Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Tips for Finding the Ideal Digital Marketing Internship

Digital Marketing Internships Can Lead to Full Time Employment

In a prior  blog post I wrote about how companies can hire an intern for Digital Marketing.  Equally important as a topic is how to find a good Digital Marketing Internship.  Internships can be critical to future employment in the digital field. Many students take full time employment with their internship company as the intern-to-hire model takes hold.  At +Aurora University we require an internship for the Marketing Major. Here are the top three tips that I can give based on years of watching students and coaching them to develop their internship plans and successfully parlay internships into jobs.:


Digital Marketing, Internships
BuiltInChicago is One Site Listing Digital Marketing Jobs/Internships

1) Start early: Internships that provide the type of experience you want might require some extra looking.  I would start in the Spring for the Following Fall and the Fall for the Spring/Summer.  At AU we require an internship and there is also paperwork that needs to be filed.

2) Fish Where the Fish Are:  Most students in past years have taken internships in search, social media, email and website/design usability. I also notice employers wanting some facility with excel or other familiarity with a program to help analyze data such as SPSS or Google Analytics. Look at the job descriptions of several internships and make sure you develop popular skills before you apply.

3) Take Advantage of Resources: Your local University will have a job/career site.  Many of us in the area has noticed Indeed.com has a lot of jobs in the digital area.  BuiltInChicago.org highlights jobs for tech companies in Chicago.  According to their list of Top 100 Digital Companies in Chicago, there are 1500 plus digital companies in the area,  employing 40,000 plus people. The web site regularly posts marketing positions.  Fill out your profile completely in LinkedIn to receive relevant job postings.  Stay active on social media to keep up-to-date on local job trends.

These are just a few hints for finding a meaningful internship in the digital area.  Of course, most jobs are not posted and found by networking.  You should contact your professor and those working in the area to see if they can point you in the right direction.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Five Steps to Hiring a Great Summer Intern

How to hire the perfect intern


I am a Professor of Marketing at +Aurora University  teaching in our Digital Marketing Minor and all of our Marketing students must have an internship to graduate.  I get a lot of requests from people in industry looking to hire interns this time of year.  Of course, we want to match our students to a great internship and the companies want to have a good experience too. Therefore, I am offering these simple tips for hiring a great summer intern.

summer interns

Steps to Success


1)  Start early.  Unlike Grammar and High School, most University terms end in late April, early May.  I receive many requests in June for someone to hire 'for the summer,' by which time most of our students are gone and have summer employment.  The most sought-after students looking for summer internships will be gone by Spring Break, which is typically sometime in March.  For a Fall Internship, start looking now.  For January or Summer, start in the Fall.

2) Understand the academic schedule.  Make sure you understand the academic schedule at the Universities you are interested in hiring from and, again, get started early enough.  For internships for academic credit, students will want something for the Fall, Spring or Summer.  Most students won't want to start a new job toward the end of the semester if you want them to start in March and the paperwork won't be able to get done properly.    Think of start times as starting in August/September, January or May/June. You may have to adjust your expectations of start date to find the best intern, even though you may have a pressing project.

3) Be clear in your description/objectives.   Spend time on your job description and objectives of the position.  Don't just send an email saying "I want to hire an intern; can you send some over?"  Most students want to know what skills are required to perform the job and what skills will be develped, what the hours are, rate of pay, location, if there is any flexibility for telecommuting, etc.

4) Don't rely on professors to be job screeners for you. Professors are teaching classes and are close to the students but they don't know your company and what might be the best fit.  Professors won't also know EVERY student at the University, just those in their classes.

At most places, Equal Opportunity extends to recruiting and internships and jobs must be posted to all students.  At Aurora University, we have a listserv that reaches 200 plus graduates and current students.  Like most Universities, we also have a careers job site where internships and full-time jobs can be listed. Students apply online and all students at the University have access.

5) Pay your interns.  While it is true your job might provide a 'great experience' for someone, there are other companies willing to pay their interns.  These firms recognize that the intern is providing a valuable experience.  Most students today face high costs of education and rely on their work outside of the classroom to get them through the University experience.  Many students will have several offers and will most likely gravitate toward paid experiences.

If you follow this simple advice I am sure you will find the 'perfect' intern for your firm!  Good luck and thanks for providing this valuable experience to our students.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

5 Steps to Living a Recommendable Life

Is Your Life Recommendable?

