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Knoxville October Luncheon: Becoming the Modern United Way

Knoxville October Luncheon: Becoming the Modern United Way

Change can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Brewton Brownlow Couch, VP of Branding and Messaging at United Way of Greater Knoxville, led the audience through how they have maintained their long-standing reputation while telling the new story of what it means to be a Modern United Way.

Over the past 100 years, United Way of Greater Knoxville has “worked to understand local needs, mobilize volunteers, to raise awareness and money to meet community needs by granting money to programs that align with predetermined goals.”


A Shift in Focus

Couch first addressed why United Way of Greater Knoxville decided to join the network initiative to become the “Modern United Way.”

A concerning trend has emerged over the past ten years. The lifetime value of a workplace donor is declining. When payroll software companies take over workplace giving, instead of a United Way campaign, there is an 80% decline in payroll deductions.

While this downward trend is not unique to United Way, they knew that something needed to be done. Considering workplace giving is a valuable piece of United Way fundraising, they decided that there was a need to rebrand and change the way that they were getting donations. According to Couch, young professions “care as much, if not more, than older generations” when it comes to social responsibility and charitable giving. But nonprofits have not been talking in a way that resonates with them. The goal of United Way’s rebrand was to address this problem.

Next, Couch approached how United Way of Greater Knoxville tackled the task of transforming a 100-year-old organization.

Instead of asking the community to get involved because it is simply the right thing to do, they have started to approach it as a “strategic partner[ship] for corporate social responsibility.” They are accomplishing the same work as always but recognizing the benefits to their corporate partners.

By focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility, or the idea of integrating social and environmental concerns into business operations, companies can help the community while also improving company culture, employee engagement and retention. Turnover reduced by 57% in companies that find space for “Social Purpose as a core business strategy.”

As part of a more modern approach, United Way has adopted some new technology and software to help them reach their goals.  Shared Purpose serves as an umbrella of products and resources for corporate partners. Sales Force Philanthropy Cloud is an exciting resource for corporate partners as well. This collaboration with Sales Force allows employees to set up a profile where they can donate directly to nonprofits, log their volunteer hours and so much more. Information from this software helps employers make decisions based of their employee’s civic interests.

In closing, Couch announces some collaborative opportunities that United Way of Greater Knoxville is assisting with for the community.

Giving Back

Couch and Amelia Everett, Program Manager at Volunteer East Tennessee and board member for American Marketing Association Knoxville, announced several upcoming service events with the audience. KnoxGives on November 8 will be a community day of service in Knox County. Big Give Knox will be on December 3. This 24-hour online giving campaign is designed to raise money and awareness the local-nonprofit community.

Knoxville September Luncheon: Marketing from the Mountaintops

Knoxville September Luncheon: Marketing from the Mountaintops

September’s luncheon featured Erica Moore, the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Anakeesta. As a leader in her organization with experience in media relations, social media marketing and brand management, Erica led attendees through her time ‘Marketing from the Mountaintops.”

Erica was hired into her position at Anakeesta only one month before the Grand Opening. For her interview, she remembers walking through a construction site, wondering how this would ever be ready in time. Despite her short timeline, Erica knew that it is important to make an impact when launching a new attraction. She dove in feet first to make sure Anakeesta made a splash when they opened.

Marketing Tools

When discussing the tools that she uses to be successful, Erica stresses importance of industry leaders. As an attraction in Gatlinburg, Erica has a lot of big names to look up to, including Dollywood and Ripley’s. She doesn’t see these other attractions as competition, as some would. She looks at it as they are “in it with us instead of being in it against us.” She can attribute much of Anakeesta’s growth to listening to local industry leaders.

Anakeesta’s marketing team also relies heavily on digital outlets. These include Google, Facebook, Website Grader, Yext and Hubspot. The analytics features on each of these sites can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of digital marketing techniques. It is also a way to keep in touch with customer satisfaction through reviews.

Lastly, Erica covered Anakeesta’s collateral. These are the guides, brochures, vouchers, banners and more that Anakeesta uses to drive sales. Standing out in such a saturated market can prove to be tough. Erica’s strategy in this situation is simply, less is more. Anakeesta’s collateral tends to stay more simplistic. When looking at a board of flashy brochures, oftentimes, the classic, simple brochure can be attention grabbing.


Erica left the audience with several impactful and helpful takeaways.

  • Change is not bad. It is necessary to stay relevant.
  • Feedback is crucial. Use your data.
  • Look at industry leaders. What can you learn from those doing really well in your business?

In closing, Jessica Gutman, AMA Knoxville Board President, invited everyone to attend the October Luncheon next month, Becoming the Modern United Way to discuss rebranding a well-established organization.

August Luncheon: Boosting Your Communications Strategy with Video

August Luncheon: Boosting Your Communications Strategy with Video

The August Luncheon at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center served as the first meeting of the 2019-2020 board term. Jessica Gutman, the new board president, welcomed everyone to the luncheon and introduced Jenny Woodbery, Digital Media Specialist – Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Woodbery graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2009 with a double major in journalism and political science. She worked as an intern at Knox News Sentinel during college before eventually being hired on to the editorial staff. It was here that she began working on her knowledge of video. She had to learn how to make a video that was unique from the article accompanying it, a skill that is now an integral part of her career.

After working at the Knox News Sentinel, Woodbery went on to manage communications at both the Min H. Koa Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – UTK, as well as the Knoxville Chamber. She eventually began working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2015.

