel a personal connection to the brand that promotes and reflects their values. Focusing on where these three notorious fashion brands H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Dolce & Gabanna went wrong in their campaign process.

H&M’s Greenwashing

Fashion trends are fleeting, and many stores have responded by using textiles that are cheap but not recyclable. Textile waste is a huge problem for the environment.

“Next to oil, fashion in its broadest sense, fast fashion, to leather to denim, is the next biggest industrial polluter of the world’s waterways.”

Filmmaker Mark Angelo in his documentary, RiverBlue.

H&M saw backlash from their scorecard system that was created to show how environmentally friendly their products were. H&M’s positioning as an environmentally conscious company proved to be flawed when false information arose from the scorecards. The company claimed products to be better for the environment than they actually were. False claims were also unveiled when the company claimed these products were sustainable, in reality, they were not.

H&M is now seen as a fashion company that doesn’t tell the truth about its involvement in environmental issues. In-store recycling bins have been put in place with the goal to revitalize garments into new clothing. Only 35% of the clothing that was collected went to be recycled.

Victoria’s Secret Failed Body Inclusivity

Victoria’s Secret, a world-renowned brand most known for intimates is also known for its models ranging in smaller sizes compared to the average woman. As of 2014 competitor brand, Aerie has prided itself on unretouched photography and specifically in its AerieReal campaign. This campaign from Aerie brought both success and consumer loyalty to the brand. The campaign focused on leaving all photos raw and unedited which positioned Aerie as a brand that wants its consumers to feel happy in their own skin. Aerie took this opportunity to showcase women of all different shapes and sizes which is something that Victoria’s Secret was failing to do all along.

 The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a major event in this industry has not only put an image of beauty into young minds but has continued to showcase models that decreased in size as the show continued to gain fame. This breach of trust damaged the bond between the consumer and the brand. Despite all of this Victoria’s Secret has attempted to rebrand its company and image by utilizing models of all size ranges. In 2015 they released a campaign that claimed to have lingerie for all body types. Once again, they failed their customers and missed the mark by showcasing models of similar sizes and no diversity among them. VS’s rebranding was a poor strategic idea due to the fact their image was not changing. After receiving backlash for years, they continued to follow the same strategy.

“Collectively, models shrank roughly two inches across their bustlines, one inch around their waistlines, and nearly half an inch off their hiplines. The models’ average dress size decreased from 5.2 to 3.7 over the same span of time. Despite these dramatic differences, their WHR and height stayed nearly identical.

Gina Digravio

Their idea of beauty has shaped millions of young women’s perceptions of what their ideal bodies should be. This beauty standard Victoria’s Secret stands behind was never targeted to women of all sizes. Victoria’s Secret has proved multiple times that it is positioned towards men’s standards of women and does not pertain to women of all sizes.

Victoria’s Secret allowed a competitor brand to lure customers away from them by appealing to all women, something that VS failed to accomplish.  

Dolce & Gabanna Sneakers

While many public relations campaigns succeed, that’s not always the case. As campaigns continue to evolve, several questions come to mind. Where do campaigns go wrong? What campaigns from large companies have failed in their strategy? The campaign process is always talked about, but where the campaigns go wrong is a different story. Defining these disconnects in the pr strategy increases consumer awareness of what not to do when developing a campaign.

Dolce & Gabanna, the luxury company known for its Mediterranean style, is also missing the mark. In 2017 a sneaker hit the market that caused a commotion in the marketplace. The sneaker retailed for $973 remarked, “I’m thin and gorgeous” in large font on the side of the shoe. The shoe was first released to the public at Milan Men’s Fashion Week. Not only did this shoe reveal a lack of body inclusivity it directly reflected back on the brand and its image.

“Though there may be an element of cheeky humor at play in the design of these sneakers, equating thinness and beauty with success and status is a message that hurts everyone.”

Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association

Dolce & Gabanna’s designer, Stefano Gabanna, responded to comments that seemed to only make the situation worse. Gabanna went to social media to repost articles that addressed the sneaker in a bad light. Gabanna’s Instagram caption responding to this issue said, “When idiocy distorts reality…next time we’ll write LOVE TO BE FAT AND FULL OF CHOLESTEROL…the most stupid post ever.” Not only did Dolce & Gabanna spark a sensitive topic with this shoe they also seemed to have no initiative in addressing the matter at hand.

The Necessary Change Today

These fashion companies have not only failed in their PR strategy but also their loyal customers. Maybe the solution is not with the strategy but within the company itself. Many companies forget the importance of adjusting to our evolving world. Opening your brand to changes also opens the door to more successful campaigns. We know that change is necessary and companies in the future need to react to these failed processes and learn from them.

Many steps can be put in place to prevent these pr strategies mentioned from happening again. Some strategies to follow when developing a campaign include understanding your target audience and their wants and needs, being sensitive to tough topics and issues, bringing in multiple ideas and diverse opinions when formulating a new campaign, and being open to change. Every PR campaign is different and discussing the bad may ultimately form the good.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/retailwire/2022/07/13/hm-case-shows-how-greenwashing-breaks-brand-promise/?sh=2a58fa5a1171

https://www.popdust.com/victorias-secret-failed-rebrand-2657667356.html#:~:text=The%20Rebrand%20To%20Fail%20All,legs%20and%20a%20flat%20stomach.

https://www.businessinsider.com/dolce-and-gabbana-responds-to-critics-of-his-thin-and-gorgeous-shoes-2017-4#:~:text=The%20INSIDER%20Summary%3A,’m%20thin%20%26%20gorgeous.%22

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/dolce-gabbana-thin-and-gorgeous-shoes

www.forbes.com/sites/rachellebergstein/2017/04/26/is-fashion-experiencing-its-own-pc-backlash/?sh=3c79ab494edb

By Kianna Rodriguez

Shaking Up the Consumer 

As a bartender, I understand that the job isn’t just about mixing a great cocktail. Customer relationships are at the heart of what I do. Bartenders possess not only drink-making skills but the ability to connect with customers through conversation and advice. Bartenders possess a special skill, almost a superpower called listening. Bartenders listen to feedback on drinks and learn what makes customers tick. We listen to customers’ thoughts and motivations. By engaging in conversations with them about any topic that they want to cover. People come in and talk about various topics from their relationships, friendships, and work life to home life, politics and more. As a budding advertising and public relations professional, I can see how this deep dive into the feelings and thoughts of the customer should inform my work.

Creating a Meaningful Relationship 

We listen to the customer and learn their favorite things, their careers, their background, and their hopes and dreams for the future. But we also learn about what they fear in the world, from people to places to things. Taking in all this information is beneficial to my college career as an advertising and public relations student. Why? Because I can see a deep understanding of the consumer as the only way to help a brand connect on a meaningful level. I can help brands find new ways to connect with customers.

All brands need to find a way to connect to their customers on a different level. For example, Dove released a campaign called “Reverse Selfie”  which showed the effects of social media standards on young women. Young girls heavily edit their pictures and constantly stare at themselves in the mirror. Now when they are looking in the mirror they are not admiring their beauty but judging their imperfections. But Dove knew the new generation was getting impacted by beauty standards and how girls “should look.” They showed, in reverse, how girls don’t need to live up to unrealistic standards.

The campaign aimed to “reverse” the negative effects of social media on young girls. 

Another example is Apple’s campaign called “The Underdogs” which shows a team of four at a company creating the design for a round pizza box and presenting it to their boss in short order. Apple knew they had to connect to people in a new light and chose to do this campaign about how Apple can help people succeed with their products and software. They knew they had to connect to their audience in a different way, they knew people worked hard to reach their goals and they showed that their company is here to help the consumer achieve their specific goal. Apple shows that their merchandise is to help people that want to achieve their goals. They show in the video how to use almost every Apple product and the capabilities of the products, like tools that can be used for work to be more productive. 

Listening to Consumers

These brands listened to their consumers. They learned how to connect with them on a deeper level. They learned what motivates customers to behave in a certain way. Being the right type of account planner means finding the right motivation to influence a campaign. As a bartender, I listen to what concerns people and what excites them. I take that back to my advertising and public relations classwork. I find a deeper, meaningful way to connect to consumers. Finding that deeper connection means consumers express a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand. I take this information and help our campaigns engage consumers on a deeper level. My job as a bartender helped me engage consumers and understand their feelings and emotions, which really matters for the work we do at The Martin Hall Agency.

Dove. (2021, April 20). Dove | reverse selfie | have #theselfietalk. YouTube. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2T-Rh838GA 

Apple. (2019, April 2). Apple at work – the underdogs. YouTube. Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9TdA8d5aaU 

Rawat, A. (n.d.). 10 ways bartenders can self-learn & improve their skills. Bartenders Business. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://bartendersbusiness.com/en/articles/insights-1/10-ways-bartenders-can-self-learn-improve-th

Prange, J. (2022, February 9). Bartending 101: Conversation do’s and don’ts for bartenders. TouchBistro. Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://www.touchbistro.com/blog/conversation-do-s-and-don-ts-for-bartenders/ 

eir-skills-335.htm 

By Grace Campbell

The Power of Music 

In 2000, the Virginia Tech Hokies athletic department was given three songs to choose from as their walkout song – “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses and “Sirius”  by the Alan Parsons Project. They chose the popular nineties song by Metallica. As “Enter Sandman,” played for the first time when the Hokies came out in 2000, a new age began for college football. Much later, in 2021 against ACC rival North Carolina, noise levels were so loud from Lane Stadium during the walkout that a nearby seismograph registered noise – needless to say, the reaction from the fans was astounding! Although the song is relatively new by ‘tradition’ standards (only being used by the Hokies for twenty-two years), it has become arguably the best and most renowned entrance in all of college football. Now, when someone hears “Enter Sandman, they think of the noise of the game, of the experience. They think about their time in college, or of a game-watching party. But above all else, they think of the Virginia Tech Hokies. This connection between the Hokies and their fans was made by utilizing a popular song and has forever made both one aspect of college football and “Enter Sandman,” relevant far beyond their years. How can we accomplish this same thing in our, or our client’s brand? 

Enter Sandman at Lane Stadium

By purchasing popular music and utilizing it in a way that works together with a brand identity, a company can create similar levels of engagement and brand awareness without having to do anything more than use the music purchased when promoting its brand. Additionally, by incorporating the ‘right’ music choice into a campaign, a brand can create an even more powerful identity or theme in the messaging of an advertisement. If just the song “Enter Sandman,” can strike fear into the hearts of Virginia Tech’s opponents, what could the right music selection do for an advertisement? 

How to Acquire the Rights To A Song

In order to use any music created by an artist, a company must first acquire rights to use that music in campaigns, advertisements, on social media, or generally for any other purpose than just listening to it. You can do it by answering these four questions: 

  1. Is the song copyrighted or in public domain?
    • If a song is copyrighted (which popular songs almost always are) then there are several hoops to jump through before you can legally use it commercially.
    • If a song is in the public domain, then you can legally use that song commercially.
      1. Public domain is when a song can be used by the public for free, with no need to request permission for any reason 
  1. Have you reached out to the creator?
    • For popular music, there are generally multiple people involved when creating a song. It is important to reach out to all of them!
  2. How much are you willing to pay?
    • There is no set price for a copyrighted song. The price can vary depending on the agreement. Do you want all rights to the song, or only the ability to use it for specific things?
    • You get to negotiate how much you’re willing to pay an artist. 
  1. Have you both signed the paperwork?
    • Once the negotiation is completed and both parties are satisfied with the agreement, contact a lawyer to make things official. 
    • Once the lawyer approves, payment can proceed and a contract can be signed. 
    • You’ve got the rights to commercially use a song! 

