The Communication Plan Aims to Increase Utilization of Services
By Rebecca Dell
The health center is implementing the students’ recommendations mere months after receiving them earlier this spring. A visible element of the plan, a new logo, is already on the Pettis County Health Center’s Facebook page, polo shirts, stationery, name tags, advertisements and more. A well-developed communication strategy guides the implementation and timing of advertising and public relations ideas.
It all started with a chance meeting at a conference between JoAnn Martin, the Health Center’s administrator, and Jon Stemmle, assistant professor of strategic communication and co-director of the Health Communication Research Center at the School.
Martin told Stemmle that the center had underutilized healthcare services. Pettis County has a population of approximately 42,000 people and is located about an hour west of Columbia.
“I shared with him my search for assistance with updating our logo, materials and enhancing the understanding of our community what public health does,” Martin said. “He told me about the AdZou program. The program and price met our needs.”
AdZou is the largest capstone class in the strategic communication area with more than 200 students going through the program each academic year. Each class is typically made up of 18 students divided into three teams of six and coached by a communication professional. Students in each team are given roles based on the classes they’ve taken and internship experiences they’ve had, ranging from account executive (team leader) and account planner to graphic designer and social media specialist. As a team, they run through the campaign from research to the creative brief to the final presentation.
One of the first challenges for the spring 2013 campaign team was the weather. A big snowfall delayed the students’ first trip to Sedalia, the county seat. But, they were soon able to travel to the area to interview health center employees and community members as well as get a first-hand look at the area.
“The research is probably one of the most valuable things that all the clients get,” Stemmle said.
The AdZou team then used their findings to develop a comprehensive communication plan. Team leader Tony Billmeyer said their goal was to create a strategy that would have a real long-term impact for Pettis County.
The students had strong ideas but also had a tight restraint: The client had a proposed budget of $500-1,000.
“We really had to think creatively,” said Dana Schuermann, a member of the creative team.
Schuermann designed a new logo based on the shape of Pettis County: four interlocking outlines of the area, arranged in a diamond shape, with a gentle teal-blue-green-and-yellow color palette. She also created the plan book that the students provided to the health center.
“We wanted to show connectivity to the community, to the health center,” Schuermann said. “Then we came up with this idea of having the four pillars, with each one represented by a color in the logo.”
The AdZou students’ work was well received by the client – and on budget. The cost estimate for the entire campaign came out to $1,007.
“I have shared the plan and materials developed with professionals in the marketing field and all thought the work to be of high quality,” Martin said.
Billmeyer, now a traffic coordinator at AbelsonTaylor, an agency in Chicago that serves health and wellness accounts, said the AdZou team was thrilled the plan they delivered to the Pettis County Health Center. The rest of the team members also graduated in May and are now working around the world. Schuermann is communications director at L2DCreative in St. Louis. Caitlin Davis is an assistant account executive for FleishmanHillard in Hong Kong. Jim Grundy is a board operator and assistant producer at Union Broadcasting in Overland Park, Kan. Megan Huey is an account administrator for Intouch Solutions in Kansas City, Mo. Courtney Lewis is the social media editor at Newsy in Columbia, Mo. Katherine Weider is an account coordinator at Moosylvania in Maplewood, Mo.
“It’s great that our work doesn’t end up in a recycle bin, but it’s even better that we provided our client with real value,” Billmeyer said.
AdZou is one of two student-staffed agencies creating real campaigns for real clients. MOJO Ad focuses on the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) for big brands. Recent clients include Hallmark, Walmart, AOL, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society, among many others.
Updated: August 15, 2019