Emily Bader, EVP +Z√≥calo Group presented the keynote address focused on social media marketing and personal branding at the 14th annual Okner Symposium Friday, February 21 at Loyola University, Chicago, IL.  The event is targeted for students interested in direct and digital marketing and sponsored by the Educational Foundation of the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, CADMEF and a generous gift from Seymour "Sy" Okner and his family.  Fourteen students from the Dunham School of Business  +Aurora University attended the event, accompanied by Marketing Professor Dr. +Debra Zahay-Blatz


Social media marketing, digitial Marketing
14th Annual Okner Symposium, Loyola University Chicago, February 21, 2014


A social media marketing expert, Ms. Bader focused on personal branding and Word of Mouth marketing.  Since Ms. Bader focuses on social media marketing, which depends on recommendations, she suggested that students apply social media concepts to their personal brands.  Her suggestion was   "Live a recommendable life"  to succeed personally and professionally. She encouraged students to think of themselves as a brand and to work to create an authentic online image.  

Ms Bader said that in study after study consumers indicate they rely on recommendations in decision making.  In the most recent study by Nielson, 92% of respondents reported a positive recommendation from friend or family member was the biggest influence on their purchase decision.  The influence of personal recommendations is much higher than other forms of media. Therefore, students need to create a recommendable life, realizing that recommendations from others will play a big role in their professional growth.

Living a Recommendable Life

Ms. Bader's five steps to successfully living a recommendable life include:  

1) Develop a clear and purposeful story.   How do you want to be recommended?  What are the reasons to recommend you?   What do you want to have people to remember and notice? Are you creative, prompt, hard-working, innovative, resourceful?
2) Live your brand.  Be yourself and don't try to be what you are not.  Dialogue with people about creativity or whatever is your passion; create and share content on topics related to your personal brand. Surround yourself with ideas relating to your interests.
3) Be human, transparent and make your own mistakes. 
4) Stay engaging and interesting.  Use the 90/10, rule.   Ninety percent of content you share be engaging to your consumers.  Engaging content is perceived as more interesting content.
5) Regularly evaluate your persona/brand as it evolves and stay true to your core. Create a quarterly report for yourself. Evaluate how you are you being perceived and how your skills are helping your organization.

Ms. Bader encouraged students to "go and create and share your goals."  She said that you are in charge of how people perceive you online.  Live a recommendable life and make sure that people know it by your unique online branding strategy.


By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Four Foundations of the Digital Marketing Mix


Meeting the Challenge of Digital Marketing

Last year I reported a recent study that said only eight percent of brands thought their marketing team was strong across all digital channels. If the vast majority of companies don't think company marketing department is up to the challenge of digital marketing, I wanted to try to help simplify what can be seen as a complicated process. We traditionally think of the marketing mix as product, price, promotion and place.   I think it is useful to consider the Four Foundations of Digital Marketing Mix.  These Four Foundations are:  Web site design/usability, Email, Search and Social Marketing.  These Four Foundations are areas where the company wants to focus in developing a digital competency.  These important digital communications channels  are listed in the figure below.

email,search, social, web design
Four Foundations of the Digital Marketing Mix

The Four Foundations Work Together

The reason that these channels are the foundations of digital marketing is that they work together to produce results.  Of course, before beginning any digital marketing campaign, managers should carefully consider the overall strategy of the organization and the brand positioning strategy, i.e., the target market, the products offered, the product category and the point of differentiation.  Without a strong strategic background, all marketing efforts lack focus and are less effective.

Assuming the strategy is in place, the subsequent marketing campaigns that are run on digital platforms should work together.  For example, the web site should be optimized for organic search in terms of the title tag and appropriate keywords and point the user to sites for social interaction.  In turn, search and social media should work together also.  One way to do this is to monitor social media channels to understand how to optimize paid and organic search.  Email campaigns should also be integrated with social media.  Use email to send out social media updates.  Once people are interacting with your firm on social media, collect email addresses for social communication.  Include social media connection information on emails.

Effective Marketers Use All Four Channels

The most effective marketers look at all four channels of the Digital Marketing Mix and see how they can work together in an integrated fashion to produce results.  I have used Dreamfields Pasta in our textbook Roberts and Zahay and my class sessions here at +Aurora University as a good example of this type of integrated digital campaign across channels.  The company has a high price point, a unique point of dffierence and a strong grasp of digital channel communication.  Here is a video describing how this one company clearly understands its unique differentiating point and leverages it across the foundation channels of the Digital Marketing Mix.  By understanding its customers and which channels they use, the company created a highly effective cross-channel campaign.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Where Can You Find Resources for Website Conversion?