The Cost 

Although the cost of purchasing the rights to a song can drastically vary, it generally depends on two factors. 

  1. How popular the artist is you’re working with? 
  2. How much potential does that song has to make money?

For example, Bruce Springsteen made a deal with Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing to sell several master recordings of unreleased work and his publishing catalog for $500 million in December 2021. Another example would be when Hipgnosis (a song investment company out of the UK) paid an estimated $150 million for fifty percent of over 1,000 songs written by Neil Young in January 2021. 

When looking at purchasing the licensing of one song, that too can vary. Generally, you can purchase the rights to use a song commercially from an unknown or smaller artist for anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars. In bigger deals, a company can choose to either buy rights to the music outright and pay a lump sum, or develop a contract where the artist gets a set percentage of the revenue generated by the advertisement in which their music is featured. 

Additional things to consider when walking through the cost of using any piece of music in longevity. How long will you use this music? How many times will it be played? Across how many platforms? These questions come into play when writing up contracts and are things for both parties to consider before writing up a contract and agreeing on payment. 

The Pros, Cons and Example 

Now that you understand how music licensing works and how a brand can acquire the rights to commercially use music, let’s determine if the “juice is worth the squeeze,” or if all of this work is worth it. In this example, we’re going to choose Harry Styles’s song “Music For A Sushi Restaurant” and determine the pros and cons of using his song in an advertisement. 

Harry Styles

Pros:

  • Harry Styles has over 101 million social media followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • His song “As It Was” remained in the Billboard top hundred for 15 weeks. He is the second longest-reigning artist to hold a space for that long.
  • “Music For A Sushi Restaurant” was eighth on Billboard Top one hundred for 13 weeks.
  • International recognition of advertisement due to relation with an internationally recognized artist and song.
  • Opportunity to positively promote the brand with a celebrity who is generally loved and held with respect and admiration in the public eye. Less concern with scandals or PR emergencies. 

Cons: 

  • Purchasing rights to his music would be a complicated and expensive process.
  • Depending on the content of the advertisement or brand, fans might be hesitant to support it regardless of music and celebrity association. Example: the infamous Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner, or their “Brown Sugar” commercial.
  • The production of the advertisement can leave the brand in the red if the campaign does not succeed.
  • The song may not connect with the messaging goal or overarching brand idea for the advertisement or campaign. 

It is important to keep the brand and idea in mind when selecting music. Even the most famous song that does not conceptually connect to the brand and the idea could end up being a complete waste of money. An example of this can be found in the 1990 Pepsi TV commercial “Brown Sugar” which featured the song “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones. This commercial features a fly singing “Brown Sugar” after drinking Pepsi in a very high-pitched voice. Many comments call the advertisement “disturbing” or “confusing.” The selection of this song might have been the correct choice for the specified target audience, but the way in which it was connected back to the brand or conveyed to the audience was not successful. 

There are, however,  several benefits to aligning your brand or campaign with a piece of music. Ultimately much of a brand’s association with the music will depend on how it is used, in what setting and how often it is played. Apple does a great job of using many different types of popular music in their advertisements, such as using Payday’s “Big Boy” in the iPhone 14 reveal – a song that a Gen Z target audience would know and enjoy. 

If the goal of any brand is to stay relevant, then using music that connects with its target audience is crucial. By having a brand associated with a song, the two become one and the same and the audience will come to enjoy the brand just as much as they enjoy the music. In knowing this, we can come to the conclusion that purchasing rights and working with popular musicians is beneficial for growing and developing a brand identity and staying relevant in the eyes of the brand’s target audience. There are millions of songs to choose from, and more are being made every day. If a brand can create the same excitement that Lane Stadium gets for the Hokies, then it will stay relevant for decades to come. 

Sources:  

By Jillian Peyton

Establishing a unique, memorable brand is not easy in today’s highly competitive market. The media landscape is evolving daily, and creative teams struggle to match the pace of change while maintaining a unique identity that matches their brands’ identities.

All the while, brands trying to emulate the latest trends risk being outperformed by competitors with similar messaging. For real success, a brand must outwit, outsmart and be more imaginative than its competition. On top of that, a brand must beat others to the punch. 

According to a study by The Center for Generational Kinetics, Gen Z, consisting of those born between 1997 and 2010, is the most “Internet-dependent generation,” and therefore, the generation with the most exposure to digital media. Understanding the latest trends is second nature for Gen Z, which has unbeatable expertise in the ever-changing media landscape.


“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

 – Seth Godin


How Gen Z Can Help Your Brand

Because of Gen Z’s youth, you may hesitate to trust them with the fate of your brand’s success. However, Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives, and those with an interest in marketing and communications have the potential to revolutionize your brand’s image.

Having always grown up with the Internet and social media, Gen Z is accustomed to the constant development of new media platforms and shifting consumer expectations. Gen Z is already known to quickly adapt to new social media trends and corporate social responsibility expectations.

Social Media Trends

Gen Z is familiar with all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and BeReal. As social media platforms come and go, Gen Z quickly adapts and creates engaging content.

For consumers to be receptive to brands, creative teams must recognize social media’s capability to bridge the gap between brands and consumers. Gen Z appreciates this element in their own targeted messaging, and according to Sprout Social, Gen Z hopes to “interact with brands beyond the storefront.” 

Recognizing the need for brands to connect more with consumers on a personal level, Gen Z marketers only beginning their careers have already implemented this strategy in their content, simultaneously affirming their undeniable creativity. 

For example, Duolingo, an app for learning languages through self-paced lessons, has a TikTok account managed by Zaria Parvez, a Gen Z marketer who graduated in 2020. Duolingo targets Gen Z consumers through its TikTok, and its content distinguishes the brand from competitors through humorous (and unhinged) videos.

As of October 2022, Duolingo’s TikTok has 4.9 million followers, and the account has earned more than 97 million likes. None of the brand’s competitors, such as Rosetta Stone (430 TikTok followers) or Babbel (22,300 TikTok followers), distinguished themselves in such an organic, creative way that ignited consumer engagement and interest.

