University Students Create Advertising Campaigns for Scranton Organizations

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A class of communication students branched out of the classroom and into the community this semester, offering their brightest ideas for success in advertising campaigns designed for a local organization.  Five groups in Advertising Decision Making worked side-by-side with the East Scranton Business Association (ESBA) throughout the course of the semester to model a campaign aimed at increasing awareness and membership for the organization.

The ESBA, a business organization that caters to all of East Scranton, was established in the early 1980s and aims to promote local small businesses to the nearby community.  The organization coordinates business necessities for its members, like advertising and marketing plans and business supplies.

Stacy Smulowitz, a Communication instructor, arranged the partnership between the ESBA and students as a service learning component of the course. “[Service learning] seems to work really well with students where they get the book, read it, and then actually do it,” Smulowitz said. She also assigns a reflection activity to offer students the opportunity to think about what they’ve worked on and see how it connects to their reading throughout the course.

Groups of about five students each spent the semester teaming up with ESBA leadership to learn about the organization, identify the target audience and understand what areas they can help improve. The groups organized campaigns that touched on an array of aspects, including marketing strategies, media placement, and creative initiatives like advertisements, radio public service announcements and television commercials.

“The goal of our campaign is to create awareness and membership for the ESBA,” said Meghan Kelly, a junior from Lynbrook, N.Y. “We’ve learned teamwork, and how to use different media strategies to target our audience.”

Several groups highlighted social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as useful tools to reach a wide audience with free publicity and promotion. Students also drew on the area’s unique bonus of several colleges. They recommended reaching out to student interns to take care of the more time-consuming tasks like staying on top of the social media accounts.

Groups were challenged to present a “big idea,” a keyword or slogan that encompasses the ESBA’s mission. “Connect” and “A Helping Hand” were offered to frame the organization as an approachable source to help business network and receive personal attention.

After students pitched their campaigns, ESBA first vice president Eugene McDonough offered feedback—giving students a taste of a real-world career assignment—and evaluated their ideas—giving the ESBA a whole new sphere of possible strategies to employ. “It puts a fresh pair of glasses on an old man’s eyes,” McDonough said. “It gives fresh ideas; some of the ideas give just that difference of perspective.”

Overall, students agreed it was a win-win assignment.  “It’s definitely prepared us for the real world,” junior Tara Carmadella, Duryea, said. “So once we leave college we’ll all be better prepared for the advertising industry.”

In the past, Advertising Decision Making classes have partnered with The Colonnade, Scranton Tomorrow's Main Street Project and The University of Scranton's Earth Day Committee.




Public Relations Student Correspondent Laura Bonawits '11
is a communication major from Plymouth, Pa.
Laura Bonawits