Missouri School of Journalism Students Gain Hands-On Experience Working for Fee-Based Clients

Spring 2019 AdZou Campaigns

In the enduring Missouri Method tradition of learning-by-doing, strategic communication seniors spent the spring 2019 semester working at AdZou developing fully-fleshed-out, research-based, creative marketing and advertising campaigns for 18 local and regional fee-based clients.

AdZou’s Impact? $5,000 in One Day.

By Jennifer Nelson

Columbia, Mo. (May 17, 2019) — Twenty-eight teams consisting of 211 strategic communication seniors from the Missouri School of Journalism tackled creative marketing and advertising campaigns for 18 local and regional clients this semester as part of AdZou, the School’s fully-integrated strategic communication agency.

The seven- to eight-person capstone teams helped clients including Boone Hospital Center, MU School of Law and the Southeast Missourian with their marketing and advertising needs as part of the student-staffed advertising and marketing agency. Client goals ranged from educating those 50 years old and older about the dangers of tick bites to attracting audiences to watch boxing on Fox Sports. Organizations could hire one team or multiple teams for multiple ideas.

The students began the semester-long projects by spending seven to eight weeks conducting research to learn more about the consumers the client wished to reach and what messages resonate with them. The remainder of the semester was then devoted to developing a creative campaign with all kinds of ideas – some as small as refrigerator magnets to larger ideas using augmented reality experiences. Their campaign ideas were then packaged into printed plan books and a final client presentation.

A Closer Look at a Few Spring 2019 AdZou Projects

The Southeast Missourian newspaper in Cape Girardeau tasked a team with coming up with ways to increase digital subscriptions and gain more email opt-ins. Working on this campaign provided team member and designer Zach Everett of Portland, Oregon, the opportunity to see how different jobs within an agency work together to create a product, he said.

“We talked about the unique duties of these different positions a lot in the journalism prerequisites and introductory [strategic communication] class, but it never truly clicked for me until I was tasked with using research to develop creative tactics or needed to work with the account executive to communicate with the client,” he said. “You really get a big-picture look at how an agency team operates and how your specific skill set fits into a much larger effort to satisfy the client’s request.”

The Southeast Missourian plans to use many of the AdZou team’s ideas, which included subscription special promotions and Facebook ads. In fact, the newspaper implemented one new idea the team came up with within 24 hours of viewing the team’s presentation and pulled in $5,000 in revenue through a partnership, said Jon Rust, publisher of the newspaper and co-president of Rust Communications.

“The AdZou presentation and report created great food for thought, affirming our direction in some areas, and in others causing us to rethink previous plans and dig deeper,” said Rust. “The students also generated several new ideas that weren’t already on our radar.”

Soon-to-launch, home-based business Lucky Silver Fox, which specializes in sending care packages, asked a team to conduct market research to determine the best target audience and reach that audience. Among their ideas were fliers and social media marketing.

Owner Jennifer Anderson said she appreciated having the help of others.

“When you start a business you don’t always get 40 hours carved out for you to work on it,” she said. “It’s just adding something to what you’re already doing. To me it was very appealing to have a group of people to look at what I am doing and then help research it.”

She said she also appreciated the differing viewpoints: “Sometimes when you work on a project, I find you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing that you overlook something that’s obvious to somebody else because, in your mind, you’ve already thought of a solution, or you went in a completely different direction and just didn’t realize something was missing.”

Since the business is so new, the team members said they had a lot of creative freedom starting from scratch, said Laura Petruzzi of Houston. This posed some challenges, too, she said.

“We had a huge opportunity to create something really cool without a lot of rigid guidelines,” she said. “There were times when we weren’t completely sure if we were going in the right direction, but we trusted our instincts and it ended up working out great – and I think our research and campaign shows that.”

For smaller clients like Lucky Silver Fox, AdZou was also a more affordable option than traditional agencies, said Anderson.

“One of the advantages of AdZou is that it offers local and nonprofit clients the opportunity to really have a fleshed-out campaign for a fraction of the cost that they would pay a professional agency,” said associate professor Holly Higginbotham, co-director of AdZou. “For those clients who don’t have a huge advertising budget, we are a really great alternative.”

About AdZou

AdZou is based on the “Missouri Method” of learning by doing. Directed by public relations, advertising and marketing professionals, graduating seniors work in small teams to bring fresh perspectives to their research-based campaigns for real fee-based companies or organizations.

Updated: November 10, 2020

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