By choosing Parvez to manage its TikTok, Duolingo recognized the potential of a Gen Z marketer to creatively revolutionize its brand and help it stand out amongst competitors.

Corporate Social Responsibility

People of all ages expect brands to engage in authentic corporate social responsibility. In response, brands like Patagonia have increased their efforts to improve sustainability and support underserved communities.

According to public relations firm Edelman’s research, 70% of Gen Z is involved in a social or political cause. Across the globe, Gen Z has been at the forefront of political activism, including movements such as March For Our Lives and School Strike for Climate.

Gen Z is passionate, unafraid to stand up for its beliefs and can emphasize your brand’s dedication to social responsibility and change through actionable and authentic means.

Some companies may be wary of the possibility of invoking criticism by establishing the social responsibility important to their brand; however, in the long run, people remember actions better than words. Allowing Gen Z to align your brand with the company’s most meaningful causes will essentially be both rewarding and unforgettable.


Next Steps: Trust Gen Z to Make Your Brand Remarkable

We know trusting young advertising and public relations professionals with your company’s image can be daunting, but the outcome will surprise you.

Your company needs the support of a team who truly understands the shifting intricacy of the media landscape. Gen Z not only understands change, but they thrive with it. Without missing a beat, Gen Z can learn how to succeed with any new media platform and connect with your audience by understanding their most important needs.

Creative teams worldwide are trying to accomplish the same goal for their brand, making it increasingly difficult for any brand to catch the public’s interest. Simultaneously, the public is growing increasingly distrustful of any brand messaging, instinctively ignoring most brand messaging they encounter.

Gen Z understands this mindset, and they can easily distinguish between authenticity and baseless promises. Further, Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives accustomed to constant change, innovation and shifting consumer expectations.

Because of this, Gen Z understands worthwhile content, and they know how to produce and deliver it through your brand in the best possible way. With so many competitors seeking the same outcome, Gen Z’s unmatched confidence and creativity are priceless.

By allowing Gen Z to take the reins, your up-and-coming brand can undergo a positive transformation, cutting through the noise of competitors and catching the eye of your audience.

A group of women wearing jeans and red t shirts standing outside, next to a sign with a QR Code that reads "Scan to Eat"
Members of the Martin Hall Agency Team encouraging WVU students to stop by their “Taste of Freedom BBQ.”

The First Amendment— the foundation of American democracy as we know it— is under attack. Students at West Virginia University showed a general lack of understanding and knowledge about the First Amendment. Most concerningly, students did not seem to care about their freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition, with most students unable to name all five.

Thus, it was our goal to educate students on WVU’s campus about their protections guaranteed by the First amendment and educate them on why they should care about them. Our challenge: shifting attitudes on the First Amendment from misconstrued and undervalued to understood and appreciated. 

Research Insights

After a deep dive into academic and trade literature, as well as reviewing other campaigns and organizations with aligned missions, we found that many people viewed the First Amendment as a political or partisan issue. We also found that students simply lacked knowledge of what the First Amendment was or how to apply the freedoms within it. Further, we understood that while the campaign needed to be informative, it also needed to have an element of fun and engagement that appealed to self-interest.
To move from national insights to better understanding the WVU environment where our campaign would be launched, we also conducted extensive primary research including:

  • Expert interviews with WVU College of Law professors
  • Man-on-the-street interviews in front of WVU’s student union
  • Focus group with questions about First Amendment knowledge and perceptions of other campaigns
  • Quiz testing WVU students knowledge of the First Amendment. 

Our research confirmed that college students lacked a general understanding of and emotion towards the First Amendment and the attacks against it. Specific findings included the most commonly unknown or forgotten freedoms were assembly and petition. We also found that many students remain hesitant in speaking out about attacks against the First Amendment due to fear of not knowing enough or seeming too political. Finally, we found that the knowledge of students within the College of Media was not significantly greater, and in some areas less than, students in other university units.

Research Findings

Two red circles with white text that reads "Many students were unaware of their rights and could not name the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment" and "Many students felt that anything involving the First Amendment was a political or partisan issue"

Target Audience

Based on our research, we also identified three audience segments for the campaign: uninformed, informed and hesitant, and informed and initiated. 

The first segment, uniformed, referred to students who had little to no knowledge of the First Amendment and the freedoms it protects. The primary goal for this segment was to change this lack of knowledge into informed WVU students who are aware of the First Amendment and the freedoms it entails.  

The second segment, informed and hesitant, was made up of people who are aware of the First Amendment’s five freedoms but did not take action to defend them or educate others. This complacency may be due to fear of social backlash or not knowing “enough.” The goal for this segment was to give this group confidence in their knowledge of the First Amendment and make them care about attacks on the First Amendment.

The third segment, informed and initiated, is a group made up of students familiar with the First Amendment and who take action to educate others and themselves on the topic. We knew that this segment would be crucial in garnering support for our campaign and its goals. Since the awareness of the First Amendment’s attacks against it are a familiar and personal issue for this group, it was important for our team to get them to participate in our campaigns and these students have the power to influence and educate their peers to do the same.

The Message

Building on our research insights, we developed a governing brand idea that would serve as the media agnostic key message throughout our campaign.

“Complacency is Compliancy”

Governing Brand Idea

Creating First Amendment Protectors

We wanted our campaign to educate WVU students about the importance of the First Amendment and why they should protect it. To increase student awareness of the First Amendment, we executed both digital and event based strategies with tactics that included a scavenger hunt, an online First Amendment Credential certification, a First Amendment magazine and a “Taste of Freedom” barbeque. A website was developed to serve as a central hub for all aspects of this campaign. 

Digital Scavenger Hunt & Badging Program

The purpose of the First Amendment credential is to ensure that college students are aware of their First Amendment freedoms and can practice and protect them in their daily lives. This badge will prove a student’s knowledge and awareness of the importance of the First Amendment and why it needs to be protected. To earn the badge, students are required to complete a digital scavenger hunt that introduces them to compelling information in a fun and engaging way.  After completing the scavenger hunt, there is a short quiz that tests their knowledge. Successfully completing the quiz results in a certification and badge being emailed to the student. Additionally, we submitted a badge proposal to the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons to award students a credential if they successfully completed a First Amendment quiz. 

White badge with a red outline on a blue background. The badge has an American flag on it and text that reads "Freedom Comes First, 1st Amendment Awareness Completed"
An example of the badge students receive after completing the First Amendment quiz.

Magazine

In order to further our educational efforts, digital and print magazines were produced and distributed to target classes as part of encouraging students to earn the badge. These magazines showed students current real-world circumstances where the First Amendment had been under attack, including the Russian citizens having vital speech, expression and press rights stripped during the Ukrainian war.  

An image of people protesting with their fists in the air. The text reads "Freedom Today" "Say goodbye to your First freedoms. An inside look of how the First Amendment is dissolving in a world of social media and censorship."

The Taste of Freedom Barbeque

To garner even more awareness and participation, we hosted a Taste of Freedom Barbeque in the Free Speech Zone on April 20, 2022. Before entry, students scanned a QR code that launched a quiz. They had to obtain a perfect score to get a five freedoms stamp and their free barbeque. Also on display were banned books provided by WVU libraries. 

These posters helped spread the word about our event while also displaying American flag colors, synonymous with the campaign branding. Our team hung the flyers around campus on doors, walls, windows and bulletin boards. The event was also promoted on Instagram by Martin Hall Agency and team members shared the post on their Instagram stories as well. The QR code on the bottom of the graphic also takes you directly to our website, where students could see what the event was about and find more information on attacks against the First Amendment. 

Success and Results

At the onset of our campaign, we set a strategic objective of securing at least 150 certified protectors of the First Amendment.  As the following results illustrate, we exceeded initial expectations. 

  • 412 certification quiz responses 
  • 167 certified protectors
  • 120 event attendees
  • 146 social media impressions

“We no longer take for granted that young media professionals have a full understanding of the First Amendment – an essential foundational amendment for our democracy and our profession. A certificate that demonstrates 1a competency in media and civic contexts would be a welcome addition to cite on a resume.” 

Dana Coester, Professor, WVU Reed College of Media

Special thanks to the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University for providing financial support through a 1ForAll grant. 

“We believe that by learning and understanding the problem, we can discuss opinions and solutions in a proactive way. By improving the services offered to the community, everyone in it can benefit. The community is rich with people, and everyone is deserving of a quality life.”

Humans Of Morgantown (HoM)
Orange sign with white text that reads, "what is a neighbor?"

The Challenge

Morgantown, W. Va. is home to a diverse array of neighborhoods, businesses and people; however, one community of residents is often neglected, overlooked and dehumanized. The unsheltered population or people experiencing houselessness are often misunderstood and subject to scorn. To turn the tide, our mission was to work alongside the Morgantown Special Committee on Unsheltered Homelessness to create an open and honest dialogue about housing concerns in Morgantown, with the hopes of creating a more empathetic, understanding and welcoming community for all of our neighbors. 

Research Findings

Through secondary research, as well as ethnographic research and expert interviews, we found several factors that contribute to the unwelcoming and often unsafe realities for individuals experiencing houselessness.  The factors include: 

  • a lack of dialogue between members of the unsheltered community and elected leadership; 
  • the use of harmful and insensitive language in news coverage; and 
  • public discourse focused on negative stigmas surrounding houselessness.

Target Audience

For this campaign, we decided to focus on city council members, police officers and individuals who live in the Morgantown area who may have some influence over their communities (i.e. neighborhood association presidents). These audience segments were targeted because of their proximity to the unsheltered community and their ability to impact positive change in the way the unsheltered community in Morgantown is viewed. 

Messaging

We wanted our campaign to send the message that people experiencing houselessness were not a nuisance, but neighbors. They are not “homeless” their home is here in Morgantown and they are valuable community members worthy of respect. To this end, we used this message throughout our multifaceted education and awareness campaign.

“Neighborhoods have people, communities have neighbors.”

The Governing Brand Idea

The Exhibit: Neighbors Beyond Neighborhoods

To better understand our neighbor’s passions we launched the Neighbors Beyond Neighborhoods art exhibit. The exhibit recognized our neighbors’ passion and creativity through works including original live music, photography, paintings, poems and ceramics of, about and by people experiencing houselessness. 

The exhibit was open to the public over the course of three weekends, with an opening reception that took place during a downtown street fair type event and an invite-only closing reception. To get our target audience involved we reached out to community leaders, business owners, city council members and police officers and encouraged them to join us in highlighting the unsheltered community’s work. 

The exhibit provided a safe space for community members to share their thoughts and opened room for dialogue. During the event, visitors were asked to share their reflections on the art exhibit. These written testimonials shared reflections on what it means to be a neighbor, the shared sense of community in Morgantown, the inspiration gleaned from the art and a general sense of compassion.

White poster board covered in rainbow sticky notes
Man talking to man and woman standing in front of an art exhibit
Yellow canvas paintings on a black backdrop
Statue of a man sitting on a wooden block
Man wearing a suit jacket talking to a man in a brown sweater
Man wearing a brown sweater and jeans talking to a video camera

Deliverables

Highlighting the fact that a neighbor isn’t just someone who has a physical address, we also created window and yard signs to let people show their support for their community members. Signs were given to event donors, local businesses, community groups, and elected leaders who displayed the signs in front of their homes and business. 

Exterior of a building with a sign in the window that reads "hello, neighbor"
Orange sign with white text that reads "hello, neighbor"

Media Language Guide

To elevate the use of person-first language and coverage, a media language guide illustrating examples of proper ways to report on houselessness was developed and distributed to local news agencies. 

