Laura Phillips Garner – IMC 636 Capstone Project
Graduation Date – Summer 2012
Client – The American Red Cross
Residence – Germantown, Maryland
Undergraduate Degree -Bachelor of Science Journalism, Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University
Misc. Facts – When I was getting my undergraduate at WVU, I was a broadcast news major, but took classes in advertising, public relations and news writing. I thought back then that I would love to get a degree that would combine all of these facets of journalism. I know that’s why I waited to get my master’s degree until the IMC online degree at WVU was created. In my 20-plus years of experience working in the field, I’ve worn all of these hats in one way or another. The IMC degree allowed me to give an academic perspective to my experience and prepare me for the next phase of my career including integrating social media into my repertoire.
I have always been fascinated by what people believe and why they believe it. I probably should have been an anthropologist instead of a marketing communicator, but this field does allow me to explore that interest. One of my favorite books is “Primal Branding: Create Zealots for Your Brand, Your Company and Your Future” by Patrick Hanlon. I read it for my Consumer Insights class.
A brand is much more than a logo. A brand is the relationship a company builds with its consumers every time the company has an interaction with a consumer. People identify with certain brands not because the products are so different but because they want to affiliate themselves with this specific group. Successful brands use their resources strategically to give consumers reasons to belong and to be loyal to the tribes represented by their brands. My MS IMC degree helps me be a better brand manager because I now make decisions involving the brand strategically, taking into account all facets of communication—public relations, advertising, internal communications—when planning and allocating resources.
Capstone Experience – The capstone is not easy, and it isn’t supposed to be. Prepare yourself by getting every morsel of learning you can out of every class you take on your journey to it. Before you start any work, know what the end game is and what is expected to reach it. Read all of the assignments and have a good idea of what you need to accomplish, so you give yourself the time you need to be strategic and creative. Also, get to know your advisor and ask him or her lots of questions because you have the chance to be mentored by very knowledgeable and experienced integrated marketing communicators.
If you do the very best you can on this project, you will have an integrated marketing communications plan and creative executions that you will be proud to show a potential employer as an example of your work. Trust me. It’s worth everything you are going to have to give up over the course of this nine-week period because you will gain the knowledge and confidence only going through this experience will provide you. Most of all, take time to enjoy the challenge. The capstone is one big integrated marketing communications obstacle course, but when you are finished, you will have earned that prized master’s degree, and all those late nights and missed weekends will be a memory.