NonProfit Strategies from the AMA MarketingTech Smart Conference

By Monica Moore

Marketing technology (aka MarTech) selection can be overwhelming and this was certainly confirmed at the 2017 AMA Chicago MarketingTech Smart Conference as each presenter repeatedly pulled up the same graphic of 5,281 current MarTech solutions. This can be all the more challenging for nonprofits, which may have limited budgets, minimal staff, and which are often selling memberships and soliciting donations rather than tangible, high-demand products.

When David Dowgiello from Twitter shared his experience of helping Adidas provide a good customer experience when selling a small inventory of limited edition sneakers to an eager audience of millions, I know I wasn’t the only one in the room wondering, “but what if no one knows about or wants your sneakers? What then?”

Luckily, even if your organization is unable to do everything Adidas does—or else not as robustly—there are several scalable areas you can focus on to help stretch your marketing efforts.

Leverage Your Content or Focus on Content Creation

Though many of the MarketingTech Smart Conference presentations focused on the challenges of selecting the correct tools (and sometimes people) to ease the process of serving up content, disseminating messaging, measuring results, and optimizing for conversions, the underlying message was clear: having lots of (hopefully good) content is critical. And it is on the assumption that this content exists, is available, or can be solicited, that organizations would then make technology decisions.

During her keynote, Robin Kamen of NewsCred reminded the group that each day we’re competing for the attention of an audience that may want to watch funny cat videos rather than hear what is important to our organizations, so we must serve our message in the way that the audience wants it.

This is the crux of content marketing—drawing audiences in not with “sell” messages but by providing them with the valuable information they are already seeking, which in turn will build their trust in your brand and expertise, and ease the conversion process. If you don’t have good content, this is where your efforts should focus. Write blog posts, solicit articles, leverage existing content, engage volunteer writers, or employ content marketing services—do whatever is possible to generate content.

Automate Tasks and Processes Where Possible

Marketing automation can feel like a huge investment both in determining the processes and certainly in purchasing technology. But if you are already spending countless hours manually executing e-mail campaigns, toggling between social media accounts, and tracking user engagement across your website, you could use marketing automation to complete these tasks more efficiently. Adam Bianco of Tide Spin recommended MailChimp or AppBoy as a good place to start.

This does not mean, however, that any given tool or set of tools would significantly decrease your work. Though automation should decrease your manual efforts, it does take time and effort to both implement and maintain, and is only effective if you’re also generating a stream of good leads to respond to.

Analytics, Metrics, and Return on Investment (ROI)

Every marketing initiative should have a goal and a measure of success, and the blessing of digital marketing is that we’re almost always able to test, measure, and revise. Organizations should no longer be sending out various pieces and be unsure which had an effect. Instead, everything should be tied to measurements with the ultimate goal of conversions: click through rates, opens, impressions, engagement, etc. When you can not only hone in on your target audiences but also optimize for their engagement, it can be easier to focus efforts and draw back from areas with lower ROI.

If you are having trouble executing on certain initiatives, let alone testing and tweaking, the following are some of the tools Adam Bianco mentioned that may help:

The key, however, is to keep testing and tweaking. Building a landing page or setting up an ad campaign isn’t enough—with marketing, there is always room for improvement and many changing factors to account for!

Looking for additional support and ideas? Attend the November 7 AMA Chicago Nonprofit SIG meeting on the topic of social media – getting noticed (without breaking the bank).

Monica Moore is Senior Manager, Web and Digital Marketing at Association Management Center

CMO Smart Roundup Part 3: Takeaways from Two Marketing Experts

By John Lawrence

This is Part 3 of 3 of our CMO Smart recap blog series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

We asked marketing executives who attended CMO Smart back in June 2107 to share some of their key takeaways with us. Here’s what Doug Davila, Senior Vice President Agency Strategy and Development at CBD Marketing, and Randy Wagner, Former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Orbitz and current owner of Trans4mation, Inc., told us.

Q: After attending CMO Smart, will you be reexamining your business strategy to better manage the speed of change?

