Four (and-a-half) years later…. *Spongebob voice*

I always knew I would come to UNCW. Heck, the only application I completed was to UNCW (looking back, that was not a good idea). And to be honest, I didn’t have a strong reason to come here. However, four-and-a-half years later, I know I was supposed to be here.


That feeling was reassured when I entered the Communication Studies Major. The major facilitated opportunities for me to grow and learn. I tried to make the most of these opportunities because I know the experience I gained from them will pay-off later. Being able to apply my knowledge in classes is something I will not take for granted.

It hasn’t really hit me yet that I will be leaving friends, classmates and professors that I’ve built strong relationships with. And that will be the hardest part. But the things I’ve learned from them will stay with me forever.

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Looking forward, I know the skills I’ve obtained at UNCW and the COM major will propel me to where I want to be. For this, I am forever grateful.

Go do great things, class of 2015!

Oh, and happy birthday to me!

– Patrick

Intern Spotlight: HR in Communication Studies

HR-ImageThe way Human Resources ties IMC into their organization is rather unique. In Human Resources, the objective is not to sell the organization’s brand, but instead to help each individual in an organization focus on their personal branding. Individuals can continuously improve their communication skills and concurrently be efficient in their work together.

Julia George is a senior at UNCW, graduating in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. During the months of May-August 2015, she completed a Human Resources internship through the Communication Studies Department.

Interviewer: What were the steps you took when applying for an internship through the Communication Studies Department?

Julia: During the Summer 2015 semester, I applied through the Communication Studies Internship Program for a position in Human Resources. This was incidental to my career, given my past and present course load made it clear my future was in this field. A Communication Studies internship entails researching a desired position and agency, interviewing with the targeted agency and supervisor, and approving this internship through Dr. Bulger- the faculty member in charge. My internship through the Communication Studies Department enabled me to complete a three-credit course, completing the correct amount of hours at the desired agency.

Interviewer: What were your duties as an intern?

Julia: The internship gave me glimpses into the everyday tasks of the Human Resources. During my time at UNCW’s Human Resources Department, I practiced co-facilitating retreats, managing social media, and marketing aspects of HR. After I completed my internship with the Human Resources Department, I was offered a part-time job. The experience I gained through the internship program and courses at UNCW, I am now able to practice those skills as a part-time employee at Human Resources.

Julia came across the Human Resources internship during a Communication Studies course, taught by Dr. Brunson. The Intercultural Dialogue course required students to complete an out-of-class facilitation. Molly Nece, the Professional Development Coordinator in HR at UNCW spoke to Julia’s class about facilitation. Julia used her interpersonal skills and networking capabilities to learn about and purse the HR internship, through Molly Nece.

535934_410333185791421_6763646625442744694_nJulia’s daily tasks as a staff member in Human Resources include: development of job aids for facilitations, assistance with retreats, attendance of all meetings, research and collection of data, and marketing HR through social media channels. She manages the social media channels for the Employee Training and Professional Development program called Dare to Learn Academy. This task correlates to the Professional Development Program and markets the five important factors for strengthening one’s personal brand – serving, leading, innovating, being resourceful, and growing. This program focuses on helping the faculty and administration across campus tap into their strengths and weaknesses, through group practices and self-evaluations, for a better understanding of how to interact in the office. The five factors of Dare to Learn Academy are marketed through Facebook and the Dare to Learn catalogue.

Interviewer: What have you learned as an employee vs. an intern?

Julia: When you are an intern, you are at a transitional phase from applying what you’ve learned at UNCW to a professional workplace. You start with smaller tasks, which help you learn how important every detail is in projects. It is okay if you make a mistake, your supervisors understand you are in a learning process. As an employee, you are trained for the position; deadlines are more serious and making mistakes are not an option. Having the practice from an internship prepares you for this mindset and decreases the stress of whether you are completing a project correctly or incorrectly.

10479958_10153111690567474_8095338665732746440_nThe interview with Julia clearly shows the benefits and advantages from completing an internship during a college career. Not only is there personal growth and development, there is a clear correlation to success in future career endeavors. The opportunity to develop one’s personal brand and create network connections with professionals in the desired field, is invaluable.

