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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

A Message from AMAK President Erica Coffey

A Message from AMAK President Erica Coffey

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. Reading has educated me, broadened my horizons and exercised my imagination. Even now, with precious little time to indulge in my favorite activity, I rely on audiobooks to “get my fix” while commuting or shopping. Reading has impacted my life in many ways, from career aspirations to passionate causes.

What does reading have to do with marketing? Quite a lot, if you think about it. Both writers and marketers need you to be interested enough in their product to want to learn more. However, a clever book or blog title, or social media blurb, needs to have the substance behind it to keep you engaged. Publishing houses and marketing agencies must stay on top of trends and technologies in order to provide timely content in relevant mediums.

This year, AMA Knoxville is focusing on one of the most challenging trends in recent years – storytelling as a marketing tool. Storytelling takes the best parts of both worlds, literature and marketing, and combines them to excite, inspire and motivate people to act (or buy or sell). It’s no longer enough to say, “Here’s our product, isn’t it great? Go buy it!” Now, people want to know the story behind the product and how it will help them. All of our programming this year will be related to storytelling, whether it’s how to tell your brand’s story, how others have incorporated stories into their marketing campaigns or new technology that helps you do it better.

AMA Knoxville is adding another facet to our storytelling theme. We are partnering with Leaders for Readers, part of Great Schools Partnership. Leaders for Readers is a program that helps children in first, second and third grades learn to read and improve their skills by providing free books and matching volunteers with children for weekly lessons. AMA Knoxville will not only be donating books in honor of our speakers but will include the creation of a volunteer recruitment marketing plan at our conference this November. (The conference’s theme is “Wonder,” inspired by Alice in Wonderland!)

Reading is the first step to experiencing all the world offers. Without reading—or wonder—we marketers would not be in the careers we are. Without literacy, we wouldn’t have college students to award scholarships to each year. I am excited that AMA Knoxville is combining the worlds of reading and marketing into one amazing focus this year. I am confident that with our dedicated Board of Directors, volunteers and members, AMA Knoxville’s story will be one of success, community involvement, engagement and education.

2017 AMA Leadership Summit: Knoxville Awarded Turn-it-up Chapter of the Year

2017 AMA Leadership Summit: Knoxville Awarded Turn-it-up Chapter of the Year


Our AMA Knoxville Chapter was humbled and grateful to be awarded the national Turn-It-Up Chapter of the Year for 2015-2016 – which is exactly how I summed up how we feel about the recognition at the national AMA Leadership Summit this past spring. I spent a brief time on stage presenting the story of our award-winning year to a crowd of more than 300 AMA representatives from across the nation. You can check out the video below to see the presentation:

The annual AMA Leadership Summit brings together chapters from all over to network, learn best practices of running a local chapter, and develop leadership skills. The experience was incredible, with an endless amount of knowledge coming from the speakers and sessions. The networking was fantastic and allowed us to make some great contacts, who will serve as resources well into the future. In order to maximize the efficacy of the event, we had four other Knoxville board members attend – Carol Kelly, president; Erica Coffey, president-elect; Jessica Karsten, vice president of digital communications; and Colby McLemore, vice president of membership.

The Turn-It-Up Chapter of the Year award is given to the chapter who shows the greatest growth after numerous challenges, setbacks and extended periods of decline or somewhat stagnant activity. While Knoxville has always been a chapter of excellence, the mid-2000s showed a decline in membership, sponsorship and event attendance, with board turnover becoming more of a problem in the years preceding 2015-2016. Fortunately, we’ve always had a sound financial footing. So, with a focus on recruiting exceptional board members and rallying behind a unified mission to grow membership, attendance and sponsorship (among other goals), we had a great year turning things around.

Some of the highlights from 2015-2016 were boosting event attendance by 54 percent, increasing membership by 29 percent from 99 to 128 members, and securing $15,000 in cash sponsorships alone, which was well above our $6,000 goal. We also held a number of member-only webinar breakfasts and happy hours that generated a sense of camaraderie among members, along with some open networking events for those interested in learning more about AMA membership. Lastly, we gave $9,000 in scholarships to local college students and added $10,000 to our chapter’s Eagle Endowment Fund, which now sits at about $350,000 total.

