A unique marketing class at Gonzaga University offers students a chance to get real-world experience in advertising.
The Promotion Project marketing class, taught by Connie Lipsker, pairs the class with a local business, and the students create an advertising/ public relations campaign that fits with the company’s goals.
“This year for the first time, we chose to work with a nonprofit,” said Lipsker. “We wanted to encourage the students to reach out beyond the campus and work with a nonprofit that doesn’t have a really big budget.”
They chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest, and CEO Darin Christensen, said the timing was perfect.
“We just went through a national rebranding,” he said. “For us it was an opportunity to have these students work on ways to modify this new brand for the Spokane area.”
But first the 15 students were tasked with creating their own advertising agency from the ground up.
“We named it “inspire inc.,” said student Ann Monroe. “Our two goals are to recruit volunteers and increase brand awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest.”
Several Q &A sessions with staffers from the organization helped pinpoint those goals.
“They asked great questions and were clearly motivated,” said Christensen.
Lipsker said when her students learned 30 to 40 young boys have been waiting for a year or more for a Big Brother, they became even more passionate about recruitment.
“The students created a Facebook fundraising page and hope to raise enough to make two matches,” she said. “So far, they’ve raised enough ($1,880) to make one match.”
In addition, inspire inc. created branding tools including stickers, posters and post cards. They hosted an information table at River Park Square and got Spike, the GU mascot to come with them.
Class member, Jack Kennedy said he wanted to be part of the class to gain real-life job experience prior to internship.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Design, social media marketing, copy writing.”
Student Cameron Sannes, a business administration major, who served as project coordinator, said the class has been eye-opening.
“It was quite fun getting started with everything,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of time-management skills and learned to manage other people. I’m definitely putting this on my resume.”
Christensen is excited to see the final results.
“The class culminates with a presentation to us where they show us their research results, the activities they did for recruitment, and what they’ve done to get our name out.”
On Friday, one of those activities filled an auditorium at the Jepson Center.
Inspire inc. hosted a catered lunchtime seminar, featuring student- and guest speaker-led discussion about Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Assistant Professor of Business Don Hackney shared about his time as a Big Brother and encouraged the men in the crowd to volunteer.
“To use a Montana term, cowboy up and get out there, get involved,” he said. “Your presence is so important.”
Lipsker is proud of the way her class has tackled the project.
“The class fulfills two of the missions of Gonzaga,” Lipkser said. “Students get to learn in an experiential setting, creating professional portfolios, while giving back to the community.”
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