Blog by John Decesaro
The discussion at the Wichita American Marketing Association’s first Presidents’ Xchange gathering was as wide-ranging as the topic itself. Communications veteran Vera Bothner of Bothner and Bradley, moderated a discussion on strategic communications among a group of WAMA past presidents. Fostering media relations, effective marketing messages and the changing media landscape were just a few of the topics tackled by the group over lunch at Envision’s downtown office.

There were many takeaways as the group of marketing professionals shared their own struggles and successes. Several ideas were thrown about related to helping shape an organization that openly communicates with the media. These include:
• Putting all executive leaders through media training to get them comfortable interacting with reporters.
• Understanding that leveraging the media is not unlike sales—it’s all about relationships.
• Establishing a roster of approved spokespeople within your organization on important industry topics and providing that list to media outlets can position you as a trusted source.
When it comes to creating marketing messages that rise above the clutter, the group offered the following suggestions:
• Consider humor. It can be risky and challenging to get just right, but injecting humor can make your messages memorable and help position your organization as fun and relatable.
• Be bold. Consider larger messages that go beyond talk of product features and benefits. Consider upping the production value to stand out and create a surprise factor.
The group discussed the changing media landscape. All agreed that fragmentation and new consumption habits are making it harder to reach customers. Key points that all marketers must consider include:
• Mass media is not what it used to be. Online video, streaming services like Hulu and Netflix and the increasing amount of niche programming on cable have spread audiences out. Media mixes need to be adjusted to reflect this reality.
• People are doing more filtering. DVRs, online media and pure advertising overload have resulted in consumers being very adept at filtering out marketing messages they deem irrelevant. This demands new creative tactics to micro-target consumers and gain relevance.
The lunch meeting certainly provided food for thought.

Thanks to all the past presidents and to Vera for participating in this lively discussion. Through knowledge sharing like this, we are able to position ourselves, and our organizations, for success.