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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 June Luncheon: Maximizing Your Marketing Budget

AMA Knoxville June Luncheon: Maximizing Your Marketing Budget

At the AMA Knoxville June Luncheon, Dr. Todd White discussed the wildly popular brewing industry. As president of The Brewing + Distilling Center, he shared his knowledge of how small breweries can fully utilize their “shoestring budgets” to maximize their impact in the ever-expanding market.

After starting out in the veterinary field, Dr. White decided to tackle a new career. In 2008, he opened a craft beer department in The Market in Maryville, TN. This was one of the first, if not the first, craft brew store in East Tennessee. After meeting Marty, the pioneer of the Smoky Mountain Brewery chain, Dr. White began to entertain the idea of opening his own brewing education school. In 2013, he was finally able to convince South College to work with him on a brewing education course. This eventually led to him opening the Brewing + Distilling Center, which is a trade school and professional certification program.

The Brewing Industry

When diving into the history of the brew industry, Dr. White shared enlightening numbers on the history of brewery economics. In 1873, there were over 4,000 breweries in the United States. A century later in 1978, there were only 89 due to prohibition. The brewing industry has been steadily increasing ever since. As of 2018, there were over 7,000 craft breweries in the United States. Ninety-nine of those are in Tennessee, with 20 alone being in the Knoxville area.

These breweries have had a huge impact on the Knoxville area. It has created $1.14 million dollars of revenue in Tennessee alone. In Knoxville, it has created roughly 195 jobs and created $7.9 million dollars in wages and benefits. Sales and output of all breweries in Knox, Blount and Anderson counties totals a whopping $43.7 million dollars.

Knoxville Brewery Marketing Strategies

Despite these big numbers, most craft breweries are small businesses with even smaller budgets. A case study of the craft beer industry in Knoxville revealed some valuable information about the marketing strategies of these businesses. Since most of them are on a small budget, they will have non-traditional marketing and their overall strategy will not be defined.

Most craft breweries strongly utilize social media as a low-cost way to promote their new beers, events and collaborations. Dr. White suggests that it is important that all posts be positive in nature, avoiding “edgy or controversial” content. He notes that craft beer has become mainstream and that these tactics do not resonate with the general public.

The most important things that craft breweries will spend money on are logos, trademarks, and label imagery. Almost as important, craft breweries will spend money on merchandise for customers to wear. These items are to serve as promotional marketing in the community, not to create profit for the business. Beer events are also an important aspect of the craft brewery marketing plan. These events help build relationships with the community, promote their name and product and lastly, but not any less important, support causes in the community.

With small budgets, it is important to pitch small projects at a time. It would be better to spend $400 for a two-week campaign instead of a $5,000 campaign for the entire year. Developing relationships with the brewer and understanding their customers is a must for a successful experience. By working with all of these things in mind, the marketing budget will grow and allow the brewery to further expand.

Wrap Up

To wrap up the June Luncheon, AMA Knoxville presented a children’s book that will be donated to the Leaders for Readers program in honor of Dr. White. Also, a special presentation was made in honor of the last luncheon under the current board. On behalf of AMA Knoxville, President-Elect Jessica Gutman gifted current President Erica Coffey with a limited-edition Patricia Nash Designs handbag in gratitude of a fantastic year of leadership. This python-inspired tote benefits the new Amphibian and Reptile Center at Zoo Knoxville.

Photos courtesy of Colby’s Photography

May Luncheon – Frontiers Magazine: The Transformative Journey from Print Publication to Dynamic Digital Stories

May Luncheon – Frontiers Magazine: The Transformative Journey from Print Publication to Dynamic Digital Stories

Jesse Bunch, Marketing Services Coordinator for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, led the audience through the transition that his team made as they transformed Frontiers Magazine from a print publication into an interactive, digital storytelling device.

In 2017, Frontiers Magazine was mailed to the homes of over 18,000 alumni and friends of the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Two weeks before the next issue was scheduled to drop, the published decided to move to a digital platform. To keep the publication on time, Bunch and his team had to learn to adapt to this new storytelling channel.

Aside from formatting to a new platform, Bunch and his team had to rebuild their mailing list from scratch. Moving from a physical address mailing list to an email address list is an enormous undertaking. When the first digital mailing was sent, the list had around 7,000 email addresses. While this seems like a huge hit, from 18,000 to 7,000, the open rates of the new, digital Frontiers Magazine proved that it was still reaching a substantial audience. With an open rate of 24% and a click rate of 19% (well above industry average), it is obvious that the audience of Frontiers Magazine was open to the new change.

