Gregory Scholars team: Top row (left to right): Jami Robben, Emma Grant, Morgan Mizouni, Davin Ahuja, Abby Werner; Bottom row (left to right): Julia Patterson, Gabriella Salinas
Columbia, Mo. (July 20, 2022) — More than 100 students at the Missouri School of Journalism gained hands-on experience during their spring semester developing advertising campaigns for various clients. As part of AdZou — the School’s professional ad agency that serves as a capstone course for graduating seniors — the students were divided into 17 teams that worked on 12 different projects for nine total clients. Each project presented unique challenges and opportunities.
Projects included work on national campaigns, like for FOX Sports developing a campaign for The FIFA Women’s World Cup, to a statewide campaign for the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association to local businesses, like All Star Automotive.
“This spring semester was the first one in two years that students were back to working with clients completely in person and not virtually,” said Holly Higginbotham, associate professor. “I think both instructors and students were glad to be back in a classroom to tackle the extensive work involved in putting together a complete campaign for a client.”
Several of the spring clients were from the University of Missouri community, including the J-School’s Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism and Dr. Shelly Rodgers, professor and the Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair in Journalism Research.
Rodgers tasked three AdZou teams totaling 20 students with three projects related to the Gregory Chair’s work:
- Building the reputation of the School’s Gregory Chair: this team conducted national research to form recommendations for building upon the School’s Gregory Chair’s public persona and national reputation.
- Promoting the Gregory survey; the team analyzed national surveys to identify insight gaps in the advertising and public relations industries and recommend strategies for promoting and branding the survey.
- Implementing the new Gregory Scholars program: this team came up with a plan to recruit students to, and communicate the benefits of ,being a Gregory Scholar and promoting the work they will do.
Through each of these projects, Rodgers’ hopes to elevate the research being done in the J-School, especially at the undergraduate level.
“I wanted to be very thoughtful in approaching the Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair and I thought the best thing in the world that could be done was to start at the beginning. So, I ended up hiring three AdZou teams to take on the three different aspects of the Gregory,” said Rodgers. “It was really a difficult task because it’s kind of intangible when we talk about generational knowledge, but they just went to town.”
The AdZou projects provided the members of the teams with the opportunity to conduct professional research as undergraduate students. Through their research, the students gained experience in matters that are front and center in the advertising and public relations industries.
“It was the first time I could apply everything that I’ve learned from my strategic communication classes to something useful, so that was really fun. It definitely made me more organized and collaborative, too,” said Davin Ahuja, who was the media planner on the Gregory Scholars team. “I’m so glad I did it. It’s so beneficial for interviewing and I know that it’s something applicable to what I’m going to do professionally.”
Collaboration between the teams was vital to the success of their projects. Their willingness to work together and the resulting performance of their work impressed not only their client, but their instructor as well.
“There was a lot of collaboration that went on between the three teams,” said Todd Fuller, the adjunct instructor who led the three teams. “They were invested in the project, and I think they did the most important things a team can do. I think they did an excellent job keeping a strong line of communication between themselves and the client and I think they did an excellent job with the final presentation to the client as well.”
The three teams gave their final presentations to Rodgers in early May. Based on their research and recommendations, Rodgers is already planning her strategic approach to raising the profile of the Gregory Chair.
“They gave us a presentation and they gave us raw data. What we have now is an overarching strategy,” said Rodgers. “I’ve already started going back through the raw data to try to understand the bigger picture. It’s like a little gold mine. It’s going to be very useful in long term planning.”
Updated: July 21, 2022