Emerson’s Marketing Communication Capstone class is an effort to being the professional world into the classroom, an opportunity for students to create an integrated marketing communications plan for a real-life client.
Their client was Pauline Books and Media, a nonprofit organization associated with nuns and “founded to spread the Gospel through the channels of the modern media.”
“The reason I thought Pauline was a good match was because they are in the publishing and retail sector, as well as have an online store with their headquarters in Boston,” said Roberta Hummel, part of the Marketing Communication Capstone faculty team, at the project's end-of-semester presentation Thursday, December 15, in the Bordy Theater. “So the students were able to touch several facets of marketing through this client.”
Students, who were divided in two teams, worked just like a marketing and advertising agency. They assumed roles of account manager, account planner, creative director, brand champion, and experience manager to develop a feasible plan for the organization within the allocated budget.
Pauline has 12 bookstores in the United States and 200 stores worldwide, but the students focused on rebranding the organization’s U.S. market.
For their Capstone project, students visited Pauline’s publishing house and a retail store, and studied Pauline’s reach as a global organization, Hummel said.
She said that since Capstone is an essential part to students’ concluding chapter at Emerson, it is important that they are given an opportunity to challenge themselves and learn about the professional world they are about to step into.
Hummel approached Emerson’s Career Services with an idea to invite prospective employers to the students’ presentation for feedback and networking. Career Services was more than happy to oblige, with representatives from the fields of marketing and advertising, publishing, and production attending the event.
Blaine Butler, associate director, employer engagement and marketing, in Emerson’s Career Services office, said the companies were eager to see “students in action.”
“This is a unique event and it is possible that employers might find their next intern or employee by the end of this presentation,” Butler said. “In the future, if we can expand and have more companies in attendance, I think it can turn into a good recruiting ground.”
The professionals who attended the event lauded the department’s effort to bring a real organization on board and provide students with an opportunity to work in teams.
“I love any school that presents a program where students can work on a brand right from the beginning and understand all facets of it,” said Jenny Love, vice president and director of talent and culture at CTP, a Boston-based marketing agency. “Through this activity, students also learn how work within teams, which is an important skill for a professional world irrespective of the field you are working in. I would absolutely love to recruit people after this event—that’s my goal.”
Representatives of Pauline Books and Media were impressed by the ideas presented by the students and were looking forward to applying them to their current marketing strategy.
“It has been an enlightening experience to see things from a fresh, young perspective of someone who is probably not acquainted with our brand,” said Sister Martha, Pauline Books and Media director of sales and marketing. “It was insightful to hear their questions and understand their curiosity. I have been taking notes throughout their presentation and I know I will put their suggestions to use.”
Meanwhile, the undergraduate students said that the presence of a real client and potential employers for their presentation was initially nerve-wracking, but with time, their nervousness subsided.
Jill Frank ’17 said unlike with most of her previous marketing projects, this time the stakes felt higher.
“It was interesting to work in a real-life spectrum because whenever we were working on marketing projects earlier, we would dismiss our work, saying that this client doesn’t really exist,” Frank said. “We had budget constraints and had to also keep in mind how an organization functions, which gave us a reality check about what we should expect in our careers ahead.”