Musts of Short Videos

During her presentation, Woodbery touches on the musts of using short videos to complement existing communications strategies. A few easy ways that she does this in her every day work is by creating short videos that will typically accompany press

releases and featured stories. With such a technical subject matter and a science-based audience, these videos are an excellent way for the public to engage with ORNL’s stories. She also incorporates these videos on the website and social media channels. These have been picked up by national and even global news outlets in the past.

After covering how to integrate videos with current communications plan, Woodbery begins discussing what types of videos have worked for her. She most often uses videos of “talking heads” in the ORNL community. These often consist of an interview and b-roll (or supplemental footage) cut together into a short, informative video. She suggests not scripting these interviews, but let the interviewee speak naturally.

The second type of video that Woodbery covers is the text-heavy explainer video. It should typically stay under a minute and third seconds long, and display text over a mixture of photos and videos. These videos are great for social sharing, since the text captions mean that the video can be watched and understood without sound.

Lastly, Woodbery covers the videos that she calls “just for fun.” With these, she takes inspiration from what she consumes on social. While these videos can be “just for fun,” it is important for them to have a meaningful impact and tie back to the overall mission. She started a #SoothingScience series on ORNL’s social channels, which have been wildly successful.

Shooting and Posting Video

When beginning to shoot and create videos, Woodbery has a few suggestions. The first of which is – make sure the story merits a video. Are there good visuals?  When it comes to shooting the video, she suggests experimenting with angles, get plenty of b-roll shots, and never be afraid to ask someone to do that again. She even suggests that “people get better the more takes they do.” For posting videos, Woodbery’s first rule is to always post natively from your own social media account to reap all of the benefits. For social media and websites, skip the video introductions. This is a great way to lose viewer retention. Lastly, be mindful of the length of your video. Each social media platform has a preferred length for videos, anywhere between 1 to 3 minutes.

Before wrapping up her presentation, Woodbery quickly covers the tools that she uses to master her video communications. She stresses that these items do not have to be expensive. Editing software is obviously an important video tool and she uses Final Cut Pro for all of her own videos, but Adobe Premier is another option. Woodbery suggests investing in equipment, such as tripods and microphones, to help get better quality video. Lastly, she suggests utilizing exiting footage. She often reuses b-roll video, photos and stock music.

Upcoming Luncheon

The American Marketing Association Knoxville will be back next month for the September Luncheon: Marketing from the Mountaintops, featuring Erica Moore. As the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Anakeesta, she will cover how to stay relevant in a competitive environment while planning for future growth.

Photos courtesy of Colby’s Photography

AMA Knoxville Member Spotlight: Lee Hume

AMA Knoxville Member Spotlight: Lee Hume

NAME: Lee Hume

COMPANY: The University of Tennessee

TITLE: Senior Art Director

We help students reach their goals.

My colleagues, the students, and the mission.

35 years.

3 years.

Great colleagues and excellent programs.

Networking and making new connections.

One that is enthusiastic, excited, collaborative, and wants to explore new ideas.

The small “big town”, personal, “can do” attitude that prevails throughout the business community. They always light up when they know they may get a UT job.

Family and home improvement.

Enjoy reading. One of my favorite authors is Dan Brown. Especially liked The Da Vinci Code and Origin. Also enjoyed Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Currently reading Nelson DeMille’s The Cuban Affair.

A Message from AMA Knoxville President Jess Gutman

A Message from AMA Knoxville President Jess Gutman

We’ve come a long way over the past 30 years. 

2002-2003 Board of Directors meeting. Yeah, it’s not 30 years ago, but it’s the oldest board meeting photo I could find!

The Knoxville chapter of the American Marketing Association officially joined the AMA network in 1989, and since then we have served as the trusted resource in advancing the art, science and practice of marketing in our region. 

AMA Knoxville not only provides area marketers the chance to grow professionally and build invaluable relationships, we work to further the industry in our community by investing in marketing students at the University of Tennessee. 

And we’ve done a pretty great job!

The Eagle Endowment for Marketing Education, formed by our chapter in 1990 (yeah, it’s older than me), has grown to over $390,000, and more than $100,000 in scholarships have been awarded to date. It’s the largest endowment of its kind in the nation, across all AMA chapters. 

But, we’re not slowing down any time soon. If anything, we’re prepared to take this chapter to the next level and continue to invest in the marketing community any way that we can. I’ve got an incredible team supporting me for my term as president, and their individual – as well as combined – talents will do wonders for our chapter. 

This year, I wanted to establish a common goal and theme for AMA Knoxville’s board, volunteers and members to rally behind. Something that pushes us all in the same direction, combining our efforts to make serious moves in our community. 

ADVANCE: to move forward in a purposeful way and to make progress

This definition is significant in two primary ways. As an organization, AMA Knoxville advances the marketing industry, and local marketers can advance in their careers through involvement with the AMA. Everything that we strive to accomplish during my term – through programming, membership engagement and community involvement – will be done in a progressive and purposeful way.

My goal is to shake things up a bit and advance this chapter and its impact on the marketing industry in East Tennessee. I hope you’ll join me in doing so. 

If you want to become involved with AMA Knoxville in any way, please reach out to me at president@amaknoxville.com or meet up with me at our first monthly luncheon of the year. I’d love to get you plugged into this amazing community. 

Best Regards,

Jess Gutman, AMA Knoxville President

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