Pop-up Exhibit

Four pop-up banners created in the fall of 2021 were also used as a way to break misconceptions and increase awareness.  The banners, displayed in local businesses and churches, include quotes from Morgantown residents, both sheltered and unsheltered, with a question asking viewers to identify which residents were housed and which were not. In most cases, viewers are not able to do so, reinforcing the idea that people experiencing houselessness are not much different than those who are housed. 

Digital Assets: Social Media & Website

Humans of Morgantown (HoM) Facebook and Instagram pages, launched in the fall of 2021, were used to introduce followers to different people in Morgantown while also promoting the exhibit. Specifically, Instagram and Facebook highlighted stories of the unsheltered population along with photos of people and fun facts about them. The stories demonstrated our similarities while focusing on the humanization of our neighbors who are unsheltered.

black and white picture of hands
orange background with white text that reads "I'm someone that people can talk to"

Website

The HoM website was used to provide information about the Neighbors Beyond Neighborhoods art exhibit, services for those experiencing houselessness, ways to get involved, the campaign’s message and the steps for reserving the pop-up exhibit. The HoM website is meant to keep our community informed, reach a wider audience digitally and provide additional ways to learn. 

As Seen in Neighbors Beyond Neighborhood

Three black and white photos. One of a woman with short blonde hair and tattoos, one of hands and on of a man sitting in a chair

Results

One of the most successful results from this campaign was the elimination of the word “homeless” from any of the news coverage talking about the Humans of Morgantown campaign. In addition to this Humans of Morgantown also saw an increase in social media engagement, as well as funds raised for local charities benefiting people experiencing houselessness.

Digital

  • Instagram: 37% increase in following; 194% increase in number of accounts engaged
  • Facebook: 86% increase in following; 604% increase in post engagements
  • Total follower growth across all platforms: 65%
  • Total visitors to our website: 781

Exhibit

  • Estimated 500 visitors to the Neighbors Beyond Neighborhoods Art Exhibit including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Morgantown.
  • 30+ yard signs and business decals distributed
  • Money Raised for Friendship House: $1600

News Coverage

Client Testimonial

“The Humans of Morgantown (HoM) campaign undertaken by the Martin Hall Agency surpassed client expectations, produced measured actionable outcomes, and directed future growth options. The creative team listened, gathered data, pivoted to meet and influence targeted objectives. Throughout the process they learned, genuinely exhibiting sensitivity and dignity to a controversial subject and those involved. The team’s judgment and marketing skills are evident in the campaign.” 

-Colleen Lankford, Director of Christian Help

By: Sarah Frate


As social media marketing (SMM) continues to grow, companies are constantly adapting their strategies and tactics to maximize consumer engagement. SMM provides companies with an extremely convenient and effective way to attract both new and existing customers. 

The most commonly known SMM activities involve posting images, videos and text updates that promote audience engagement. However, the popularity and relevance of each activity are constantly changing and adapting. That’s why it’s important to constantly reevaluate your content mix. 

As we all know, the one thing about trends is that they’re constantly changing. If you were to ask marketers a few years ago, no one would have predicted that Tik Tok engagement would vastly surpass Facebook or that QR codes would make a large comeback. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of SMM trends to keep an eye out for in 2022.

Tik Tok Marketing 

In today’s social media world, Tik Tok is the most downloaded app on Android and IOS cellphones and other electronics, dramatically surpassing other social media platforms. The growth of this app has drastically increased since its emergence in 2016 and does not appear to be slowing down any time in the near future. 

Key facts from Sprout Social:

  • 1 billion active users monthly
  • 90% of users go on the app daily
  • 69% of American teenagers are on the app

Also, Tik Tok states that approximately 47% of the app’s users have purchased products seen on the platform. The company added that 67% of its users “agree that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so.”  Sprout Social

Looking at TikTok’s large audience base, marketers can use this platform in order to effectively increase their consumer engagement. For example, a company could collaborate with a well-known influencer to endorse their product/ service to their followers.

Creator economy

In our society today, the average consumer sees between 6,000 – 10,000 advertisements daily. Marketers can make their company stand out from the rest by having a creator endorse their good or service on their social media platform, where they most likely have a large fan base. 

Social media creators/influencers have a huge impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Because of the extremely large creator economy, the industry is predicted to reach $13.8 billion (blog.hubspot.com). Marketers can use the size of this industry to their advantage by incorporating social media creators/influencers into their content strategies.

According to The Voice of Marketing, “content creators are mini agencies.”

social media statistics hootsuit

Rise of social commerce

Another trend marketers should look out for this year is social commerce. This is the buying and selling of a good or service directly from a given social media site. 

The Harris Poll conducted a survey with 250 business directors and over 1,000 American customers to gain a deeper insight into how they use social media platforms as well as how it can impact a company. Here’s what they found:

  • 91% of the business directors surveyed predict that their organization’s budget allocated for social media marketing will increase by over 50% within the next three years.
  • 77% of American consumers surveyed stated that they are more inclined to give a company their business if they have a positive experience with them on social media.
  • 85% of business directors believe moving forward, that data collected from social media will soon become a central source of business intelligence for companies. 

Additionally, the survey concluded that 80% of participating consumers believe that companies are able to create brand familiarity when they market their products or services on social media platforms.

Social media data is the new wave of digital evolution in the marketing world. As you can tell from this insight, the number of social commerce consumers has been on a steady uptick since 2019 and shows no sign of slowing down. 

chart of social commerce trends for US social commerce buyers

Social audio strategies

The appearance of audio within social media platforms is a relatively new, yet beneficial marketing tactic. Social audio is a type of social media that uses audio as its main source of communication. The most known form of social audio is podcasts which have become increasingly popular in the marketing world, but playlists are also increasing in popularity.

This newer strategy not only allows for active user participation but also provides a more in-depth explanation of the content being delivered that isn’t always supported in text. 