To find more information about internships visit: Career Center

-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs

Communication Studies At Work

College students are told time and time again just how important it is to have an internship while in college. UNCW student Aki Suzuki, a senior Communication Studies major, offered to speak with us about her Marketing internship at Live Oak Bank, a Small Business Association lender  here in Wilmington, NC.

liveoakbankInterviewer: What are your daily tasks?

Aki: Videography: Helping set up shoots with lighting and camera equipment, taking photos, organizing footage, editing photos and videos, and creating simple title graphics.

Interviewer: What do you want to gain from this experience?

Aki: I hope to gain professional videography skills and the ability to thrive and adapt to an adult work environment. Finally I hope to gain the knowledge to competently function as part of an organization/ corporations marketing team to enhance a brand and use my creative resources to continue advancing it.

Interviewer:  What coursework is relevant to your internship?

Aki: As I am interning in the marketing department and helping create promotional materials for Live Oak, the IMC related classes are relevant to my experience. Integrated Marketing theories, as well as course projects and discussions have prepared me to understand how the bank approaches attracting borrowers to each of its verticals. The videography department is responsible for video and photography related products. Videography centered courses like COM 380 have also been instrumental to my understanding of cameras, the elements of lighting and also editing techniques.

Internships are an excellent way for students to engage in applied learning but also a way to get their brand out into the real world. Aki has learned the importance of a consistent brand identity, especially when looking for jobs and internships. Aki demonstrated this during our interview.

akisuzuki_000Interviewer: What can you offer to Live Oak Bank?

Aki: I can offer Live Oak Bank a willing and open mind. Although I do not possess any outstanding skills, as a young and determined student I am engaged in learning and committed to contributing in any way that I can. My youth allows me to maintain a fresh perspective and enthusiastic attitude for any opportunities they allow me.

Interviewer: How does your brand as a Communication Studies major compare with other interns at Live Oak?

Aki: I find that I fit well into my niche in the marketing department because Communication Studies deals overwhelmingly with how to effectively incorporate messages being sent  through various channels which is precisely what any company’s marketing department hopes to cover.  I do find myself at a slight disadvantage when it comes to understanding the financial ins and outs of the bank; but like any communication studies major I am well versed in being an assertive researcher and curious verbal investigator to understand anything I do not immediately understand.

Aside from some unnecessary modesty, Aki has aligned the stories she communicates about herself, the way she sees herself and reality so closely that there are minimal discrepancies. If you have the opportunity to work with Aki, you would find this statement proves true. Branding is not just for businesses anymore. Every communication you put out into the world will contribute to your personal brand and when your band is as consistent as Aki’s it becomes a holophrasm, expressing your brand in a single nucleus. Aki has achieved such a level of brand coherence that her name now acts as a holophrasm.

What strategies do you use when defining your personal brand?

What are some examples you can share about personal brand coherence?

– Alexis Trimnal, Carey Shetterley, June Wilkinson, and Carey Poniewaz

-Interviewee: Aki Suzuki

Cucalorus: How to Brand an Independent Film Festival

By Daniel Dawson

Cucalorus is Wilmywood’s premiere quirky film festival, showcasing independent films from local, national and international artists. Film connoisseurs sporting chunky glasses, artsy students in their thrift-store best and less interesting folk like you and I file into Thalian Hall (or one of the many other venues), settle down and wait for the lights to dim. This November will be the 21st year this little slice of art and culture draws people to downtown Wilmington.

I could barely convince people to keep coming after my twelfth birthday party, so how does Cucalorus garner a big crowd each consecutive year? A cohesive brand narrative, that’s how. And Cucalorus’ brand narrative is nothing short of weird—but in the good way. Let’s explore what makes Cucalorus cool.

  1. It’s in the copy

While none of these factors are ranked in any specific order of importance, I am a word person and always like to read and evaluate the voice of an organization. Many organizations forget about this, not capitalizing its subtle importance. Bad organizations.

Cucalorus, on the other hand, has got its copy down pat. The copy, whether it’s online, in print or broadcasted on the radio, is how an organization communicates not only its news or events, but its personality, its voice and its image.  Here’s a snippet of copy from Cucalorus’ donation page on their website:

“Hey Cucalorians!!! Do you need to get rid of unwanted cash? Make a donation and we’ll send you a tax deduction letter to send your fuzzy little friends at the IRS (they don’t need your money and clearly don’t know what to do with it!!). We do know what to do with it – we’re already plotting and scheming for the 21st annual Cucalorus Film Festival – taking place November 11-15, 2015!!! Help us fund the dreams and visions of artists all over the world by making a donation today.
Dreaming of eggnog omelettes!
The Cucalorus Film Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit and your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.”


On first glance this might sound unprofessional and not the voice an organization would want to convey. The context, though, is important. Cucalorus’ audience is mostly the aforementioned artists, hipsters and independent film connoisseurs and Cucalorians. These types of people generally like funny, creative and quirky things (like Cucalorus). These types of people also tend to be skeptical of the IRS—not to mention the state cutting NC’s film incentive last year.  So yes, it might be OK for Cucalorus to be a bit irreverent, and it’s their creative risk.

  1. Digital presence, dude

If your business doesn’t have some sort of online presence (an email address counts), I would like you to write to me immediately by carrier pigeon and explain how you’re still surviving. An online presence is increasingly important each year, and now just having a website and Facebook isn’t cutting it. Brand cohesion across appropriate social media networks and inter-connectivity between them is vital.

Cucalorus not only has a website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram but their own blog and—drum roll—they are all updated. Bravo, Cucalorus. Content creation and audience engagement are essential to a successful IMC strategy.

  1. Creepily consistent image

This one is tandem with the digital presence. IMC consists of advertising, public relations, marketing and every other single communication an organization can perform with its publics. Consistency in corporate communication allows the organization and its audiences to construct a narrative and image of the brand. This is what people can relate to. This is how we can see the quirkiness, irreverence and artsy personality of Cucalorus as if it were that weird kid in your English class who would always have some snappy reference to an obscure book even your professor hadn’t read. But less annoying.

Take a look at Cucalorus’ official website:

Cucalorus Home Page - Wilmington, NC

Ooh, warm fall colors. Where’s my PSL?!

The color scheme and design is consistent. The font-faces, graphics and little cartoon dudes are consistent. There’s well-organized navigation and that copy I was talking about earlier. The social media pages follow suit. There’s an article on this if you’re into academic papers. Basically, the author, Simon Torp from Odense University in Denmark, says that as an organization your communication through all channels must be consistent, accessible and in line with your self-image, public image and meta-image for people to take you seriously.

  1. Zany staff workers

When I said all channels of communication, I meant all of them. Even the staff workers and volunteers need to be carefully selected and even briefed on an organization’s code of conduct. One time I went to a screening of a Cucalorus film at Thalian Hall and, not to get into too much detail, I, with the rest of the audience, was sternly asked by staff to partake in a ritual involving whipped cream, button pins and our tongues. Was I offended? No, but I could have been if I had been misguided by thinking Cucalorus was actually a convention for neo-Puritans. Because their self-branding and self-image don’t suggest that, I could expect something out of the ordinary. It’s the risk that Cucalorus takes to maintain its image and appeal to its target audience.

  1. High-quality product

When it comes down to it, a business or organization is only as good as its product. Silly brand narrative and image aside, Cucalorus does a good job at what it does. It recruits and selects excellent film talent from around the world and showcases it in quality and entertaining venues. This is where word-of-mouth comes into play. Word-of-mouth marketing or WOM is an organic and invaluable means of public relations, advertising and marketing. Have you ever read a positive news story about an organization you love? Or has a good friend of yours recommended a product or service they favor? These are examples of WOM that can make or break an organization depending on whether they are in favor or against it.  Maintaining the balance between brand narrative, professionalism and good business sense is how an organization thrives. While Cucalorus does an outstanding job of its own branding and controlled media, its reputation for quality and intrigue reign in filmmakers and spectators every year.

I am no way affiliated with the Cucalorus film festival professionally, nor do I represent it. I recognize good IMC in organizations and talk about it here. But, if you are tired of what the local theaters are playing, check out a showing of something interesting between November 11 and 15 downtown at Cucalorus.

Behind the Scenes in Wilmington, NC

For the past 30 years while the film industry was taking root in Wilmington, NC a brand was also growing. Wilmington became “Wilmywood.” With a well established tie to the film industry where does this brand identity go now that major productions like “Under The Dome” are heading farther south to Atlanta? Is Wilmington still “Hollywood East?” The NC Department of Revenue reported 10,500 film industry jobs in 2011. The UNCW Film Studies webpage promotes the department as a vital link to a “thriving film production center.” Students are often excited to see UNCW featured in these movies and shows, with hits like ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘One Tree Hill’ shooting scenes on campus. UNCW student Jackie L. says, “I took the opportunity to be an extra in Nicholas Sparks film at Dockside Bar & Restaurant because this was an easy way for me to break into the industry and help gain some exposure.” Incoming students, and industry professionals aren’t the only ones drawn to this exposure. Wilmington tourists are promised not only sandy beaches but film location walking tours from The North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board. It’s undeniable that Wilmington’s film industry has been at the forefront of establishing the city’s brand equity, attracting loyalty and awareness through the implications of its name branding “Hollywood East.” Will “Hollywood East”  still be an accurate picture of the Wilmington brand?


When North Carolina cut film industry tax incentives in half in 2014, production companies moved productions but the studio they used is still here. EUE/Screen Gems Studio is the local film industry power player having provided an operational base for over 400 film and television productions since 1985, and the 50 acre soundstage is still in business. With the film industry starting to move out of Wilmington while a major studio complex remains this puts Wilmington and its brand in an interesting situation. Is it ethical to keep advertising Wilmington as “Hollywood East?” Or should Wilmington and the UNCW community take this opportunity to revisit their dominant selling point and establish a new standard for connecting the film industry with their brands?


The democratic ethical approach put emphasis on the habit of justice which calls for factual accuracy, and the habit of search which supports openness to new ideas. According to this, the city cannot market itself as Hollywood East, and let potential students and new residents believe that they will spot Robert Downey Jr. on the street or will sit down across from Jennifer Aniston Front Street Brewery. The reality is that the movie industry is largely moving out. We can still talk about the film that has happened in Wilmington and market that for all its worth, but we should be factual about the changes occurring.Wilmington and UNCW should open up to new branding possibilities and creating a new way to market themselves without needing to rely on “Hollywood East.”

We know that the film incentives have brought controversy among Wilmington citizens. What are your opinions on Wilmington’s next step should be?
-Aki Suzuki, Lexie Trimnal, Carey Shetterley, June Wilkinson, Carey Poniewaz

A.C.E. – Your Source for Campus Entertainment

Please nod your head if you have ever taken another route to class pretending to be on your cell phone or completely ignoring someone who was trying to give you an event flyer. If you give your computer screen a nod, we applaud you.  However, if you are like 99% of the student population at UNCW and nodded your head–we understand.

There are over 250 student organizations vying for our attention, membership and time so how do we pick what to attend? Our choices depend on how, or if, we hear about the event and how creative the marketing is. The Association for Campus Entertainment is the university’s student programming board Did you enjoy Hoddie Allen last year? That was ACE. What about when Maci Bookout from Teen Mom was here in the spring? That was ACE too.

In the midst of everything college kids have going on, ACE provides an outlet for free entrainment. But just like every other student organization, they have to compete for your time as well. Integrated Marketing Communication, IMC,  allows us to diversify the means by which we achieve our marketing goals. A public relations campaign? Check. Social media presence? Also check. Cool and engaging advertising? Also IMC.

ACE does this through an array of promotional tools each year, the first being through giveaways what college student doesn’t like free things? This year ACE gave phone wallets, Croakies, car USB adapters and staplers. This may seem like a mishmash of items but each one served a purpose: to be seen and get the ACE name known. Whether it is letting a classmate use the ACE braded stapler, or paying for food in Wag as you pull your OneCard out of your ACE branded phone wallet, ACE is marketing their brand. The goal is to increase the number of times a student sees a brand and how they associate it—hopefully in a positive light.


There is more to promotions than simply getting a name out; ACE must also promote their events. There are the standard campus marketing methods such as banner, chalking and flyers, but in order to infiltrate the calendars of college students, you must take efforts farther. ACE is a brand that thrives on creative promotions, whether this be acting out a scene from an upcoming movie in the campus theatre or handing out paint brushes across campus for a Cheerwine and Design event. There is always something being passed out.

A successful marketing campaign goes beyond creating and implementing the campaign. The ultimate goal of IMC, is to not only change one’s beliefs, but to change his or her actions. Whether this be successfully convincing students to change their plans and attend an event or sign up for ACE, we want them to act on our suggestions. So how do you think ACE stacks up, do you hear about their events through traditional means of advertising or through creative promotions across campus? Furthermore – how do you prefer to be wooed into coming to an organization’s event or do you organically decide to attend? Let us hear your thoughts and comments blow!

-Amanda, Daniel, Kendall, Meleah and Luke

Undefeated since 1947

Hearing the roar of fans painted in teal, navy blue and gold on Saturday afternoons brings excitement to our bones. One can only wonder why UNCW lacks the school spirit that a collegiate football program can provide. If a single sport unifies the student body, then why not take immediate action?

According to ESPN, more than 600 universities contain collegiate football, 32 teams are located in North Carolina. So, why doesn’t UNC Wilmington have a football program? Location, finances, and UNCW’s brand image can all contribute to that fact.

The SeahawkUNCW’s newspaper states, a university requires roughly $50 million dollars to start a collegiate football program. Raising the tuition at UNCW would be one option if a collegiate football program were desired. A charity fund needs to be set up, but the amount donated is only 1/6th of the money UNCW receives annually. 


Size is a factor on whether a university contains a collegiate football program; Coastal Carolina located in Conway, South Carolina recently added a collegiate football program and revamped their stadium in 2003. Compared to UNCW, Coastal Carolina has similar faculty/staff to student ratio, location (distance to local beaches and cities), and similar student enrollment. Bottom line, the main difference between UNCW and CCU- school spirit. Does a university with a collegiate football program contain greater school spirit? According to USA Todayschool spirit within the student body is greater at a university that contains collegiate football. This sport helps to unify the student body unlike any other collegiate programs at universities.


But, does a football program align with UNCW’s brand image? We believe the answer to that question would be no. UNCW encompasses a laid-back, chill, and relaxed atmosphere. Our image is centered around the hype of Wrightsville Beach, rather than tailgating football games. UNCW’s image is reflected to its audiences as a stress-free university and town, and the idea of joining a mellow student body attracts prospective students. Part of what facilitates UNCW’s relaxed and personable image, is the small class sizes and opportunities for hands-on applied learning. If the university shifted its focus from academics to athletics, the financial strain would likely cause a greater faculty/staff to student ratio. This would affect UNCW’s brand image, as the key ingredient that helps build the brand would not be as strong. Are we willing to give up one of the aspects that differentiates UNCW from its competitors? A part of UNCW that provides an academic advantage to our students for the addition of a collegiate football program, making UNCW similar to other North Carolina universities?

All factors aside, the real question lies with whether students desire a collegiate football program. A good researcher does their homework and we spoke to 10 students to get to the bottom of this matter. A large chunk of the student body opposed having a football team, citing it changed UNCW’s brand image. Of the students surveyed, 65% supported a team, 25% opposed, and 10% was neutral. We did find those who supported a UNCW football program were very passionate. Those students felt football would bring the student populace together. The main sticking points are location and money. However, all obstacles can be reduced if the student population united their efforts. As a UNCW student, is a collegiate football program worth the money? Are you willing to change UNCW’s brand image, evolving UNCW into something more?

-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs