MarketingStudents 2014Marketing students are often challenged to come up with a full marketing campaign, but three UAB senior marketing students have teamed together to do this without the promise of a grade.

“Developing a marketing campaign in a classroom is totally different than actually having to implement it in the real world,” John Reichle said.

“Knowing your message is going to affect people is much better,” Jaala Shelwood said.

Reichle, Shelwood and Rami Elsharif are working with Karen Kennedy, Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Business, to create a campuswide marketing campaign for the new Quality Enhancement Plan. A QEP is a requirement of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, designed to improve an aspect of student learning and enhance the quality of higher education. “Learning in a team environment” will be UAB’s second QEP; the first emphasized writing, quantitative literacy, ethics and civic responsibility.  

“We had a very short timeline at the end of the spring term, and I asked our advisers to recommend students who were available for the summer and who had interests in working on this live marketing project that would be highly visible on campus,” Kennedy said. “Laura Tull [adviser for the Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics] strongly recommended these three students.”

Kennedy said it was clear from the start — to her and the steering committee — that students needed to be involved in the development of the communications plan, which would be aimed at students.

“Working on a live case that requires strategic thinking and tactical implementation is a terrific opportunity for students,” Kennedy said. “Many times students may get involved in either the planning or execution, but the opportunity to do both is a great learning experience. They are learning much about other parts of campus and interacting with communications professionals and groups of students they did not even know existed — such as postdoctoral students. They will be presenting to the university steering committee and getting feedback on their work, which also adds to the breadth of their experiences.”

Changing perception

The team met with a cross-section of students to hear their concerns about learning in a team environment, most of which focused on bad experiences, Shelwood said.

“It’s important for us to focus on their concerns and help them understand that teamwork is not always bad,” Shelwood said.

“This campaign is our one shot to introduce students to the QEP,” Elsharif said. “Without a proper introduction, students will be unaware of what the QEP is trying to accomplish, which is counterproductive.”

Working together on the campaign has given these three students a more positive view on teamwork.

“Working on this is an experience with a good team. We’re a good team,” Shelwood said. “I know a lot of students — ourselves included — have had horrible experiences with teamwork. That was one of our biggest concerns when we started this plan. We were focused on how we could overcome the stigma that teamwork is horrible. I think our ability to work so well as a team has helped us.”

The students are crafting language to use in physical signage and social media marketing. Shelwood said the group has a large list of ideas they will be presenting to the QEP steering committee.

“We’re going to do as much as the steering committee will let us do,” Shelwood said. “You never know what medium will reach what group of people, so we’re trying to cover all of the bases.”

The team has been working together since May and has met regularly with Kennedy. Reichle said working with Kennedy has been rewarding.

“She has such great experience,” Reichle said. “You don’t always get that one-on-one time with professors.”

Elsharif feels the experience from working on this project will help him transition into his professional career.

“I'm getting a feel for what it's like to do marketing research and put together a campaign,” Elsharif said. “This opportunity has allowed me to gain firsthand experience that I can't get from the classroom.”

More information about the QEP can be found online.