Doug Davila: Coming away from CMO Smart, I see the need to keep everyone who is client-facing more up to date on market changes—it’s not a question of what but of how often do we introduce new things and then reinforce these learnings so that our teams, including junior-level people, can have substantive conversations about what’s new and how it might benefit the client. Sometimes these conversations in between the big meetings can be very beneficial.


Randy Wagner: I’ve effectively been working on strategic change initiatives for my entire career. Whether they’ve been labeled that – or usually: not (often, for reasons above!) What I’ve learned is most important is pretty simple to say, but hard to do: Figure out what’s important. With the deluge of change arriving daily, what’s really most relevant? FOCUS is the challenge for everyone in rapidly changing markets – particularly the C-suite. But it’s a continual process.

Q: The title for this event was “Managing at the Speed of Change.” But let’s be honest, people don’t like change. Matt Gonterman, one of our panelists from JLL, said that managers must be prepared for employees to question and challenge change. What’s the number one thing that you’ll take away from CMO Smart about managing and implementing change across your organization?

Randy Wagner: People will ask questions whether you serve up ‘change’ or ‘evolving’. You should hope they do! That’s an opportunity for engagement. It’s also an opportunity for marketing leadership, since our job is creating answers for internal as well as external audiences. Actually, I’ve found pro-active answering, even before questions get asked, can be the best way to engage everyone in any organization in strategic execution, which only helps achieving goals. The change that will impact your business is already happening somewhere! The key is being vigilant. Not as part of some separate initiative, but as part of your ongoing, collaborative work process.

Doug Davila: Honest communications. People can be jaded about change, especially when they don’t fully understand the organizational benefit. If change is truly going to take hold internally, you have to show your people the benefits, and incentivize them to accept the change. We’ve seen too many cases of change, or acquisitions not going well because of poor communications and no demonstration of true benefits to those who are not senior managers. A change that only benefits the C-suite and investors is not one that the rest of the organization can get behind.

John Lawrence is a marketing specialist at DeMarche Associates, an institutional investment consulting firm. He recently completed his MBA at Loyola University of Chicago. Marketing is actually his second career. John is a former journalist and television news producer. In addition to volunteering for the AMA, John is a member of the community advisory council for The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.


CMO Smart Round Roundup Part 2: How Leadership Manages at the Speed of Change, and How C-Suite Partners Resource Ideas

By John Lawrence

Marketing executives from some of Chicago’s most prestigious companies and non-profits joined moderator Kim Feil for two CMO Smart panel discussions. They shared their professional experiences and offered advice on managing a rapidly changing business landscape and fostering best practices for working across the C-Suite back in June 2017.

Innovation, solving problems for clients, and investing in digital marketing and analytics were some the key ideas that emerged from the first panel, which was titled “How C-Suite Partners Manage at the Speed of Change.” The panel featured Patrick Bernardi, CMO for Hu-Friedy, Jennifer GoodSmith, VP for The Morton Arboretum, and Jonathan Copulsky, Retired Principal and CMO for Deloitte.

Patrick Bernardi set the tempo by challenging the audience to tackle change head and seek new business developments and emerging trends. Bernardi’s firm, Hu-Friedy, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium dental instruments. Bernardi noted, however, that his company has begun to see diminished returns from traditional advertising in dental journals. Instead, they’ve found that marketing can create value for a new generation of customers by allowing dental hygienists to connect with each other using the Salesforce Community Cloud. To stay competitive, his firm is also creating added value services such as a dental tool recycling and an infection control compliance program.

Jonathan Copulsky observed that during his time at Deloitte there has been significant blurring between traditional sectors. This creates what Copulsky called ‘adjacencies,’ business opportunities from new segments which an alert executive can use to create growth.  Added value services or allowing customers to connect with each other, as Hu-Friedy has done, are effective ways of exploiting these adjacencies.

