Announcing the AMA Pittsburgh 2021 Visiting Professor Program

Announcing the AMA Pittsburgh 2021 Visiting Professor Program

Last summer, during a pandemic, The CMO Club and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA Pittsburgh) launched the VPP.  Similar to a college internship, the VPP invites marketing professors from the tri-state region into Pittsburgh agencies, marketing departments, and marketing organizations for a mutually beneficial experience during the summer.

Professors found value in the VPP, commenting that it “was great to learn in real-time about real-world problems relating to supply chain, eCommerce, and B2B” and that the VPP experience provided “an opportunity to learn about things I could use in my classroom” and “forged relationships that I believe can help students when networking.”

Participating companies found value as well. A theme shared after working with the selected VPP professor “intern” was that company leaders were able to see their organization “through someone else’s eyes…” and that the workshops and presentations led by the professors were “relevant” and “valuable.”

The attached information provides details regarding the timeline, goals, benefits, and expectations. Please review this carefully, as well as the program expectations, which outline your company’s commitment to participation.

Please join us for AMA Pittsburgh’s Summer 2021 Visiting Professor Program by applying for one of the opportunities to potentially be selected to “visit” a local marketing department, agency, or organization to virtually (or in person if safe/regulations allow) become a Visiting Professor!

To be considered, please complete the application found at this link by the end of day FRIDAY, April 23. The information you provide will facilitate the matching process and help companies identify professors best suited to their company and needs resulting in a mutually beneficial experience. Your application information will be available to participating companies to review. These companies will then rank their top three applicants. Last year, all participating organizations were matched with a professor from their top three!

If you have questions, please contact us directly, or contact AMA Pittsburgh at or Nan Nicholls listed below. We look forward to a successful and meaningful experience for your organization! (Please feel free to share this invitation with your marketing colleagues.)


Nan Nicholls*
Professor, Marketing
Slippery Rock University

Cindy Donohoe**
Highmark Health  

Sean Smith**
Schneider Downs 

*Board Member, VP Collegiate, AMA Pittsburgh Chapter

**Member, The CMO Club Pittsburgh Chapter


How Apple Reimagined Its WWDC Experience

How Apple Reimagined Its WWDC Experience

June 23, 2020

By: Zack Kutchma – Aspiring Marketing & Brand Leader | Technologist, Entrepreneur, & Storyteller | Future “Gordon Ramsey” of Marketing

Apple has always been known for continuously reinventing the customer experience and creating some of the best experiences in the world.

On June 22, 2020, Apple made numerous big software announcements at WWDC20. This year’s WWDC Special Event Keynote was unique before it even began. It’s the first time Apple’s developer conference has been streamed exclusively online with no in-person event.

The all-virtual developer conference beamed from an empty Apple Park. Apple introduced its new innovations including iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, macOS Big Sur, tvOS 14, AirPods Pro updates, Apple Silicon for Mac, and much more. Each massive update transforms the experience of using your favorite devices, giving you the power to do more of the things you love like never before. These updates will be available later this fall.

As a marketing student, the thing that kept jumping out to me was how Apple absolutely nailed the transition from a live event to a virtual experience. Having some extra time this summer due to the pandemic has presented me a unique learning opportunity to attend countless Webinars, Webexes, Zoom events, or as I like to call them—Corona-casts. I have found that some companies do an okay job, while others fail to really execute a virtual environment that creates an engaging and riveting experience.

The simplest way to keep an audience’s attention is to break a pattern. In other words, think different—and that’s exactly what Apple did today in its first all-virtual presentation.

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Apple CEO, Tim Cook, walked onto the stage of an empty Steve Jobs Theater on the company’s campus in Cupertino, California. He sat on a stool to address the serious issues of race, social justice, and COVID-19. After speaking for about five minutes, Cook handed the presentation over to Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi.

Federighi delivered his presentation from an entirely different studio on Apple Park. It was the first sign that this virtual meeting would be constantly changing to keep people’s attention.

By the end of the presentation which lasted nearly two hours, the audience saw 20 different speakers involved in Apple’s product development. No one spoke for more than ten minutes, and many of them spoke for just two minutes to keep the action moving.

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Apple’s virtual WWDC wasn’t just okay—it could be the future of keynotes. An innovative delivery combined with crisp and clean visuals translated to a truly captivating experience. Many people will never get the chance to visit Apple Park, but Apple’s execution today brought an immersive view of its campus into people’s homes as if you were actually there exploring.

Novelty is one way to re-engage listeners. Novelty simply means that the brain craves surprise. When the brain notices something new or unexpected, it immediately snaps back to attention. Although there are several ways of creating novel experiences in presentations, the simplest tactic is changing speakers. A new voice, a new face, and a new topic is an instant attention-getter.

The human brain is attracted to new stimuli. Social media designers have perfected this art, creating apps that almost give us dopamine hits in small doses. Tired of that TikTok video? Don’t worry. In a few seconds, you’ll get a new one. Addictive apps don’t leave you time to get bored.

In the same way, an engaging virtual presentation won’t leave you time to continually doze off into a boring pattern. If your audience sees ten PowerPoint slides in a row—all text and delivered by the same monotone voice—they’re bound to tune out. Remember, the brain is easily bored.

As events continue to gain more traction digitally, become less costly, and more broadly available, organizers will be challenged to create new, distinctive experiences, while also being forced to rethink the “authentic” networking experience.

