Stories Of IMC On The New Frontier

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It’s just a hazy, fading memory now.

But when I was a young boy a teacher changed my life.

She made me stay after school and learn to read.

Actually, I was already a passable reader.

Mrs. Hoarsley thought I could be better

You see, she believed in me when I didn’t really believe in myself.

As a result, she stayed late when she didn’t have to.

And, as a result, I learned to love books.

Like me, many people owe their lives to teachers.

Some recognize it at the time. For others, it takes years to understand the profound influence they have had on us.

But it’s always difficult to say thank you

So Herf Jones created an integration hub that helped its tribe of students and teachers connect by saying thanks.

The Teacher Shout Out platform made it easy.



Ads, banners and social media brought the tribe together on an online platform. A platform that helped them build a true community of gratitude.



The platform generated stories of teachers who went above and beyond for the sake of their students. Herff Jones then shared their stories with the tribe as a tribute to their dedication.

Each story was connected to an online video. Each video gave teachers a forum to personally express how their students influenced and helped them.

You can see the complete integrated program here.

From integrated hype to integrated help: the new IMC frontier

Herf Jones is just one of the pioneers exploring new ways to be successful in a connected world.

Like others, they are discovering that there is power in creating experiences that help people rather than inundating them with messages.

So let’s see what some other pilgrims are doing out there in the new world of integrated communications.

But first, let’s talk about why this is important

Six monumental shifts have changed the way people communicate and find their way through the world today. Each one gives us the opportunity to change the way we think about connecting with people.  And a chance to reinvent IMC for this new age.

  • From audiences to tribes.
  • From messages to experiences
  • From touch pointing to connecting
  • From internal belching to tribal storytelling
  • From campaigns to movements
  • From selling to serving

You can learn more about how these six shifts are redefining integrated communications here.

Okay, so all that may be great, but how do you make it work. What’s the practical application?

Say hello to the helping platform

The new IMC is enabled by digital platforms that function as interactive integration hubs. These platform hubs connect people in a new, more engaging way than mere messaging.

Most important, like Herf Jones, you can use these platforms to help your tribe. Help them do something that that they want to do for the cause but aren’t able to do by themselves. Something they want to do but can’t do easily. Something that makes a difference.

You two should get together

Interactive platforms have seven unique characteristics that can make them especially powerful integration hubs:

  • They are utilitarian. That is, they make it easy for the user to do something they already want to do.
  • They are experience-based. They turn mere messages into digital experiences.
  • They allow users to experience the meaning and attributes of the tribe.
  • They are supported by earned social media programs that generate connections and dialogue. That feedback is used to refine and expand the platform over time.
  • They generate stories that can be spread by the tribe and by earned media programs. And sometimes with paid campaigns when necessary.
  • They are enduring. They are built to last and expand.
  • They come in many shapes and forms.
  • They embody the tribe’s passion and purpose. As tribe members interact with the platform, it reinforces the values of the tribe. But it also gives them something to do that advances the tribe’s purpose.
  • It helps them do something they want to do and can’t do as well without the platform’s help.

Here are a few examples of how other organizations use these platforms to help their tribe do something important.

American Express

American Express invented Small Business Saturday. They use an integration platform to bring their tribe of small business owners together. And to help them tie into the national promotion with material customized for their stores.


Phoenix Children’s Hospital

This nonprofit created a straightforward platform called Car Seat Helper. By answering four simple questions it enables their tribe of new parents to find exactly the right car seat for their child. The cool thing is this information was already available in print form from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They just turned the information into an easy, accessible experience.



Training Club is a robust integration platform. It brings together Nike’s tribe of female workout enthusiasts. Together, they set goals, measure performance, share routines and compete with other tribe members.



Charmin created a charming little platform called Sit Or Squat. It’s for women with children. The app helps them find clean bathrooms when they are out in public. Put in an address and a map appears showing the location and a cleanliness rating for each. The platform relies on input from its potty tribe members to populate the database. So Sit Or Squat gets better as participation increases.



Chrisopher Baily, Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer of Burberry leads fashion tribes. Today, he’s helping an international tribe of long distance lovers send kisses around the world. This is how kissing someone who’s on the other side of the planet works.


 The Illinois Council Against Hand Gun Violence

This unique social good organization created a unique, physical platform. The Unforgotten brings back young people who were killed by hand guns through a moving art installation. See how it involves the tribe through storytelling while it reaches out to others.



IMC at its new best

Helping platforms come in many shapes and sizes. But they all have one thing in common. They help specific tribes do something that advances the tribe’s common purpose.

And as a result, they generate compelling stories worth sharing.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours.