Tracy Draksler Brown and David Salisbury join Missouri School of Journalism strategic communication faculty

David Salisbury, Tracy Draksler Brown

By Austin Fitzgerald

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Jan. 11, 2024) — The Missouri School of Journalism welcomes two new strategic communication professors to campus this January. Tracy Draksler Brown, BJ ’00, and David Salisbury join the School as assistant professional practice professors and will teach their first courses in the upcoming spring semester.

“Together, Tracy and David bring more than 35 years of on-the-job experience in strategic communication, allowing them to take students beyond theory by sharing their real-world knowledge,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “This makes them ideal instructors and mentors for students experiencing the Missouri Method of hands-on learning.”

Tracy Draksler Brown

Tracy Draksler Brown
Tracy Draksler Brown

Brown, an alum of the School of Journalism, has spent more than 20 years in leadership positions at marketing agencies in Chicago and St. Louis. As an expert in strategy and account management, her experience is not tied to any one medium and spans the entirety of the marketing funnel.

“I’ve been working in the industry for my entire career, so it’s a pivot for me to apply that professional experience in an academic setting, and I’m pretty excited about it,” Brown said.

During the spring semester, she will teach courses in audience persuasion, foundational principles of strategic communication and AdZou, the professional advertising agency that serves as a capstone course for seniors to create research-driven ad campaigns for real clients. While AdZou did not exist in 2000, Brown did participate in a similar capstone course for her senior year, in which she worked on building tourism for the City of Ashland, Missouri.

Her new position marks her return to the School that first set her on the path of strategic communication. As a student, she initially planned to study magazine writing, but the curriculum’s emphasis on cross-training exposed her to an advertising course, sparking a passion that led to handling campaigns for well-known consumer brands like Gatorade, Blue Bunny, American Express and Smucker’s pet food and snacks brand portfolio.

“I fell in love with those first advertising classes that I took — I loved the psychology of it, the element of persuasion and figuring out how to overcome consumer barriers,” Brown said. “That led me into the career I ultimately picked.”

Now, in a teaching role, she is eager to pay it forward and provide the kind of memorable experience that she recalls from Don Ranly, then the head of the magazine program, and Birgit Wassmuth, who taught a design-focused advertising course. She recalls her instructors’ openness to dialogue with students and hopes to create her own positive impacts on the future workforce.

“When I’ve been on campus and had experiences with the students, I’ve found myself inspired by them and their enthusiasm for the industry,” Brown said. “I’m excited about the opportunity for mutual inspiration.”

David Salisbury

David Salisbury
David Salisbury

Salisbury comes to the School with 13 years of creative copywriting experience in advertising and public relations, including a stint developing campaigns in Hong Kong. Like Brown, he has a taste for leadership and mentorship, having led a team of 17 writers in New York for Brooklyn-based agency Madwell.

Salisbury’s career makes him a natural fit not only for the hands-on practice of the Missouri Method, but for the community impact focus of the School as a whole. He prides himself on a diverse resume that includes work for powerhouse brands like Citibank, UBS and IBM, alongside small-town community organizations with different perspectives.

“I’ve never had clients more grateful than the community bank in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where people would say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to use my face on the print ad? I’m going to be in the paper?” Salisbury said. “I love that experience, too.”

Salisbury — his friends call him “Steak” — brings an exuberant and playful energy that is reflected in his approach to strategic communication, which prizes a collaborative approach, creative experimentation and “big swings.”

Part of that approach came from one of his formative experiences with mentorship, in which Madwell’s then-copy director Laura Etheredge taught him to lead with empathy by nurturing a supportive and inclusive work environment — an attitude that has much in common with former Yum! Brands CEO David Novak’s philosophy of “taking people with you,” a leadership approach championed by the School’s Novak leadership Institute.

In becoming a leader and mentor himself, first in the advertising industry and now as a teacher, Salisbury has found that he enjoys passing that wisdom on to others.

“Mentorship is another exercise in building things,” he said. “You’re not building a campaign, you’re building a team. You’re helping build someone’s career.”

Salisbury earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism in 2010. This spring, he will be teaching courses on strategic writing and design as well as AdZou.

Updated: January 11, 2024

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