Thursday, November 29, 2007

Savy Students and a Marketing Icon

The two go together, don’t they? A team of students from the Integrated Marketing Communications program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University recently sent me the link. They had produced a podcast interview with Don Schultz, who has already been featured in this blog.
Don is a veteran advertiser and educator who has been a role model and mentor to many of us. That’s probably the reason he has a Wikipedia entry. It’s a delight to hear Don talk about the evolution of integrated marketing communications and speculate on the future. Do take a few minutes and listen to the podcast.

As you do, think about the students who are learning to use social media techniques and the academic programs that are fostering that kind of real world relevance. In my early explorations of DIY Marketing I required a class of MBA students to each “build” something using freely-available applications. They looked at me with dismay; they were marketing students and the idea of exploring the applications wasn’t what they expected. But they got over their initial shock and came up with some great ideas. A couple built wikis, one set up filters (in the days before Google Alerts) to monitor the web for mentions of his company, several did podcasts or blogs. No one bought any software; one did have to buy a microphone--$17 as I remember, but that was the extent of the entire class’s expenditure.

At least one project made it into the marketing communications repertoire of the student’s firm. None of the projects that featured their own academic program were picked up by the administration, but—true to my prediction—a student group soon started their own independent blog. Higher ed has a real problem with open communications about programs, courses, and faculty. It’s even worse when it’s undergraduates where parents may see what’s going on.

These students are the future of our discipline. They need to be grounded in business-relevant, business-appropriate use of social media tools. Otherwise they may meet the fate of the bank intern who was all over the web the week after Halloween. This could be an urban myth, but no one has yet exposed it as a hoax, and the pictures are great!

Academics need to make the extra effort and practitioners really need to support them with guest lectures, curriculum support, internship programs and more in order to make this happen. Then we’ll have more great creative products like this one from Medill. Thanks, gang!
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