Innovation and technology, of course, must serve to satisfy client needs. Copulsky cautioned that CMOs today must balance innovation with the tried and true and he challenged executives in the audience to put themselves in the shoes or their customers. “Most of us have never been a customer of the company for which we work,” he said. Jennifer GoodSmith, reminded audience members that branding is as important as ever. As VP for The Morton Arboretum, she faces the challenge of making scientific data interesting and relevant to a general audience. “Tell a story that people can relate to,” she advised.

Bernardi, GoodSmith and Copulsky all agreed that managing at the speed of change required investing in digital technology and analytics. From social media and geotargeted digital advertising to narrative science technologies powered by artificial intelligence, the panelists described how their firms are experimenting with technology to reach the right audience in the right place at the right time.

The second panel, “How C-Suite IT and CMO Partners Resource Ideas” featured Jones Lang LaSalle North America (JLL) executives Jill Kouri and Matt Gonterman. Kouri has been the CMO for three years while Gonterman became the new CIO in 2016. Kouri and Gonterman have been working on a transformation initiative for JLL North America, a major player in the commercial real estate services sector, that includes repositioning and rebranding. These two executives displayed a dynamic professional chemistry that other teams will be inspired to replicate.

They offered several key insights to help other executives coordinate their team’s efforts. Kouri was clear that to be successful, the CMO and CIO must be in lock step. Gonterman explained that he and Kouri have been able to work well together because they first ensured they were solving the same problem. They have focused on JLL’s business goals and how the firm makes money. Then they asked whether the company’s technology and marketing approach was helping the bottom line.

From this approach, you’ve probably detected an emphasis on strategy. Gonterman explained that this was intentional. Executives, Gonterman emphasized, must focus first on strategy, then structure, and finally on people. That’s not to diminish the importance of people, but rather to emphasis the plan and processes that will allow employees to succeed. Of course, change is never easy and Gonterman cautioned the audience to expect employees to question change. To address those concerns, Gonterman said, “Listen, acknowledge, move forward.”

John Lawrence is a marketing specialist at DeMarche Associates, an institutional investment consulting firm. He recently completed his MBA at Loyola University of Chicago. Marketing is actually his second career. John is a former journalist and television news producer. In addition to volunteering for the AMA, John is a member of the community advisory council for The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Read about Kim Feil’s powerful keynote presentation with our CMO Smart recap here.

CMO Smart Round Roundup Part 1: Dynamic Market Forces Facing Today’s CMOs

By John Lawrence

In June 2017, Chicago AMA held its first CMO Smart forum, bringing together some of Chicago’s most dynamic marketing leaders to discuss the changing landscape while sharing best practices to collaborate across the C-Suite and tap into the resources needed to achieve growth. The event was moderated by Kim Feil, CEO of bizHive and CMO/CSO for Aspire Healthy Energy Drinks. Kim is also the President of the CMO Club Chicago and has been a retailer, general manager, consultant and e-commerce leader in marketing, sales and strategy with OfficeMax, Walgreens, Sara Lee, Kimberly-Clark, Information Resources Inc., Dr. Pepper/7UP and Frito-Lay.  Kim shared her unique insights on the strategies that marketing leaders need to adopt and master in order to thrive.  I’ve shared some highlights from her powerful keynote address:

Life is getting better for your customers. With just a mobile phone, your customers can shop online, arrange for an Uber, order and pay for Starbucks, and book a flight and Airbnb for an upcoming vacation. Technology is disrupting every industry from retail to transportation to food services and hospitality. And the speed of change is accelerating. In her CMO Smart keynote address, Kim Feil boldly declared that tech is going to drive everything that we as marketers do. While life keeps getting better for your customers, it’s only getting harder for chief marketing officers.

Amidst the peril of technological disruption, however, there’s also untold promise as new markets and unexpected opportunities emerge. CMOs need to do two things to prepare according to Feil: embrace technology and go back to the strategy drawing board to reevaluate how you do business. Now is the right time to do it because the economy is healthy and that means businesses have the opportunity to innovate and grow.

