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Volunteer Spotlight: Anna Wilt

Volunteer Spotlight: Anna Wilt

NAME: Anna Wilt

COMPANY: Knoxville Habitat for Humanity

TITLE: Marketing and Communications Coordinator

WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA: knoxvillehabitat.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram


I’ve been with Knoxville Habitat since April 2018.


I attended my first AMAK luncheon, “Marketing to Millennials,” in the fall of 2016. I learned so much and had such a great time that I knew I wanted to stay involved. When a member of the leadership approached me about volunteering with AMA Knoxville, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity for me to continue learning about marketing while also helping the association.


I write an event recap about the monthly luncheons that are later shared on AMA Knoxville’s social media channels. These event recaps are great for people who had to miss the luncheon or want to look back on what was discussed.


Working at Knoxville Habitat has taught me just how impactful it is to volunteer, in any way you can. It is so important to volunteer in a way that you enjoy, but also in ways that you can gain skills and experience. I enjoy writing, so this is a great way for me to use something I love to give back. It has also been a great way to work on my writing skills.


Volunteering with AMA Knoxville has been a great experience. Not only have I learned so much about the marketing industry through these luncheons, I have also met some great people! The AMA Knoxville luncheons are a fantastic way to meet and network with your peers.


I moved to the Knoxville area about two years ago and I love the area. With Knoxville Habitat, we partner with many local businesses to build houses. It has been great to meet so many amazing people through these partnerships. I love the “volunteer” spirit of East Tennessee!


I love gardening, even though I was not born with a green thumb. I love to cook, especially for a group of friends or family. My husband and I often go on nature walks through Ijams or the Smokies. I also like to play video games on my Xbox – it’s a great stress reliever!


I love to read. My favorite books of all time are Harry Potter, but I have recently started reading more nonfiction. I am a big fan of The Walking Dead, both the TV show and the comics.

October Luncheon: Making the Most of a Milestone

October Luncheon: Making the Most of a Milestone

In an exciting presentation conducted by Lila Honaker, director of marketing and outreach at the Historic Tennessee Theatre, attendees of AMA Knoxville’s October luncheon learned about the specialized marketing campaign, media blitz and brand refresh utilized to celebrate the theatre’s 90th anniversary.

“Anniversaries are like birthdays: occasions to celebrate and to think ahead, usually among friends with whom one shares not only the past but also the future.” – Zbigniew Brzezinski

The Tennessee Theatre’s story begins on October 1, 1928 when it was opened as an escape to life’s troubles. This “otherworldly” movie palace took 11 months and around $1 million dollars to build. After years of touching the lives of locals, the theatre closed for a few years in the early 1970s. In 1981, Jim A. Dick purchased the theatre to save it from becoming a parking lot. After a few years, in 1996, he started a nonprofit and donated the theatre with the mission to “make sure that the Tennessee Theatre is accessible and available to all.” Since then, the theatre has undergone a massive renovation, totaling $28 million dollars, which was funded by various corporations and individuals.

October 1, 1928 The Tennessee Theatre opened its doors

After giving a brief introduction of the Tennessee Theatre’s extensive history and impact on Knoxville, Honaker jumped into a description of the long list of events and celebrations surrounding the theatre’s 90thanniversary. Celebrating such a big milestone presented Honaker’s team with “a once in a decade opportunity … to cement some of our nonprofit messaging.”

“We really wanted to connect with the community,” she explained. “Because part of our mission is being a theatre for everybody, we wanted this 90thanniversary to be able to touch everybody from all walks of life, from all backgrounds … as diverse as we possibly could.”

With Oct. 1 being the theatre’s official anniversary, Honaker and her team created the campaign “90 days for 90 years,” with special events and online messaging celebrating the monumental milestone from October until the end of the year.

As a kick-off for their 90-day celebration, the Tennessee Theatre hosted a speakeasy party. The main idea behind this event was not about one piece of entertainment, but a way to experience the theatre in a way that it had never been experienced before. This monumental cocktail party opened by leading the audience down a side alley and in through a secret entrance. Once they entered, they were greeted with food and beverages, jazz band, swing band and photo booth. This event was focused on celebrating the roaring twenties when the theatre was built and to emphasize the brand message of creating experiences, memories and stories.