Our chapter could not have achieved what we did and earned this award if it weren’t for the 2015-2016 board team and volunteers that pulled together throughout the year to work hard and produce the end result, so I believe they deserve all of the credit:

President: Daniel Monday, Slamdot
President-Elect: Susan Napier-Sewell, Designsensory
Immediate Past President: Lisa Rupchak, U.S. Cellular
Secretary: Kelsey Brantley, Clayton Homes
Treasurer: Andrew Hartung, Eaton & Hartung, PLLC
VP Past President’s Council: Sharon Moore, Knoxville Zoo
VP Membership: Lindsay Cates, The Trust Company
VP Volunteers: Abbigail Christensen, Ripley PR
VP Programming: Lori Fuller, Knoxville Chamber
VP Sponsorship: Jim Ragonese, UT Medical Center
VP Collegiate Relations: Chad Elmore, Pyxl
VP Conference: Katey Marina, Securities Service Network+
Director of Conference: Claudette Sariya, FletcHER
VP Special Events: Carol Kelly, Ullrich Printing
VP Communications: Ana Richters, NIMBioS
Director Social Media: Bethany Yandell, UT Medical Center
Director Brand Content: Mandy King, Pyxl+
Co-Director of Brand Content: Jennie Huettel, Mountain Mutt Media
Director Brand Design: John McCulley, Moxley Carmichael
Director at Large: Michelle Anningson, WATE
Director at Large: Marti Townsend, Knoxville News Sentinel
Director at Large: Angie Howell, Knoxville News Sentinel

If you’re interested in the AMA, we hope you’ll consider joining and getting involved in the Knoxville chapter!

photos courtesy of Colby’s Photography

New Brand Identity and Website

Knoxville AMA Announces New Brand Identity and Website

It really began a year ago. An inspiring video debuted at the American Marketing Association’s 2016 Leadership Summit Conference. As professional marketers, we quietly watched what was intended to convey to us a drive, a need, a motivation for reinvention, for a new brand. A child’s expression. Don Draper. The importance of smart communication. Yes, AMA got it right and, most importantly, energized us to go home and make the new AMA brand our own.

Our chapter adaptation of the new brand initiated in earnest as one topic among 22 at our annual retreat on June 23, 2016. A new board member, Lee Hume, senior art director in the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee, volunteered to chair the process of adapting AMA Knoxville to the new brand guidelines. Within the multistep process, we kicked off development of a new AMA Knoxville website to be launched alongside the brand identity. Daniel Monday, immediate past president of AMA Knoxville and COO at Slamdot Web Design & Hosting, chaired the website development initiative, with Slamdot donating its time and work to build and populate the website.

The launch goal date was April 12, 2017, to coincide with the Rebranding UT luncheon featuring Margie Nichols, retired vice chancellor for the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee. Today, amid balloons, custom branded t-shirts, and take-home bags of signature cookies, we proudly launched the new AMA Knoxville brand identity and website. We invite you to get to know us by our new look and experience the website.

Hit Refresh!


Learn from industry leaders:Join us at the KAMA Marketing Conference, October 28, 8:30 am to 2 pm, at King University.

Reinvigorate your brand for the digital age. Hit refresh, starting with your workweek. Branding or rebranding. SEO or social media strategy. A change or redo requires soul-searching. You think about who you are, how you do what you do and how to better do it. Come get fresh perspective and knowledge before you hit refresh.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for news of our speakers and sessions.


Haley Williams, recent Digital Marketing graduate

Greetings, fellow academics! My name is Haley Williams and I am a recent graduate of the East Tennessee State University Masters of Science in Digital Marketing program. I am a part of the first graduating class for the new, digitally focused program and have immensely enjoyed my time in the program.

Firstly, the degree is 100% online. Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not! I felt completely at ease each semester and was able to fit my classwork around my busy schedule. At no point did I ever feel like my degree wasn’t the same as an on-campus program; it was even better. I know many people have reservations about online programs (i.e. professor availability, learning on your own, busy work, etc.). This degree couldn’t be further from those notions. Professors respond to emails within the first 24 hours (if not sooner) and give you all of the tools you need to succeed for each assignment. It really gave me a sense of pride knowing that (with some guidance from my professors) I could develop a strategic digital marketing plan that would be both measureable, create value for my company, and ultimately be successful.

Second, the degree is focused primarily about digital marketing. It’s not an all-encompassing MBA with a couple of digital classes here and there. It’s a deeper dive; every class is focused on the digital environment and hits on every aspect that a digital marketer would need to know to develop digital marketing plans. In fact, I searched for other marketing master’s programs and none that I had reviewed quite compared to the experience I’ve received at ETSU.

Finally, the return on investment. When I first started the program, I was interning at my current company in the marketing department and often had meetings with a marketing manager. I shared the insights I gained from my courses in those one-on-ones. Since then, that team has developed a robust digital marketing strategy that includes social media, SEO, SEM, and analytics reporting. My degree gives me the upper hand especially in such a competitive field.

If you’re looking to learn more about digital marketing and the ever-changing online environment, ETSU is definitely a step in the right direction. The professors really know their stuff; they’re working on their own digital communications plans everyday. So, take the plunge and apply today. You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.

Warm regards,

Haley Williams

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