To illustrate her thesis, Feil surveyed a number of key industries that are experiencing profound change due to technology. Retail was first on the list. In no uncertain terms, Feil declared that retail is NOT dead but the future is complementary software design. To succeed, retailers must create a seamless experience for customers between online and offline shopping. Exactly how that will work is an area for experimentation and innovation. It’s clear, however, that retail is at a turning point and the strategies many retailers have been using simply no longer work.


Transportation is another major industry undergoing technological disruption. We all know about the impact of Uber and Lyft on the taxi business. That will pale compared to the impact of self-driving cars. Feil explained how the widespread adoption self-driving vehicles will disrupt hundreds of industries across the globe. Auto makers, car dealerships, gas stations, auto repair shops, parking garages, rental agencies, auto insurance, tire manufactures, and even ride-share firms like Uber will all have to transform the way they do business. Not all of these enterprises will successfully navigate the new transportation landscape. However, the firms that hone their strategies to embrace tech developments and exploit new opportunities are much more likely to survive and even thrive.

Along with adapting to the revolution in technology and the rapid evolution of consumer behavior, businesses need to look inward. C-suite executives must ensure that they have the workforce, corporate values, and company culture necessary to meet the challenges ahead. Feil pointed out that the increasing importance of technology has revealed a growing skills gap in many marketing teams. Digital marketing literacy and analytics proficiency are essential to your team’s success. Business leaders must also be aware of how implementing change will impact the culture and mission of their firms. Change management is a critical skill for executives.

Managing at the speed of change may seem daunting, but Feil suggested several ideas to help CMOs stay ahead of the curve:

  • Stage war games with cross-functional teams to test your response to changes in the marketing environment.
  • Study industries that are far from your own to gain new ideas. Shop your category with millennials.
  • Dedicate team time to debate the impact of external trends.
  • Create contingency plans to handle internal and external changes.
  • Identify potential support partners and resources that are needed to successfully pivot your strategy.
  • Finally, know where you need to build, buy, and ally to prepare yourself for the future.

As marketers, we’ve watched as technology has revolutionized the entertainment industry. We’re now seeing the profound impact it’s having on retail. No industry is immune. As Kim Feil made clear, technology is going to drive everything we do. Reinventing our approach to business means we’ve got some hard work ahead but the new markets and the new opportunities for success should keep us energized and ready for change.

John Lawrence is a marketing specialist at DeMarche Associates, an institutional investment consulting firm. He recently completed his MBA at Loyola University of Chicago. Marketing is actually his second career. John is a former journalist and television news producer. In addition to volunteering for the AMA, John is a member of the community advisory council for The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Career Smart Roundup: ‘Full-Assing It’ to Drive Results

by Traci O’Brien 

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” (Albert Einstein).  If we do, we are slacking and I’ve got a hunch that Product Marketing Leader at Arity / Allstate’s Tiffani Saxton, and PrizeLogic’s SVP Aaron Lobliner, would be disappointed.  Tiffani challenges us to be thorough and not to “half-ass” anything.  Aaron chimes in and hilariously coins the phrase “full-ass it” which is giving a project your all… otherwise what’s the point?  Chicago was not built and then rebuilt by slackers who lacked vision.  After the fire in 1871, it was built bigger and stronger with Chicagoans blood, sweat, and tears.

What a brilliant bunch at Career Smart 2017!  In the panel referenced,“Tips to Delivering Results in Agency, Non-Profit and Start-Up Cultures,”we heard from head marketers at: Allstate, YMCA, PrizeLogic and Proxfinity.  This was a practical panel discussion spanning a diverse range of industries and breadth of knowledge.  What they all had in common was their ability to articulate fundamental truths that helped them navigate toward success in our ever-changing world.  Many powerful messages were relayed and here are some insightful nuggets of wisdom for you to chew on.