The most popular social audio platform used today is Clubhouse, which has approx. 10 million users, both on IOS and Android electronic devices.Types of Social Media Content 

This strategy has experienced a drastic increase in popularity since the early 2000s and is expected to continue its growth into 2022.

Numbers and Facts You Need to Know About Audio Content in 2021 - Business 2  Community

Livestream shopping and Ecommerce

Ecommerce, AKA internet/ electronic commerce, happens when a consumer buys or sells a good or service directly through the internet. The transfer of both data and money is required to carry out these online transactions

A type of ecommerce that is rapidly expanding in the marketplace today is livestream shopping through social media platforms. The decline of brick-and-mortar shopping has sparked the life of this trend since the pandemic outbreak. Sprout Social reports: 

  • 43% of Gen Z have purchased a good or service through social media platforms
  • 49% of Millennials use social media platforms to shop
  • 73% of corporations currently use social media platforms to sell their product/ service
  • 79% of businesses plan to use livestream shopping by 2025

Shoppable content is extremely beneficial for companies to quickly expand their customer base and increase revenue. 



Sources

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-trends/

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-predictions-2017

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-trends-for-2022-predictions-from-the-pros/

By: Noah Coby


Person with long pink hair and bright orange makeup. They are wearing a black shirt with orange flames and an orange skirt
Phoenix a la Ball

Hi, my name is Noah and I am a drag queen, Phoenix a la Ball

Recently, I was asked by someone “What is the weirdest overlap between drag and advertising?” This question started what I like to call “The inevitable crash of advertising ideas into my drag career.”

I have mentally gone over these ideas countless times at night lying in bed, wondering “What music would most generally appeal to the audience I am going to perform to?” and “Who even is my target audience in drag?“ 

I eventually found answers to my questions, elevating my drag, but I also noticed some things or even ideas that may be missed in your advertising class. Here is what I have learned being a “Dragvertising” professional.

So, what is drag anyway?

Two years ago, if you asked me what drag was, I would not have been able to give a concise answer. Now after being a drag performer for around one year, I have gained a better understanding of drag as art.

Drag is essentially an amalgamation of art media. It generally refers to performers that use their appearance, gender expression and performance to entertain an audience. Some mainstream drag artists include RuPaul, Trixie Mattel and Violet Chachki

If you feel lost in a sea of words you don’t understand, more basic information on drag can be found in this Masterclass Article, which details exactly what drag is and how it came to be in today’s culture. 

Where advertising and drag collide

The cosmetology skills, sewing and music are all art and are among the more obvious skills required to have drag be a career. The unassuming skills are ones that as an advertising student, seem obvious to me. Differentiation is one of the first techniques I realized could benefit me, and I began finding what seemed to be missing from the start. In the drag world, being similar is one of the dualistic aspects of drag. It can be helpful with inspiration and technique, but it also diminishes your identity. Drag is an art form and artists draw inspiration from one another. 

So, in this world where no idea is completely original, how do you stand out? In advertising, the next step is called a SWOT analysis. It evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Within drag generally, you would begin by observing the environment you perform in. This is less of a formal process. It does however include many of the same thought processes. It involves evaluating much more loose and unresearched areas, and a certain degree of listening to your audience. 

Person with brown curly hair wearing a long dress with orange and brown leaves, standing in a kitchen

Personally, I noticed a lack of technology use within the Morgantown drag scene. I also noticed the lack of representation of the 2000s childhood experience. Taking these two ideas, I used my skills in audio editing, and created a performance number to music from many of the shows that filled my childhood. On the night of the show, after the performance, I was walking around speaking to people. Many of the comments were on the music choice and its editing, and how they felt nostalgia from it. I realized then I had made a step toward setting myself apart from my “competitors.” One of the main takeaways from this experience that I can now see being useful in advertising is the power of diversity. Someone without my experience could have never created something that resonated with those people, and so the power of having multiple viewpoints lies in the variety of stories you can tell.

The bottom line…

While differentiation is the only topic I spoke about, there are numerous more lessons and ideas I have garnered from working within both the advertising and drag spaces at once. Here are just a few more to consider that mean the most to me. 

  • Being able to design your own assets is invaluable. I create posters for my haus’ performances, as well as edit pictures we use in them. (Examples below)
  • The creative process is the same, so once you grasp it, it is universal. Once you find your method, try applying it to all aspects of your life. 
  • You will never please everyone, just like you can’t target everyone in advertising. Some people will not enjoy your work, but as long as your technique and execution are good you are fine. 

By: Cheyenne Oakes

Most of my knowledge of public relations came from seeing flashy campaigns on television and social media that included athletes, celebrities and influential figures.When I first became interested in public relations in high school, I was unsure of all the opportunities within different sectors of the communications industry. Throughout college, I have learned more about public relations and have quickly realized that I want my future work to have a meaningful impact on lives. After experiencing my own health challenges beginning in the summer of 2020, I developed a deep passion for patient advocacy and began looking for ways to combine my love for public relations with my interest in improving the patient care process within healthcare. Through discussions with mentors and peers, I learned of healthcare communications, but quickly became aware that many students are unsure of how public relations fits into the healthcare sector and what opportunities there are for young professionals within the sector.

What does public relations in healthcare look like? 

Every kind of business needs a public relations strategy in order to effectively communicate to its audience. The healthcare sector is no different. Whether it be hospitals, long-term care facilities or pharmaceutical companies, they all utilize public relations to promote their product or service. And for many businesses within healthcare, the goal of effective public relations is to benefit the patient. 

Public relations within healthcare, also known as healthcare communications, is the use of communication methods to educate an audience on health issues or to promote services and products by a business such as a hospital or pharmaceutical company (Communications Strategy Group, 2021). Although traditional communications methods such as press releases and social media are often used to reach audiences within healthcare, public relations campaigns within this sector are much more likely to have a direct impact on audiences’ health and well-being compared to other sectors (Communications Strategy Group, 2021). Examples of public relations material within the healthcare sector include campaigns to raise awareness for certain conditions or diseases, hospital or health facility material to help prepare patients and families for upcoming stays, surgeries or procedures and traditional press and media releases by health businesses for announcements and crisis communications. 