This new, digital version of Frontiers Magazine started out as a Flipbook. Users could use their mouse to digitally “flip” the page. While this was more interactive than a typical PDF document, Bunch and his team knew that they could do more.

Dean Baker, Graphic Designer for the University of Tennessee Medical Center, described yet another transition that the Marketing Services team made in order to improve Frontiers Magazine. Adobe Digital Publishing Suite allowed Bunch and his team to create an interactive publication for subscribers. They were able to “flow information into and flow information out” of this more dynamic medium.

While this was another giant leap forward a truly interactive platform for Frontiers Magazine, Bunch and Baker were worried about their readership’s ability to digest a 30 to 40-page document. With this in mind, they decided to make another change to engage their audience. By moving to Adobe Spark, the information is broken down into much more manageable, “bite-sized” pieces of information. They were able to present three to four stories at one time, instead of an entire magazine. This made the information more mobile and social-media friendly.

As all of these changes were implemented, the number of subscribers continued to climb. Currently, the Frontiers Magazine subscription list has around 10,000 emails and maintains an open rate of 20% and a click rate of 28%. While the number of subscribers is still not where it was before the transition to digital, Bunch and his team are better able to track how many people are reading and engaging with this publication.

Bunch believes that their process can be applied to anyone looking to make a switch from traditional print to digital platforms. He recommends genuine, visual storytelling to which your audience can relate. He also reminded the audience that we are in an era where “video is king.” If there is a way for you to tell your brand’s story through video, this is a definite way to get more audience engagement.

To view the new Frontiers Magazine for yourself, visit UTMedicalCenter.org/Frontiers

December Luncheon: Marketing Tennessee to an International Audience

December Luncheon: Marketing Tennessee to an International Audience

Now, more than ever before, international visitors are traveling to Tennessee. In fact, in 2017, Tennessee was the fastest-growing state in the country for international travel.

What’s Bringing Them Here?

Is it the outdoor recreation? The food and drinks? Dollywood? Kevin Triplett, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, says it goes beyond those elements.

“International visitors want authenticity. They want America, and you can’t get much more American than Tennessee,” he said. “They love what we have to offer, and we’re authentic, genuine and real.”

Commissioner Triplett shared these insights and more at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s December luncheon as he detailed how his team markets the state to an international audience. Thanks to their efforts, travelers are coming here for longer and spending more, contributing greatly to the overall economy (a whopping $1.83 billion in state and local sales tax revenue).

Building a State Brand

Maintaining brand consistency is essential to any marketing campaign, and it’s no different for marketing the state of Tennessee to the world. So, the Department of Tourist Development worked to develop a brand that exudes the heart and soul of our state.

“Music is in our DNA in Tennessee,” the commissioner explained to a crowd of Knoxville-area marketers. “Seven genres of music call Tennessee home. No other state can claim that.”

And thus, the “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” brand was born.

Utilizing the Brand

At the luncheon, Commissioner Triplett detailed one of the most recent international marketing campaigns developed by his team.

Last year, British Airways announced the first nonstop flight between Nashville and London, which is expected to significantly boost international tourism as well as business opportunities in Tennessee.

In order to drive UK visitors to Tennessee, the Department of Tourist Development held a month-long marketing campaign using an impressive installation at London’s popular Waterloo train station. “Sights & Sounds of Tennessee” included a giant map of the state and headphones to listen to music recordings and other sounds one can experience only in Tennessee.

Using their mobile devices, visitors also accessed corresponding websites offering 360-degree videos of the Great Smoky Mountains or popular music venues in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, virtually transporting themselves to Tennessee.


The Waterloo installation was just one piece of the larger campaign in support of the “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” brand that included advertising across London. Campaign creative included notable Tennessee music destinations such as Ryman Auditorium, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the historic Tennessee Theatre, promoting the British Airways flight to Nashville and encouraging British travelers to learn more about vacation opportunities across the entire state.

The team at the Department of Tourist Development is constantly developing unique marketing tactics like the Waterloo installation, including concerts promoted entirely through Snapchat and the “Tennessee Music Pathways” tourism development project. However, Commissioner Tripplet said it’s sometimes more than a marketing plan.

“It’s who we are. It’s what we have. It’s why you should come here.”

Photos and videos courtesy of tnvacation.com. 

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