The Tennessee Theatre has a full docket of events, merchandise and more – some of which has not even be announced to the public yet. To secure awareness for this celebration, they have created a new logo, secured pole banners throughout the downtown area, created specialty pins for staff and flooded the media with information about their festivities.

Tennessee Theatre’s New Logo

While reflecting on the past 90 years, the Tennessee Theatre staff also used this time to look ahead at what they wanted their brand to become in the future. Using this 90thanniversary as a transitional period, Honaker’s team was able to rebrand the theatre with an emphasis on patron experience.

“Creating an iconic brand that captures the essence of the theatre starts by knowing who we are,” she said.

In order to fully understand and appreciate the patron experience, audience members were polled in the lobby, through email and on boards. These insights helped direct the rebrand.

The Tennessee Theatre unveiled a new logo, redesigned their website and changed out their bar signage, all with an emphasis on a cleaner, more modern look. With the theme of “A New Look for an Icon,” Honaker and her team had to ensure that the rebranding campaign encompassed the tradition of the well-loved building. The new designs incorporate patterns and visuals from the architecture of the theatre itself into their new branding.

“This theatre means a lot to a lot of people and we want to share that.”

Written by: Anna Wilt

AMA Knoxville September Luncheon: Let People Into Your Story!

AMA Knoxville September Luncheon: Let People Into Your Story!

Drew Bedard, the Vice President of Brand/Customer Marketing at Bristol Motor Speedway, led the audience at the AMA Knoxville September Luncheon through his methods of storytelling. His goal was for everyone to “have fun and walk away with something actionable.”

Bedard dives into an explanation of why you should strive for story telling with your brand. The first is the idea of “Noise v Music.” Bedard compares “noise” to a confusing ad that your brain can’t understand. American consumers are bombarded with noise. Your ads should be music that tells your customer your brand story.

Since “clarity is key,” it is imperative that your ad be as clear as possible in order to capture and keep your audience’s attention. Bedard uses Apple as a prime example of this form of clear storytelling. “Stories make so much sense” in the marketing world because American’s are “starving for stories.” People spend $500B a year at the movies. This is evidence that your brand should be capitalizing on this need for stories.

The structure of a story includes some fundamental components that can translate into your brand storytelling. The first of these key features is “the hero.” Each of these heroes has a conflict or problem that they must overcome. In order to overcome this issue, they need a guide to give them a plan and call them to action. Bedard describes this structure using pop culture references, such as Luke Skywalker and Yoda in Star Wars.

In this structure, your customer must be the “hero.” Your product and brand need to be the “guide” that gives them a plan to lead them to action and overcome their problem. For this structure to work, Bedard recommends to “boil it down to how a brain can understand it.” He suggests that even something as simple as a big, red button on your website that says “BUY NOW” can be a solution to your customer’s problem.

When applying this process to Bristol Motor Speedway, Bedard found his “heroes,” or customers, to be blue-colored, Southern individuals looking for an amazing experience. Their problem is that they “lead stressful lives” and need an outlet to relax and “feel a sense of community.” His team then presents their brand as a guide to help their customers overcome their problem. Bristol Motor Speedway is marketed as an exciting, custom experience to share with a like-minded community.

The best way to organize your company’s brand is to come up with The Statement, or “The One Liner.” According to Bedard, this is a critical step in the process to simplifying your brand’s story. To come up with this “One Liner,” you will need to identify “the problem, the solution and the reward.” Bedard’s team worked to come up with a one liner that applied to Bristol Motor Speedway.

“People have stressful lives and want to have fun. We give them a place to escape, engage in community and enjoy sports and entertainment, so they can make memories that will last a lifetime.”

Bedard challenged the audience to go back to their office that afternoon and come up with a statement like this that would apply to their brand. He stressed the necessity of making this statement as clear and concise as possible.

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.

June Luncheon: Push Play on Growth

June Luncheon: Push Play on Growth


With over one billion unique monthly users, YouTube presents a unique marketing opportunity for businesses, and it’s more important than ever to utilize digital ads as more advertising moves towards multimedia formats.

At the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s June luncheon, “Push Play on Growth,” Jonathan Halley and Lucas Cooper of Big Slate Media led the audience through an enthusiastic presentation covering all things YouTube.

Big Slate Media is a Knoxville-based content creation company. Since its creation three years ago, they have grown to advise their clients on a variety of topics, such as video marketing, content and strategy.

The digital age has given advertisers the unprecedented opportunity to “track exactly how far [their] dollar amount is going” using this video platform. More specifically, YouTube allows businesses to track the effectiveness of their ad and content campaigns through a variety of tools.

Halley and Cooper also pointed out the distinctions between YouTube and other social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat present a “finite” option for video content. With YouTube, marketers have “the opportunity for that content to live forever.”

Marketers can organically boost their SEO ranking simply by “having a video with the keywords you want to be found with and tagging them correctly.” YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, which is owned by the largest search engine, Google. By uploading and tagging videos, Google AdWords is able to crawl and index your content. This, in turn, makes it easier for customers to learn more about your business.

Spending advertising dollars on YouTube can be a quick and easy way to see results. As a caveat, Cooper pointed out that non-skippable ads can be an annoying inconvenience to consumers. However, they can also be a “wonderful tool for advertisers if you need more time to tell your story.”

Skippable ads have proven to be the most popular form of YouTube ads. These ads are appealing to advertisers for several reasons. They are low-risk, versatile and visible to a wide audience. This method encompasses the entire Google search and YouTube search networks.

The top three data points to measure while analyzing your performance metrics are views, view rate and cost per view. View rate is the number of views and engagements on your ad, divided by the number of times your ad was shown.

As all marketers know, determining your audience is the first step you should take when making an advertisement. This is especially true for YouTube and Google AdWords. According to Halley and Cooper, you should narrow down your audience by demographics, interests and video remarketing. Video remarketing includes people that are “already engaged in your brand,” whether that means they have already watched one of your videos or bought your product.

According to Big Slate Media, the secret to successful content marketing can be found by following these five easy steps:

  1. Practice filming yourself until you know what works for you and your audience.
  2. Research is an important aspect to developing meaningful content. Cooper suggests spending ten minutes a week analyzing competitor YouTube channels.
  3. Brainstorm with your team, and write down your ideas.
  4. Planning is essential to achieving a great YouTube campaign, even if it is just an hour a month.
  5. Lastly, and most importantly, just do it! Challenge yourself to make “consistent, relatable content” that will engage your audience.

Want to learn more? Check out this blog post from Big Slate Media.

AMA Knoxville Presents 30th Annual Honors Celebrating Alan Carmichael

AMA Knoxville Presents 30th Annual Honors Celebrating Alan Carmichael

The American Marketing Association Knoxville (AMA Knoxville) held its 30th Annual Honors Ceremony on Tuesday, May 15 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Historic Southern Railway Station. Alan Carmichael, president and chief operating officer for Moxley Carmichael, was recognized as AMA Knoxville’s 2018 Outstanding Marketing Professional.

Alan Carmichael brings more than 30 years of real-world experience to help clients communicate effectively in his role as president of Moxley Carmichael. From a love of literature and writing, he crafted careers first in journalism and then public relations. The ability to create and execute up-to-date communications strategies is based on firsthand experience in advising clients on proactive public relations programs, as well as preparing for and managing crises.

The Outstanding Marketing Professional is a lifetime achievement award presented to an individual who has made meaningful and innovative contributions to the community and in the field of marketing. Past recipients include Jeff Lee, Jim Clayton, James A. Haslam, II, Townes Lavidge Osborn and Pat Summitt.

Attendees enjoyed dinner and drinks as AMA Knoxville celebrated Alan Carmichael, recognized this past year’s AMA marketing scholarship recipients and honored AMA Knoxville’s chapter leaders with the Locander Award, Volunteer of the Year Award and STAR Award. Board members recognized this year included:

In addition to honoring an outstanding professional and AMA Knoxville’s chapter leaders, the annual Honors event raises funds to provide scholarships for exceptional students majoring in marketing at the University of Tennessee. This program, the Eagle Endowment, has provided over $120,000 in scholarship money in an effort to preserve and grow the marketing industry.

“The AMA Knoxville board of directors is so happy to honor Alan Carmichael as this year’s Outstanding Marketing Professional,” said Carol Kelly, AMA Knoxville president. “His longstanding dedication to this community and his incredible work in the marketing and communications industry makes him so deserving of this prestigious honor.”




As an employer, should you find job applicants on social media? Should you accept friend requests from current employees? How should you handle online and physical harassment claims from employees?