Wisdom Nuggets

Aaron Lobliner—PrizeLogic

  • If you want to be a good salesperson, be a good waiter.
    • I concur! Obviously, I’m an excellent sales manager at Windy City Limousine because I waitressed at the Cheesecake Factory and Cubby Bear.  Kidding aside, I understand his emphasis on being able to manage difficult situations on the spot. Being resourceful when chaos ensues and facing those customers in a calm yet heroic manner = major life skills!  Everyone should wait tables.
  • No matter where you work, give a damn. Care about things… that’s what I look for in job candidates – ones who are passionate and do things to show they care. 
    • He explained the significance today more than ever with interactions being more impersonal, the little things like writing a hand-written note or helping when it’s not required, goes a long way. With companies acting more intimate to evoke emotion and loyalty, why not make your brand be a person who gives a damn, has a purpose and full-asses it?  Lobliner explained that this translates into recognition and promotions.
  • Different strokes for different folks.
  • Be a student of the industry and ask people what they want, most people are willing to tell you.
    •  Observe, listen, and adapt in ways that makes sense to reach goals.
  • Need to know who you’re talking to, when the best time to send the message is, and which channel is appropriate.
    • Emphasis on understanding your audience, trends, and adapting strategy to new and significant data to help you improve effectiveness – work smarter!

Tiffani Saxton –Arity / Allstate

  • Don’t half-ass anything.
    • Hence the source from which I created this classy title, but you clicked on it didn’t you… of course because don’t we all want to “full-ass” our life, aka, have a purpose (an Ice Cube song comes to mind, “you can do it put your back into it…”). Maybe we must love what we do enough then… (“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…” Beatles). Tiffani succeeds with her work by being thorough and giving her best – it’s no mystery why she has been continuously promoted to higher ranks throughout her career.  She attributes much of her success to understanding people and learning not to take things personally.  I need to brush up on this and if you feel the same, she swears by the book “The Four Agreements.” Boom, just ordered the audiobook.
  • Learn to listen more than you speak.
    • She mentions that the guy in the meeting talking just to hear himself speak, is the one probably missing something mega important (while simultaneously irritating many). We all know this guy or gal.  Strive not to be them.
  • Marketing is not sexy. There is more math, writing and creating than people expect and its hard work.
    • She explains how many people (oh just say millennials) apply for marketing jobs and expect it to be all high-fives and taking shots… well the kind of shots she wants us to take are not of liquor (maybe on Friday, but it tastes better when you earn it) but more risks! She believes brands (personal ones included) need to stay brave and that risk taking/experimenting must become a lifestyle… now I must say, that could be sexy.
  • Leverage your employees to learn about how they are driving business.
    • She seems to take a beautiful stance that all viewpoints are useful and it is our duty to invite those conversations and choose to listen.

Christina Bradway –YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

  • Know when you don’t give a damn and what you’re not good at.
    • No one likes a know-it-all. Be comfortable articulating your shortcomings – owning them and being transparent will allow you to improve or move forward.
  • Importance of mentorship.
    • A lost art in too many organizations. Yet we are still responsible for seeking out someone we admire and want to learn from.  It could change everything.
  • Marketing is not for making things look pretty. I’m here to help make sure the message you’re trying to relay is communicated effectively. 
  • Don’t say no, say how about…
    • Everyone has their own views and cultivating an environment that welcomes people to share theirs will make people feel valued and lead to more success.
  • Watch what other employees are doing
    • In a non-stalker kind of way, be observant and ask questions.
  • If you’re pushing a message, you don’t know your buyer well enough. Use data to solve problems.  Be brave enough to offer them solutions to problems they haven’t thought of yet.

Christine Hutchison—Proxfinity

  • Be a student of life. I keep my eyes open, and I study life.  Look around you and not so much down (on phones).  Be personable and a little bit vulnerable. 
    • Many nuggets here! Be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be ahead of those who are always on their phones. Keep interacting with people in real life… novel idea, eh? I’m excited for her smart badge to change the way we do this… before we forget how…
  • The start-up world challenges my employees to figure things out on their own and to be resourceful.
    • Being independent and able to take initiative are crucial traits to be successful in the start-up world.
  • Know what tools are out there and which ones belong in your toolbox.
  • We’re in an experiential economy. If you verbalize something to yourself, you’re much more likely to do it.  
    • Talk about your goals. Take calculated risks. Grow from them.