Take a look at the examples below of two different health communications campaigns from the Lupus Foundation of America and the Ad Council in partnership with the American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that include materials to raise awareness for lupus and prediabetes, respectively. These campaign materials use traditional public relations tactics such as grabbing the reader’s attention with graphics and text hierarchy to inform the reader of potential symptoms of lupus as well as tips for reversing prediabetes. 

Campaign material from the “Be Fierce, Take Control” campaign created by the Lupus Foundation of America. (Image via Be Fierce, Take Control)
Campaign material from the “Do I Have Prediabetes” campaign created by the Ad Council, the American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Image via, Do I Have Prediabetes)

The healthcare campaign below created by the McCANN Paris Agency in partnership with Spinneys Supermarket, the American University of Beirut Medical Center and the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation aimed to educate Lebanese women on how to perform a self-check breast exam by using the traditional techniques of baking bread. In Lebanese culture, women traditionally do not openly talk about their bodies, so the “Bread Exam” campaign strove to educate women while also remaining culturally aware. The campaign went viral on social media and was covered by several international media outlets. This campaign used traditional and non-traditional communication methods to help educate and raise awareness for breast cancer. 

Campaign video from the “Bread Exam” campaign created the McCANN Paris in partnership with Spinneys Supermarket, the American University of Beirut Medical Center and the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation. (Video via, Little Black Book

How does healthcare communications benefit patient care? 

The ultimate goal of healthcare communications is not only to help businesses and companies succeed but also to benefit and improve patient care. One way this has been accomplished is through increased choice for the patient which can be communicated through health facilities’ social media channels.

In the “The In-Demand and Demanding Career of Healthcare Communicators” panel hosted by the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Integrate Online program and the West Virginia University Public Relations Student Society of America, Marketing Consultant at the University of Cincinnati, Maddie Ernst, explained the importance of health facilities using social media to effectively communicate to patients.

“We’re trying to increase awareness of these centers, really educate, on who we are and what makes us different, and really what makes us different is that academic piece,” Ernst said. “And then, how do we portray that on social media when it can be really technical.” 

Ernst shared that patient stories and testimonials communicated through social media channels can be effective when health facilities are trying to reach potential new patients and ease the stress that may be associated with trying to choose the right doctor and facility for the patient’s needs. 

“That’s like one of the biggest ways to kind of just talk about what makes us different and take such technical research terms and technologies and have it spoken by a patient,” Ernst said.  

What are the benefits of a career in healthcare communications for young professionals? 

While healthcare communications is a fast-growing sector of the communications industry, many students and young professionals are unaware of its benefits and how they can become involved. 

Panelists from the “The In-Demand and Demanding Career of Healthcare Communicators” including Ernst; Senior Account Executive at FCB Health, Maya Tretheway; Marketing and Public Relations Director at Boone Memorial Hospital, Karlie Price; and Director of Marketing and Communications at West Virginia University School of Public Health, Nikky Luna shared their experiences of working in healthcare communications and the benefits it has as a career option for young professionals. 

Each panelist works in a different style of healthcare communications including agencies for pharmaceutical companies, teaching hospitals, local hospitals and public health education. They shared that working for an agency consists of busy days with lots of deadlines, but also offers a chance to work on many accounts simultaneously. Panelists working for hospitals also shared the rewarding aspects of getting to tell patients’ stories through their work as well as sharing the constant innovations being made by healthcare professionals every day. All panelists agreed that working in healthcare communications has allowed them a career that feels bigger than themselves and offers them the opportunity to change lives. 

Throughout the event, panelists emphasized that students do not need a strong background in healthcare in order to work in healthcare communications. Having the foundational skills of any communications professional such as writing and storytelling, as well as being open-minded and always ready to learn will help young professionals interested in healthcare communications create a solid basis for their career. 

Although many students may be unaware of how public relations fits into the healthcare sector, the job opportunities offered by healthcare communications are vast and rewarding for young professionals. From traditional agency roles to in-house work for hospitals and health care facilities, the jobs within healthcare communications offer extensive opportunities for beginner public relations professionals to gain experience within the field while having a meaningful impact on the lives of patients. Working in healthcare communications does not require a strong background in healthcare-related fields and by using the foundational skills of any communications professional including storytelling, young professionals can connect with patients in order to improve the healthcare system for all. 

Personally, I believe healthcare communications provides one of the best opportunities to use the skills I’ve learned in public relations strategy to make the world a better place. My hope is that more young public relations professionals become aware of healthcare communications and all that it has to offer, for the professional and for the patient. 


References 

Ad Council. (n.d.). Helpful lifestyle tips. Do I Have Prediabetes? Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://doihaveprediabetes.org 

Communications Strategy Group. (2021, Oct 12). Healthcare public relations: Ultimate guide to PR in a pandemic. https://wearecsg.com/healthcare-public-relations-ultimate-guide-to-pr-in-a-pandemic/ 

Little Black Book. (2021). The Bread Exam. https://www.lbbonline.com/work/53608 

Lupus Foundation of America. (n.d.). What is lupus? Be Fierce, Take Control. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://befiercetakecontrol.org

West Virginia University School of Medicine. (2020, Jan 28). WVU Heart and Vascular Institute named Gold Center of Excellence for cardio-oncology program. WVU Medicine News. https://medicine.wvu.edu/News/Story?headline=wvu-heart-and-vascular-institute-named-gold-center-of-excellence-for-cardio-oncology-program_0 

[WVU Marketing Communications]. (2022, March 10). The in-demand and demanding career of healthcare communicators. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlULpAsSIVA 

WVU Medicine. (n.d.). Preparing for your test. J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://wvumedicine.org/ruby-memorial-hospital/services/wvu-specialty-clinics/radiology/preparing-for-your-test/ 

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