Going Global

Having studied advertising and marketing for four years now, I’ve learned more theory then you could shake a stick at.  However, there is no substitute for real world experience. Some of you may be already familiar with the Bateman Competition, a national case study competition held by PRSSA every year. Each university has a team who acts as an “agency” to develop a public relations campaign for the selected client of the year. This gives students a chance to rack up real campaign experience for actual clients and receive some feedback on their efforts as well outside of a professional setting. The Spartan International Advertising Association over at Michigan State University is pioneering a brand new program, the first of its kind in the country, very similar to the Bateman Competition.

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Partnering up with internationally renowned media mogul Mark Carassi, the SIAA is forming a “virtual international agency” to work with real clients on a global scale. Using contacts established by Carassi, the SIAA will work with big name players such as LG, Samsung, and Sony providing advertising consulting services in return for educational grants for MSU. Carassi got the idea from a similar program overseas and saw MSU’s student IAA chapter as the perfect fit. The SIAA is the first student chapter of the IAA in the country and for those of you interested in participating in this virtual agency can attend an informational meeting next Thursday, October 15th at 5:30 in room C213 in Wells Hall.

Go Ride A Bike…For Free

According to The New York Times, bike borrowing and sharing programs are becoming very popular at universities and colleges around the country. Some universities are funding the programs, hoping that students will choose bike travel over using their car. Some schools spent as much as $50,000 on their program, offering bikes that sell for over $400. Other programs involve discounts through local bike shops. Not only will this cut down on carbon emissions, but it will also decrease traffic and parking competition on campus.

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I think there’s a definite need for such a program at Michigan State. Students pay between $1.25 – $1.75 per hour for campus parking, and tickets start at $10 and quickly accumulate. However, this kind of program might conflict with the City of East Lansing’s actions to move students as far as possible from the actual campus. More and more students live in apartments up to two miles away from where they attend class. The main campus is already about four square miles, or about a 45-minute walk from end to end. Some might also say that bike riding decreases in the winter with increased snow and ice levels. Still, the bike remains the best method of transportation at schools like MSU and U of M. It woud be in the best interest of the universities to develop a free bike program for students.

Furthermore, cities should start programs like this. I would potentially ride a bike to downtown Ann Arbor if I had a decent street bicycle. However, I currently do not own one, so I lack that option. A city could help develop its green accomplishments (and its green reputation) with this kind of program.

(NOTE – I’ve just been informed by fellow Eco-Friendly Intern Jennifer Harrison that MSU does have a bike rental program. You can read about it at bike.msu.edu.)

Follow our internship at my personal Digital Marketing Blog. Also, go to the Social Harbor website to learn more about Ingenex Digital Marketing.

Shock and Empowerment

I started my journalism program at Michigan State thinking that I would focus mostly on environmental reporting. As I progressed in the program, I realized that it wasn’t such a good fit. Most news organizations are dissolving their teams of environmental reporters, if not removing science from their coverage altogether. The New York Times does an excellent job at it, but – as a privately owned paper – they operate much differently than newspapers and television stations that are part of huge corporations.

The second reason I strayed is because environmental journalism is almost always about large-scale problems and disasters that seem irresolvable. For example, global warming has become one of the top concerns of the human race. But even if there is a multinational effort to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and take other necessary precautions, the effects of human pollution might already be too pervasive.

This presents a problem for the journalism industry, because the audience has a tendency to become desensitized when it is presented with overwhelmingly negative news on a regular basis. People do need a shock in order to change their habits and, say, stop throwing those pop cans in the trash (this is a common act in states where you don’t get the 10 cent deposit back). But when faced with too much shock, people just reel in terror.

People also need to feel that they can make a difference (i.e. – self-efficacy), and that any behavior changes won’t harm their lifestyle or priorities. I think that a combination of shock and empowerment have led to some significant improvements over the past few years. If everyone switches from incandescent bulbs to the twisty fluorescent ones, that could mean a drastic reduction in electric bills and, therefore, usage of coal at power plants. It’s a small step, but a beneficial one.

The other danger is that words, ideas, and actions that were once revolutionary can become watered-down clichés. Many businesses these days advertise “green” or “eco-friendly” practices, without actually living up to or providing any credible evidence for their claims. How do we pick apart the honest companies from the fraudulent ones?

In our first meeting at Ingenex Digital Marketing, we were given the tasks of finding out how to increase the size and scope of the internship, and how to make the internship more eco-friendly. I think I’ll come up with more ideas once I get a better understanding of what digital marketing actually entails (during my two tours in a university, I never had a class in marketing, advertising, or business). However, as I think of ideas to make the internship more eco-friendly, I will keep in mind the necessity of combining shock and self-efficacy to produce real results in the target audience. (Please visit my personal Digital Marketing Blog for updates on my Eco-Friendly Internship experience.)