Tour de NCMPR District 4 Conference: Divertido y Todos los Colores

by Jeff Ebbing
Southeastern Community College
West Burlington, IA


The content lineup for D4’s “Energize Your Marketing” was as diverse as the host city of Houston, Texas. Hats off to the planning team for assembling so many different voices and perspectives.


District 4 Director Matt Radcliffe set the tone right away when he ditched the standard conference podium for a big comfy couch as he played the role of Tonight Show host. He was the best [insert relevant reference here – old timers, imagine Johnny Carson; young members, picture Jimmy Fallon] I’ve ever seen play an NCMPR conference. And you know what? It was great.


The studio audience vibe continued for a live recording of our popular Peer & Simple podcast. Host Stephanie Reyna zoomed in from her home base in California to interview Obed Guerrero of Laredo College to talk about his award-winning radio ads. The discussion spanned the gamut from telenovela-inspired scripts to understanding your audience to coming up with the right calls to action and wrapped up with Obed breaking out his radio announcer voice for an authentic signoff. Que Bueno!


I had the honor of moderating a panel of media types from TV and print. We were reminded of the importance of getting to the point with our releases. When a typical day’s inbox fills with 400 emails, even the most intrepid reporter can miss the good stuff! Don’t be afraid to resend your release or follow up with your pitch (because that was like, 399 emails ago!). Another key takeaway: when there’s bad news at your college, they don’t expect you know all the details at the outset. Just be upfront about it. No matter how bad or insignificant it is, NEVER give them the silent treatment – they may think you’re hiding the truth.


And just when I thought I’d seen every kind of presentation style imaginable in my 18 years of going to conferences, I experienced my first old-school presentation. And when I say, old school, I mean OLD SCHOOL. The session on direct mail marketing was presented by an industry veteran who quite literally wrote the book on direct mail (ok, maybe not THE book but certainly A book).


Instead of using a laptop with your garden variety Powerpoint slide deck, he set up an actual flipchart. On an actual easel.


With each new talking point, he would flip the paper over to reveal the info.


It went like this:


“Direct mail marketing starts with buying a list and calculating your postage…”


*Flips paper over: WHOOSH!


“Once you calculate your cost, divide by your profit margin to get your minimum response rate….”




I gotta tell ya, the dude was all-in with his craft. But don’t be fooled that his OG style wasn’t up-to-date. He shared current industry trends and tactics including targeted variable data printing, QR codes, and data analytics.


As far as #ncmprfancy, I managed to snap a breathtaking pic of the downtown skyline at daybreak and saw some amazing murals during my morning runs, and I made some great new friendships as we explored downtown in the after-hours.


For more D4 highlights, check out @jeff_ebbing or #ncmprfancy on Instagram.


Last stop: Sensational sunsets in St. Pete.






Jeff Ebbing is the director of marketing and communications at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, and the president of NCMPR.


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