Good storytelling is the heart of any successful marketing communications campaign.
That message was delivered by Bruce Nelson, keynote speaker at the School’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) master’s degree program information weekend and reunion in late May. More than 100 students, faculty and alumni gathered on campus for the fourth annual event to learn more about the IMC program, network and learn from industry professionals.
Nelson’s speech helped kick off the 2008 IMC Weekend at the Friday dinner and reception. As vice chairman of Omnicom Group, the world’s largest marketing and communications company, Nelson helps Omnicom’s companies develop strategies to better serve their clients and to develop new clients and grow their businesses.
“In the field of integrated marketing communications, Bruce Nelson is a giant,” said Maryanne Reed, dean of the School of Journalism. “He has an international reputation for bringing together multiple marketing companies and disciplines on behalf of his clients and has done it on a larger scale than anyone else.”
Nelson, who confessed to majoring in the obvious for his entire career, told the group that he became a strategist out of self-defense. “As a creative director, I found it hard to follow someone else’s strategy, so I would come up with my own. I then realized I had a niche for it.”
When many in the marketing communications industry insisted that a campaign be just about the advertising or the public relations, Nelson was quick to disagree. He recognized that consumers don’t categorize persuasive messages according to specific disciplines but that they react instead to content. That is why Nelson believes so strongly in integration.
“It is how you connect among all the various disciplines that will make you valuable,” said Nelson. “That is key.”
He reminded IMC students that they are in the business of condensed storytelling. Nelson referenced his famous “Alka-Seltzer to the rescue” campaign and how proud he was to have summed up the product in just four words. “Condensed storytelling is at the core of what brings all of the disciplines together,” he said.
Nelson went on to warn students that telling the story itself isn’t enough – they must also motivate the consumer to take action.
“Most practitioners don’t realize it is all about motivation,” said Nelson. “Commercials can be fun and likeable, but don’t go anywhere . . . there is no motivation. Likeability doesn’t equal motivation.”
IMC Weekend events continued into Saturday and included an information session and panel discussions for prospective students, roundtable discussions for faculty and current students and a series of breakout sessions delivered by industry professionals focused on such topics as green marketing, new and emerging media, entrepreneurship and non-profit public relations.
“It was a busy and fun weekend for everyone attending,” said IMC Program Director Chad Mezera. “Each year, we work to make it something beneficial for potential students, current students, graduates and faculty.”
The 2009 IMC Weekend is scheduled for May 29 and 30 in Morgantown, W.Va.