Strategic Communication Students Join Professionals to Set Record Sales

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Columbia, Mo. (Dec. 5, 2007) — En route to a No. 1 ranking this season, the Missouri Tigers football team scored a big win on Homecoming in October. It wasn’t the only top-ranked program, however, to achieve Homecoming success.

Off the field, 16 Missouri School of Journalism strategic communication students spent the two weeks before Homecoming selling advertisements for a 28-page Homecoming special section. With guidance from the professionals at the Columbia Missourian, they sold 28 of 58 total ads, helping to set a record for Homecoming ad sales. Understanding the sales side of advertising is an important aspect of the Missouri Method, a teaching philosophy of learning by doing.

Missourian's 2007 Homecoming Special Section
The front page of the Missourian’s 2007 Homecoming special section.

“It’s a win-win situation for students, the Columbia Missourian and the journalism program,” said Jack Swartz, advertising director at the Missourian.

The Homecoming special section has become more valuable since 2006, when the Missourian joined with the Mizzou Alumni Association to distribute the section via e-mail to alumni. In its first year, the e-mail service generated a 51 percent increase in sales over the previous year. It jumped 12 percent this year.

Roger Fidler, director of technology initiatives at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, published the electronic version with the help of graduate students.

“(The electronic version) has been an invaluable learning experience for students in advanced media sales,” Swartz said. “It’s also been invaluable to my customers.”

Throughout the assignment, each of the 16 students worked with one of four ad sales professionals at the Columbia Missourian. Kelly Ross, an ad sales representative at the Missourian for two years, worked with senior Cathryn Vaughn.

“I helped her go through the entire method of selling a section,” Ross said. “(Cathryn) did a very good job.”

Vaughn, who’s looking for a job opportunity in Kansas City after graduation, sold two ads to customers who’d never before shown interest in the Homecoming section. She said she relied on business contacts made in other class assignments to reap success.

“I set up times and swung by their offices,” Vaughn said. “You have to be forceful enough to let them know you’re serious, and let them have the time to contemplate and see the value of the ad.”

“I thought it was a really good experience,” she added. “These are really the first ads I’ve sold.”

One benefit for the Missourian, Swartz said, is that many of the strategic communication students have connections to area restaurants, some of which advertise. The Greek community also has been helpful, he said.

“This alliance is a real example of the Missouri Method,” Missourian General Manager Dan Potter said.

The Missourian publishes approximately 12 special sections each year. They often coincide with major campus events, including Homecoming, bowl games and the start of the basketball season.

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Dec 5, 2007

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