About the Author, Zack Kutchma

Profile photo of Zack Kutchma

Zack is an authentic and highly motivated professional with extensive knowledge in business, marketing, and technology. He is an established entrepreneur who takes pride in providing the best customer experiences possible. Not only is he a passionate leader, collaborator, communicator, thinker, and doer who is relatable cross-functionally, he constantly strives towards excellence because “good enough” isn’t.

How Apple Reimagined Its WWDC Experience

8 Tips to Curate Data for Deeper Insights and Better Decision-Making

David Krajicek

There is no dearth of data for marketers to draw conclusions from, but building insights that drive smart decisions is a more nuanced and valuable skill.

My college career was a whirlwind of physics and psychology classes, but I vividly recall the one art history seminar I audited my sophomore year. The instructor made an observation that has stuck with me to this day: “Collecting is the easy part. Curating—now that is the hard part.”

I am struck by how prescient this observation was—a continuing truism in the world of art, for sure, but also an emerging insight into today’s changing business and marketing environment.

When we think about a curator, we typically imagine someone who can bring together paintings, sculpture and artifacts to convey a unique perspective on an artist, an era or even a social movement.

But when I think about curation in a broader sense, I focus on new perspectives or ideas that arise from any combination of things, in business as well as art. As we are trying to make good decisions about where to grow business, we can collect a lot of information from various sources; lack of data is not the problem. But are we appropriately curating that information to drive a unique perspective for our brands or customers?

Lots of folks can “collect” data from a number of sources and spend a few minutes lining the numbers up in parallel spreadsheet columns to create something called an integrated database. But refined data integration, the curator’s principle task and skill, requires much more. Similar to the curator of a major Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso exhibit, data curators need to follow some simple steps to elevate their work from good to great, to generate unique perspectives and insights and tell a story that resonates.

1. Know your objective from the start.

It may seem obvious, but having a clear picture of what you want to achieve is essential, and the more specific, the better. This will help separate data that is truly useful from what is simply available. Opportunism is fine, but it should not be your guiding principle. Extraneous data will just add noise to the system.

Too often I see exercises in “data exploration” without a compass or end point. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against an interrogation of the data, but unstructured data-fishing often leads to dead ends or insignificant insights. Having the objective in place is also important because you need a clear understanding of how the marketing environment operates and how the sources can serve as a proxy for market dynamics. This perspective can ensure your analyses yield relevant insights.

2. See the bigger picture with an eye toward implementation.

In everything you do, think of larger contexts. How will your integrated data set be used? Who will be turning to it most often? The data sets are less important than the insights we are looking to activate and our reason for activation. How will they be applied by your business?

The curation process is almost like reverse engineering, working back from the decision, rather than from the bottom with the data. Having this sensibility is key because the goal is to drive change, not just develop an insight. Plan your analyses knowing what decisions need to be made, who is deciding and how the decisions will be made.

3. Be directive, not dogmatic.

The intent of data integration is not to abandon or replace surveys and other custom solutions at all costs; this is a major misunderstanding about the curation and insight generation process. There are some questions that can only be answered by a direct, targeted approach.

When you know the information you already have from behavioral sources, you can look to fill in the most important blanks with survey insights. This will allow you to save the respondent’s time and energy for the issues where their input is indispensable.

Saying that you need and want only secondary data is more dogmatic than anything; you need to follow where the insight and the decision lead. The appropriate proxy could be both primary and secondary sources. The point is to respond to your goals with clarity and as few preconceptions as possible.

4. Be additive, not duplicative.

In assembling your data stories and libraries, look for data sources that complement rather than overlap. Having two different metrics for the same market dynamic is confusing, not constructive. It may take some extra time to find the right yin to your existing data’s yang, but good curation requires looking beyond the options handed to you. If you are not willing to push to be better, your insights and decisions will suffer.

5. Embrace transparency.

Do not accept ambiguity in your data sources, and avoid it in your own output. Understand the quality and limitations of your data sources before you bring them together, and look for better data if you are not satisfied. By the same token, be very clear with your audiences about how you have combined and edited information, so they know what they are getting and how they can and cannot use it. Black box approaches ultimately benefit no one.

6. Understand your audiences.

To make your curation efforts pay dividends, you need to be sure that the results are served in ways that will speak to their intended audiences. We need to bring this sensibility to every curatorial engagement for a brand or client.

At the most fundamental level, know how many types of users want to digest and use the information you are providing. Understand the decisions they need to make, and put the right data front and center in your dashboard or deck. Think about nuances like pairings; putting one insight next to another may bring out new implications in both, just as hanging two paintings side by side reveals unseen elements in each.

7. Be data-agnostic.

Nimbleness and flexibility are essential qualities of the data curator. If the engagement’s goals require that we incorporate third-party data, publicly available sources and the client’s loyalty card records, do not resist the obvious. Predetermined ideas about where proper insights come from and who is profiting can distract you from your top priority: meeting the client’s stated needs.

8. The act of curation is about communication.

In the end, curation is profoundly active. We are not just moving puzzle pieces around, we are creating a work that is part science, part art and largely shaped by the curator. It is the job of the business to give the curator enough information to do his or her job right. The curator, in turn, should fearlessly pursue the goals of his or her clients, always on the hunt for better data, deeper insights and clearer connections between statistics and decisions.

Author Bio:
David Krajicek is CCO of GfK Consumer Experiences and a member of GfK’s board of directors. He can be reached at

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