Per my observation, each of the four panelists demonstrated a high-level of awareness and emotional intelligence, which are key to success.  Overriding themes include “full-assing” everything you give a damn about.  Thus, give a damn about the place you work.  This starts with understanding yourself, your strengths/weaknesses and what you want to do.  Christine humbly mentions not being the smartest cookie nor having prior marketing experience before becoming CMO of a fast-growing smart badge technology company.  Despite not knowing everything, she is the perfect CMO for Proxfinity because of her vision; understanding the need it will fulfill, its power to transform everyday interactions, and how to take it to the next level.  To “full-ass” life, be adaptable, listen more than you speak, work on your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) score – everyone has areas for improvement, and maximize on your strengths.  How will you drive results and leave your mark?


Dual-master’s degree graduate focused on Promotions, Psychology, and Philosophy. Having lived in France for 1.5 years, Traci A. O’Brien is globally curious and highly adaptable. She’s a natural with people and her Marketing Research Teaching Assistantship at SIU helps her embrace the power of data. As Global Sales Manager of Windy City Limousine by day, Traci dabbles in the Music and Comedy scene by night. Contact Traci at  

Whose job is it Anyway..PR or Marketing? – Recap

by Brittany Tepper

On May 11, 2017 the American Marketing Association’s Sunrise Executive Series first debate hosted five industry experts who tackled the age-old question: whose job is it anyway, marketing or public relations?

During the debate, some of the industry’s most controversial questions were raised. Here’s a summary of what went down:

Question #1: Social media has become a powerful tool for brands, but who should own it?

Marketing perspective:

Erin Williams, Director of Marketing at Bright Pink, shared how her non-profit organization utilizes social media as a touch-point for consumer connections. Williams opened the debate by asking the audience, “who owns your brand experience?” She then went on to emphasize that the consumer’s journey is in her hands, as a marketer.

Williams continued to stress on the important role of social media advertising to Bright Pink, citing examples of various tactics used by her organization over time to optimize on their advertising ROI. For example, through Facebook advertising, Bright Pink was able to get hundreds of women to take part in its breast and ovarian cancer assessment quiz, at 13 cents a quiz – a highly cost-effective tool by most standards.

PR perspective:

Luke Cushman, Vice President at Wilks Communications Group, pivoted to the role of PR in message management on social media. He argued that PR is responsible for taking objectives and molding them into compelling stories to increase engagement and improve media relations.

Cushman illustrated the role of PR in social media through a case study on TGI Fridays’ “endless appetizers” campaign that covered a competitive eater’s effort to “eat TGI Fridays out of business”. Cushman further explained how TGI’s social media presence amplified the promotion’s impact and strengthened engagement to the point that the campaign was picked up by several media outlets including Newsweek, something that the promotion alone may not have done.

Question #2: Content is king, but who should develop it?

Marketing perspective:

“When it comes to developing content, the beast is always hungry,” said Susan Szymanski, Vice President of Marketing at SPINS. According to her, “Marketing should always have a panoramic view of content and be responsible for everything the brand touches.”

Szymanski then proceeded to explain how SPINS’ main KPI, like that of most marketers, is to increase sales. She debated that it’s the marketing team’s responsibility to align objectives with sales and produce content that is ingrained in the company’s bottom line.

PR perspective:

Kelly Shannon, Vice President of University Marketing and Communication at Loyola University said that no matter who owns content, everyone should have a seat at the table. Adopting such arrangement helps uncover newsworthy content no matter the source. Shannon then proceeded to illustrate with an anecdote about a mother and daughter walking in the same commencement, stressing that such stories would not be possible without the collaboration of several teams across an organization working together as storytellers.

She further discussed the importance of channel integration and seamless transition of content; “Brands can’t afford to be 100% channel agnostic. Surely, no one has unlimited resources at their disposal to experiment at the expense of efficiency and effectiveness of their content marketing efforts” Shannon concluded.

Question #3: Who owns crisis management?

As was evident in the discussion, 100% of experts agree that crisis management falls under public relations.

Sam Randall, Director of Communications at Cook County Sheriff’s Department, certainly knows a thing or two about crisis communication. To him, the key to handling a crisis is all about being first and being truthful:

  • Being first allows you to get ahead of the story and prepare for communicating it.
  • Being truthful is simply the right (and essential) thing to do!

So, Who Won?

We’ll let you decide! Before you do though, keep in mind that our experts unanimously agreed that the most successful organizations have an integrated strategy and think of marketing and PR as a partnership that aligns under one goal.

About the author: Brittany Tepper is a Marketing Manager for Chicago Loop Alliance and a volunteer at the Chicago chapter of the American Marketing Association. You can find her blogs on Loop events and activities at 

ROI of Executive Media Training

by Noeleen McGrath 

I took an interesting meeting with a CEO recently. Within five minutes, it became clear to me that I walked in with the wrong assumption i.e. that he understood the value of executive media training. He didn’t.

In fairness to me, media training is such a given in most company’s executive development programs that it didn’t occur to me that this CEO wouldn’t appreciate its worth.

The CEO wanted to be able to measure his return on investment. I explained that executive media training is not like SEO— an easily measured metric. I can’t promise you that it will deliver you x number of customers or this many impressions.

What I can tell you is that the ability to communicate your message in the media—across all platforms—is invaluable. And the inability to do so is at worst—catastrophic– and at best– a missed opportunity.

For example, if you’ve gone through an executive media training program– and you do well during a three minute interview on a top morning network news program— you can communicate your message to five million viewers for free. If you wanted to buy three minutes of advertising during that show—it would cost you at least $300,000.00.

If you have NOT been media trained–and you don’t do well during that interview—you’ve not only missed an opportunity to connect with millions of people in one fell swoop, but your performance might cause some people to think negatively about you, your company and/ or your brand. (Example: BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, “I want my life back.”)


Intangible Results

How do you measure confidence? You can’t. But you know it when you see it. And you know when you feel it. Nothing will build your self-esteem more regarding interviews than being media trained. There’s something powerful in knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way. The best executive media trainers make sure that you are prepared for every scenario.



Lastly, the CEO asked why he should work with me. I shared my favorite compliment from a client.

“While other media trainers I’ve worked with have left their students with a list of “do’s and don’ts” to worry about, Noeleen left them with the two things they really need: new skills and the confidence to use them.”

And that is what makes my executive media training services… priceless.


Learn from Noeleen at Career Smart 2017

Breaking Through in Today’s Workplace – Media Training Workshop with Noeleen McGrath
May 15, 2017, 6:00-7:15pm, Job Fair Studio Session 1 – Workshop 1

Register today!


About the Author

Noeleen McGrath is the Founder and President of McGrath Comm. They specialize in executive media training and executive presentation skills coaching. Noeleen was an award-winning television news journalist for 12 years at the network and local levels. Her years of interviewing executives convinced her to develop programs that emphasized messaging, on-camera and crisis communication skills. McGrath works primarily with executives in Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies.


“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” – Miles Beresford Kington

by Gary Kash 

The combination of enhanced marketing knowledge and the wisdom of how to execute smartly will help you get where you want to be in 2022. Be at Brand Smart 2017.

“Too busy.” “Too many deadlines.” “I know what I need to know.” “Not enough return on my investment.” My sentiments before attending Brand Smart 2016. Wrong. What happened was I complemented my marketing arsenal with words of wisdom from the select few who had successfully navigated the roaring seas of change to make an impact. Hearing the case studies, the underlying strategies and how these were translated into superior execution that resulted in brand growth made me a smarter and better consultant.

Critically, I heard the same story from younger as well as more seasoned marketing professionals as we shared war stories, lies and cocktails. We learned. We grew. We got smarter. We were going to be better. It made me want to give back.