Chris McCarty, attorney at Lewis Thomason, covered these topics and more during a lively, open discussion at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s April luncheon, titled: “From Friending to Firing: Social Media’s Impact on Employment.”

When searching for job applicants or current employees on social media, McCarty said there are pros, cons and legalities to consider.

“You can find out things you could never ask in an interview, including their age or family status,” he said. “You can also see their social life habits to determine how responsible they are. Anything that is publicly posted is fair game.”

However, searching for an applicant’s social media accounts may also cause negative bias against them. For example, if a job candidate is pregnant and posts that information on social media, an employer may be less likely to hire them given insurance costs and future time off.

When accepting friend requests from employees, McCarty said employers should consider their industry and office culture, and that there are always risks involved. He also informed attendees that as an employer it is illegal in the state of Tennessee to force employees to be friends with you on Facebook.

In regard to employment and social media endorsements, McCarty explained the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) endorsement guidelines.

“You can’t have a material connection to what you’re endorsing without disclosing the connection in a clear and conspicuous way,” he said. “Material connections include employment.”

This means employees endorsing their company’s products or services on social media must also disclose that they are employed there. This includes a public employment listing on Facebook or mentioning it in a Twitter or Instagram bio.

He cited an incident in 2017 in which the FTC sent out more than 90 letters to celebrities, athletes and other influencers reminding them to clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.

“It’s the same if you work for a hotel and post on Facebook, ‘this the best hotel ever, you should stay here,’” McCarty said. “You must disclose that you work for the hotel because you have a material connection. It’s the law.”

He also said employers must be cognizant of employees’ rights to express themselves online, especially about working conditions.

“Employees are not forbidden from talking publicly about working conditions on social media,” McCarty explained. “This includes pay, benefits, break times and OSHA concerns.”

This protection falls under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which states, “Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees, and to refrain from such activity. It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.”

Lastly, McCarty covered a popular topic in today’s society: harassment in the workplace. He said to be aware that proper workplace boundaries apply offline and online.

He said, “If someone is uncomfortable in a workplace setting because of something happening online, it cannot be ignored by the company.”

To learn more about these topics, visit FTC.gov or EEOC.gov.

AMA Knoxville Member Spotlight: Annie LaLonde

AMA Knoxville Member Spotlight: Annie LaLonde

NAME: Annie LaLonde

COMPANY: Shoney’s of Knoxville, Inc.

TITLE: Marketing & Advertising Director

WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA: www.shoneysknox.com, Facebook, Twitter


AMA provides a forum for learning and meeting other marketing professionals in the community. We get so caught up in our everyday tasks that we often forget the world is changing around us, and we need to keep learning!


20+ years


Sharing ideas with other marketing professionals is so valuable to me. During networking events we have helped each other brainstorm ideas to solve issues in our organizations. I also have taken several AMA webinars that have been very helpful to me and Shoney’s.


Serve guests great food in a comfortable setting with friendly service. Shoney’s is known for the best Fresh Food Bar, Breakfast Bar and for our signature desserts, Strawberry Pie and Hot Fudge Cake!


All of our guests are valuable to Shoney’s, however, we love introducing our Fresh Food Bar to new generations of guests.


Shoney’s has a stellar reputation for providing good food at a great value, that’s vitally important. However, I’m very proud of the ongoing community support that Shoney’s has provided to countless organizations over the past 55 years. While Shoney’s works rather quietly on many community events, we were truly honored to receive the 2017 Knoxville Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Impact Award, recognizing our long-term community impact over the years.


11 years


I describe Knoxville as a big “small-town”. It’s big enough to have lots of opportunity, but small enough that one can get to know people in business and marketing. It’s a friendly place to work and live.


Depends on the season – waterskiing/boating and snow skiing! I’m a passionate Green Bay Packers fan!


I love to read, mostly fiction. I am a die-hard “Survivor” fan!

Next time you’re at an AMA Knoxville event, be sure to chat with Annie about what she’s reading!

March Luncheon: Integrating Sales & Marketing

March Luncheon: Integrating Sales & Marketing


On March 14, AMA Knoxville hosted its March Luncheon in Knoxville’s Old City at the Alliance for Better Nonprofits in the Regas Building. Brandon Bruce, co-founder of Cirrus Insight, shared his experiences and observations since his business vision came to life six years ago. Recently named no. 41 on Inc. 500’s fastest-growing companies, Cirrus Insight works to seamlessly integrate sales and marketing.

Bruce began his presentation by briefly explaining what the software company offers. Cirrus Insight is a browser extension for Gmail and Outlook and was the first software of its kind. It features email templates and tracking, drip campaigns, reminders, meeting scheduling, attachment tracking and salesforce integration.


After admitting that he believed the company would only last about two years, Bruce shared that roughly 250,000 people are now utilizing this time-saving email software. In an era when social media was anticipated to end the use of email, he explained that “email still dominates the internet,” correctly – and humorously – pointing out that to open any social media account, you must have an email address.

Through years of marketing and selling their own product, the team at Cirrus Insight has discovered what works best for email campaigns. Bruce told the audience that for marketing emails, an email blast should be more generic with graphics and a flashy designs. On the other hand, sales emails should be short, sweet and completely text.

He has found that if you use the wrong format for your purpose, your open rates will be drastically lower, and it will be harder for your emails to stand out in an inbox. Knowing your audience and how to reach them makes a drastic difference in terms of email effectiveness.

He also emphasized the necessity of “short emails from real people” in sales. These emails gain much more attention than computer-generated emails and drip campaigns. Although these systems are decent at pattern-recognition, Bruce joked that “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is long on artificial and short on intelligence.” Because of this, a human touch still prevails in the world of sales.

Although the majority of its customers are in sales, there is an upward trend of marketers utilizing Cirrus Insight for the first time in six years –  showing that Bruce and his team are meeting their goal of bridging the gap between sales and marketing.

Want to learn more? Check out this blog post from Cirrus Insight – “What to Include & Avoid in Sales Emails.” 

February Program: Branding the Beer Business

February Program: Branding the Beer Business


February’s AMA Knoxville meeting took place after hours at Hexagon Brewing Company on Feb. 21, 2018. With beer in hand, Co-owner Matt McMillan walked the audience through his experiences of starting the brewery with his business partner, Stephen Apking.

The Hexagon Story

The business started out with the name Underground, which came from Stephen’s method of brewing the beer under his porch. He quickly ran into the issue of “Underground” already being used by another brewing company.

Rather than fight to keep the name, Stephen and Matt decided to move on and find something more unique to their story. Through the process of trial and error, the two came up with the name “Hexagon,” which has many interesting ties to the duo.

Stephen was an avid beekeeper, which of course includes the hexagonal honey comb structure. Also, while looking through some of his grandfather’s old bamboo fly rods, Stephen came across an autographed book from the maker of the rods. Stephen came across a passage about how the rods were constructed using a hexagonal structure. He took this as a sign from his grandfather, and the name Hexagon was chosen.

The Hexagon Mission & Brand

Hexagon strives to focus on local partnerships. This has led them to partner with many local chefs, restaurants and foods trucks. He explained that ties between food and beer are “ever more prevalent, especially with the demographics that we are selling in.”

People want both great food and great beer. In order to cater to its market, Hexagon is working on building a small kitchen on site to provide food to patrons, in addition to the free popcorn that is already offered.

Hexagon differentiates its brand by focusing on quality and unique flavors. Matt explained their success in the craft beer business by saying, “We’re excited to be alive and making great beer.”

He is not only involved in Hexagon’s business, he is also on his fifth year of coordinating the Knoxville Brew Fest. He is also heavily active in the Knoxville Area Brewer’s Association (KABA). This group, which started in 2015, is a collection of breweries, retailers and individuals in the industry. This group helps to “define the landscape of the craft beer culture in Knoxville.”

In order to better promote the industry and “cater to locals and tourists alike,” KABA produced a map of all breweries in Knoxville in partnership with Visit Knoxville, known as the Knoxville Ale Trail. Matt explained this as a great way for Hexagon and other breweries to market themselves in the area.

Knoxville’s craft beer culture has grown from being well under the average number of breweries three years ago to 20 breweries today. Matt stressed the benefits of the craft beer industry to the local economy. By catering to their demographics and working in collaboration with other local breweries, they are able to grow the craft beer culture in Knoxville while also growing the local economy.

The AMA Knoxville event concluded with a tour of Hexagon’s impressive brewing facility.

AMA Knoxville hosted its February Program at Hexagon Brewing Co. The event concluded with an exclusive tour of its impressive brewing facility.

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