Conversion Concept Came from Direct Marketing

This upcoming week in Internet Marketing class at +Aurora University,  we are discussing direct marketing foundations of the internet.  One of the key aspects of direct marketing that has been invaluable in Internet Marketing is the concept of conversion.  +Brian Massey and I gave a talk at the Chicago Conversion Conference last summer that outlined some of the concepts of website optimization that came from direct marketing.  For example, the concepts of A/B testing and measuring the results of direct marketing campaigns are critical to establishing a successful web site.


New Toolbox Site Launched by SiteTuners 

My professional colleague at SiteTuners, +Tim Ash, CEO and the author of the book Landing Page Optimization,  has launched the Conversion Ninja Toolbox to help marketing professionals improve their conversion rate on the web. The tool is free and includes a directory of resources  for many aspects of website conversion.

Some of the resources available for web marketers include:

  • Creation tools for wire-framing, content development, landing page development and more.
  • Diagnostic tools to  identify the biggest areas for improvement of website performance and usability.
  • Engagement tools  to take efforts to the next level with tools for abandonment recovery, personalization and interaction.
  • Testing and Improvement tools for large enterprises as well as no-cost tools for smaller sites.

Site Includes Experts and Other Resources

The site also includes a list of experts and other resources for conversion optimization such as books and conferences.  The site also allows users to rate and review tools.  Conversion optimization can make a big difference to firms looking to maximize their web site performance.  I found the list of tools to be comprehensive and plan to use this resource kit when teaching website design and usability later in the Spring.  Thanks, Tim for the great resources.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Power of Creativity Revealed

AU Students Visit Two Creative Companies

Today I am reporting the highlights of our two corporate visits on Friday, November 8th with the Aurora University Marketing students.  We had an interesting day and learned more about the creative side of marketing.  We went to +AnswersMedia, a video production company that features a high-tech facility and Red Frog Events, an event marketing firm with a unique corporate culture. We spent about an hour and a half at each firm and the students learned about these possible careers in marketing.  The firms definitely are examples of choice for those wishing to explore some of the more creative aspects of a marketing career.

Video production, green screen
AU Students and Dr VanderSchee on the "Green Screen"

Answers Media:  Creativity and Technology at Work

At Answers Media our host was Account Executive Katie Power.  We had a tour of the studios and the control room.  The company has one of the few facilities in town that can broadcast live video. We got a chance to stand in front the green screen and see ourselves with a different background on the monitor.

The technology enables the company to work for large agencies, public relations firms, associations and other companies to provide video production services for commercials, music videos and television programs.  The company features two kitchens for use in cooking shows and also provides integrated marketing services.  AnswersMedia redesigned the LavaLamp website and also created some video advertising for them with an integrated look and feel.

Answers Media has also done work for larger brands such as Doritos and Toyota.  Clients have to be on a short time frame and the company often has to work quickly.  There are internships available on the creative and account sides of the firm, but definitely more on the creative side.  The company even employs a medical animator for working with pharmaceutical companies.

Red Frog Events:  Creativity in the Workplace

In the afternoon, we visited +Red Frog Events, where we were hosted by Hannah and Lizzie.  We had a complete tour of the company, including the tree houses, swings and puzzle room. The workplace theme is "Camp Red Frog."

event marketing, red frog events
AU Students and Drs. Vander Schee and Zahay-Blatz at "Camp Red Frog."

Red Frog Invents "Active Event" Industry

The company produces unique weekend events and hires many interns as "Tadpoles" to help with these special events that have become the firm's signature. The firm looks for people who want to use their creativity and passion in the workplace and laugh along the way. Company Founder, Joe Ryan, tries to create outdoor, weekend events with a creative twist, such as the Great Urban Race, Rirefly Music Festival and Warrior Dash.  The company virtually created the 'active event' industry. Tadpoles work hard but enjoy the company perks such as free lunches workout facilities and unlimited vacation days.   Theme days such as Jersey Thursday and Pajama Day break up the work week and help compensate for long hours on the job when working events.

Competition for Jobs is Intense

Red Frog is listed on Inc. Magazine's "Fastest Growing Companies List" and is consistently listed as one of the best places to work, particularly for the Millennial Generation.  Those who seek to work at Red Frog must go through a long interview process and commit to live the Red Frog principles, such as live with passion, anticipate challenges, be an ideal teammate, embrace change and do exceptional work.  Students can also volunteer at events to get an idea of what it would be like to work for the firm.

The company is always looking for new interns and those seeking a fun and fast-paced environment should consider this firm. Those who make it past "Tadpole" status become "Frogs" and receive full-time positions. Impressively,  the company seeks to donate $25 million from its events to +St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for a proton therapy research center, through partnership with their events.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Don't Miss Out on These Social Networking Sites!

I am teaching social media marketing this semester at +Aurora University  and in my day class we have just finished talking about the major social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest/Instagram.  We focused in the first half of class on using these platforms for social networking professionally and improving our personal brand image.  Other forms of professional social networking are often overlooked. I wanted to describe three social networking sties that are helpful professionally in this blog post.  The post will. focus on BuiltIn Chicago, Slideshare and Meetup.


Share Slides, Learn More

Each of these three social networking tools is designed to help people develop their particular interests. +SlideShare Inc provides is a social sharing site designed for sharing content in a user-friendly manner.  I use Slideshare.net to post presentations I have given so that i can get the word out about what I am doing to a broader audience.  I also use Slideshare when I want to find out about something new.  One of my friends said you can learn brain surgery from the site!  This statement is almost true, as there are presentations on nearly every subject posted.  Slideshare also suggests new presentations based on what I post, so I get a lot of recommendations for CRM and customer information management.

Follow Startups in Chicago, Find Jobs

BuiltIn Chicago is a local social sharing site that allows you to connect with people in your industry.  The focus is primarily on start-up and technology companies, so I get an opportunity to see what is happening in our area.  They also have live "launch" events periodically to foster in-person sharing.  The site also has an active job board and an emphasis on blogging.  In fact, I found several entry level jobs and internships on the site in our area of digital marketing.

Develop Your Interests, Network Locally

The final site I want to focus on in this post is Meetup.com.  Meetup is a great way to find people in a particular professional field but also has groups to help develop your professional interests.  I am a member of everything from bicycling groups to groups that focus on 'big data' technology.  I also am a member of the local American Marketing Association group.  Many people in Chicago use Meetup to connect. In fact, BuiltIn Chicago also posts events on Meetup.  Through email updates I learn what is going on with my groups.  I like the local focus as there are events in the Fox Valley I can attend and not just downtown Chicago.

I would strongly recommend adding these social networking tools to your 'toolkit,' whether you are a student, recent grad or have been working a long time.  If you are interested in learning more about a subject, networking with those in the area, finding a job or internship or just keeping up, you should try out these three websites:  Slideshare, Meetup and BuiltInChicago.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Easy Google Analytics and Other Ideas That Work for Teaching Social Media in the Classroom

At the recent MMA (Marketing Management Association)  Conference +Todd Kelsey  and I described how to integrate Google Analytics into blogger to teach analytics without programming to undergraduates.  Our slideshare shows these simple steps and also emphasizes the importance of establishing Google Authorship and how to do by entering those sites to which you contribute in a Google+ profile and registering the associated gmail address.  I certainly wish someone had told me about Google Authorship when I was starting out in my professional career (in fact, I wish the option were available).  It is a great way to get established as an expert in a particular area and authorship will last an entire career.



It was interesting to see the approaches others have taken to teaching social media, especially to this generation of students.

Dr. Paul Kotz from St. Mary's University in Minnesota shared his research in reaching out to Millennial students, those from ages 11-31, born in 1982-2002.  I noticed, as Paul did, that these students like structure and deadlines.  So instead of having a social media plan that is due all at once, I have a different deliverable every week that the students should be working on to effectively deliver the plan at the end of the stated time.

Dr. +Jenna Drenten from John Carroll University shared what she is doing with Pinterest in the classroom.  The students used a private board in Pinterest to share their ideas about a marketing competition in which they participated.  Since it was a national competition,  the groups did not want others to see their results.  I did not realize that Pinterest allowed at least up to three private boards, so that might be a good way to share classroom information in the future.  I have taught Pinterest in class and, like the presenter, found that the men in the class are more reluctant to use the tool.  They perceive the tool as more for women and don’t ‘get’ the interface as readily as the women in the class. 

Professors +Alisa Agozzino  and  Kathie Fleck, Ohio Northern University, talked about their social media marketing minor which includes the history of social media, personal branding, strategies and a campaign management class.  Their program, which was in conjunction with the communications school, so this curriculum looks like a good choice for them.  

In our program,at Aurora University, the social media class is where the students have an introduction to social media analytics.  They develop both a personal social media campaign for themselves and one for a corporation or NGO.  Our Digital Marketing students also Internet marketing where they will  run an AdWords campaign with the option of a corporate social media campaign.  Personal branding is covered in depth in our social media class and IMC, Social Media and Internet all cover strategic concepts and history of the medium.


By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Things You May Not Know About Social Media Marketing at Aurora University

Social Media Marketing Can Be Taught


First, you may not know that we teach Social Media Marketing at Aurora University.  The Social Media Marketing course I am teaching is new this semester.   I recently accepted a position as Full Professor of Marketing at AU and will be teaching in the Marketing Department.  Next Fall we are launching a new Digital Marketing Undergraduate Minor.  However, you can take Social Media Marketing as part of the current Undergraduate program in Interactive Marketing, earning either a minor or a concentration. 

I have been teaching Internet Marketing for almost fifteen years and many former students are working in social media. This area of marketing has strong employment potential, something I am always aware of when deciding what material to cover in class.  You can read more about my background and teaching philosophy and find how where to find me on social media here.


Social Media Marketing


Social Media Marketing Has Many Sides


Everyone reading this post may be familiar with and able to post to one of the major Social Media Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.  We are going to learn how to create a personal social media plan, including a LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed in searches.  In the course of this plan we will learn the major social media platforms and how to use them to get noticed by potential employers and others in the field.  Along the way we will learn about Google Authorship, effective blogging techniques and how to write for social media.

We will also learn the structure and discipline of a corporate social media plan and how it fits into a digital marketing strategy.  In every marketing discipline we need to learn how to plan, implement and measure our programs.  Social Media Marketing is no different.  As I have previously stated in this blog and on slideshare, I view social media as integral to content marketing.  In fact content marketing 'makes sense' of the seemingly disparate forms of social media depicted by the above graphic.

Your work products from this class will be both the Personal Social Media Plan as well as a corporate plan.  In addition, you will know how to build a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  The course has lots of lab time and is interactive and collaborative.  You won't be bored---I hope!

You Can Still Enroll


If what you read is interesting to you, there are still spots left in Social Media Marketing.  
BUS 4610 01 Social Media Marketing meets Tuesday & Thursday  1:15 pm to 2:30 pm, DH 102. I hope to see you there.  For those who can't fit the course into their schedule and for my corporate friends  follow the progress of the course in this blog.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Interactive Marketing Graduate Tells All: Search Guru Mike Glassberg

Comments from Recent Grad Mike Glassberg:

"Who am I?
Hey everyone! My name is Mike Glassberg, I’m a proud graduate of NIU’s (outstanding!) Interactive Marketing program put together by Dr. Zahay-Blatz. I recently started an internship at Modern Marketing Partners where I provide SEO and social media services to clients.


Mike Glassberg, Debra Zahay-Blatz, SEO, social media
Practicing What They Preach: Glassberg and Zahay-Blatz
 at networking event at Modern Marketing Partners
 in Naperville earlier this Summer.


How did the Interactive Program help me in my current job?

Wow – not until I talked to my colleagues at MMP (who have all graduated within the last few years) did I realize how superior our program was. To start, most other schools still don’t offer specialized education in “interactive” or 2-way marketing.

Our class did a paid search campaign using Google Adwords with real companies, a search and social campaign, and since day on on the job, I’ve been able to speak the lingo: Alt tags, Bounce rate, stickiness, etc. One of the things that really helped in my current job is learning the Wordpress and Google+ ecosystem. As an SEO consultant, it is my job to be able to optimize a website for tags, and the hands-on experience I had as a student was invaluable going into my current position.

What about some advice for current students?

Don’t limit yourself to the jobs at career fairs. I saw so many students get down on themselves because they didn’t get an internship or job offer at the bi-annual NIU career fairs. The opportunities for employment outside of NIU are virtually limitless.

The only reason I received my job is because I went to a networking event with Dr. Zahay-Blatz. My boss wasn’t actively looking for an employee, but after a brief conversation, he (presumably) saw something he liked and went with his gut feeling.

What are three ways to find an awesome job outside of NIU’s career fairs?

1.) Networking – Dr. Zahay-Blatz has a number of events per semester that she invites students to. Step out of your comfort zone and go to one. You’ll meet industry professionals, learn an incredibly amount, and start building your network.
2.) LinkedIn – The 2nd best way to find a job is through LinkedIn, but only if you’ve done step 1 first. The more meaningful connections you have, the more likely you are to find someone, who knows someone, who can land you an interview.
3.) Huskies Get HiredThis was consistently one of the most underutilized resources when I was a student. There’s a job board online with employers actively looking for students that go to NIU. Take advantage of that while you can.
Thank you for reading; I hope this post provided you with some insight. If you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out anytime, I’m pretty quick at responding through any medium." 

You can follow +Mike Glassberg on G+ or Twitter at @mglassberg2.  I wasn't surprised he has done so well right after graduation as he was active in networking, LinkedIn and Huskies Get Hired.  Most jobs are not advertised so networking is key.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.