And, so I shall.

This year I will share a presentation in which I provide a new perspective on the critical importance of a powerful, emotional, positioning platform. And, you will have a blueprint so you can develop your own platform; one that connects consumers to your brand. Correct, it is not about connecting your brand to consumers; rather, having people wanting to connect with you.

Knowledge and wisdom gleaned in a single day from some of the best marketing minds in the world. Not a bad ROI. And, there may even be a fruit salad.


Brand Smart 2017

“The New Brand Journey: A Day of Master Classes”

April 27, 2017, 7:30am – 5:00pm

Gleacher Center at University of Chicago, 450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 




Gary Kash’s experience spans consulting, brand marketing, advertising and marketing research. As President of Insights in Marketing, his counsel was sought by companies like MillerCoors, CDW, Gerber, General Mills, Liberty Mutual, Pepsico and S.C. Johnson. Gary’s ability to guide and counsel others has resulted in him being mentor to many and a sought-after speaker. Recently retired from corporate America, Gary now leverages his wealth of successful consulting experiences to help businesses of all sizes and industries prosper. You can email him or reach him at: 847-217-4500.

Luv Led Me to Brand Smart

by Sherry Duda 

According to GroupM, worldwide media and marketing spend will surpass $1 trillion in 2017. Corporations, brands and agencies make a lot of promises. While the brand’s creative expression may attract users, it’s the delivery of the promise that matters most to consumers.

We assume brands will deliver what they say…until there’s a breakdown. Jerry Seinfeld demonstrates his frustration with a broken promise…

Like a reservation, anyone can make a promise. The tougher part is delivering and delivering consistently.

Branding is at a tipping point. Ask United Airlines.

Could it be the confluence of social media, corporate scandal, a growing distrust for large institutions, and millennial values that has led us onto a new path? Only 18% of us have high confidence in big business according to Gallop’s 2016 polls.

If you peak behind the curtains of many fast-paced growing organizations, you’ll likely find actions, symbols, behaviors and experiences in conflict with the essence of the brand resulting in siloes, unaligned leadership teams, passive-aggressive behaviors…  and other dysfunctions. When these “say do gaps” are revealed externally, consumers lose trust.

My passion for bringing brands to life from the inside led me to Brand Smart 2016.

Chicago’s AMA featured Dave Ridley, Southwest’s former CMO, as one of the keynote speakers. Dave shared some of Southwest’s proactive levers to align its culture and its brand to truly deliver consistently and predictably. He was generous, entertaining, and with BrandSmart’s informal context, I was able to chat with him personally during the happy hour to compare notes on cultural best practices.

The practicality of the speakers, the quality of the content, the attendees — some of whom I now call friends, made it easy for me to accept the honor to both lead the Brand Smart 2017 design team and participate as a speaker with Colin McBean in a session called “Your Culture is Your Brand.”

What’s in it for you to attend Brand Smart 2017?

  • Interactivity with leading brand experts.
  • Practical and actionable content.
  • Diverse options.
  • Value.
  • And, that’s my promise to you.

About the Author

headshot_Sherry DudaAs Chief Executive Officer of Alex Reidy & Company, Sherry Duda is a growth accelerator and disruptive change expert, aligning the body and soul of brands, so they can navigate through high stakes transformation. Sherry helps senior teams shape their culture to end “say do” gaps so they can keep their promises and truly deliver, consistently. Contact Sherry at or

Evening with an Expert: 360 Chicago

If you’re a Chicagoan, you have likely noticed that the iconic John Hancock Observatory has recently gone through a facelift! It is now called 360 CHICAGO. And if you were lucky enough to attend the latest evening with an expert that focused on building a brand experientially, you would have had the chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the new space…and enjoyed a breathtaking view while you’re at it!


The evening was kicked off by Nicole Williamson, General Manager at 360 CHICAGO, who walked us through the transformation journey from conceptual design to fabrication and installation.

Here are a few of the defining moments: