I can’t believe it’s mid October and … even scarier, it is midway through the semester! It’s been fun but it is moving fast!
One thing that has made this semester so fun and rewarding is our brand new COMM 470 Strategic Campaigns class in the Department of Communication at Shepherd University that I had the opportunity of adding to our curriculum.
This class works with a real world client to teach students how to build a strategic campaign. Hands on learning and real world experiences are some of the most valuable opportunities we can provide our students, particularly those that are upper division. When looking for class project clients, I always look for local prosocial organizations filled with passionate people who are truly dedicated to improving their community. That sort of passion and excitement is infectious to me and the students. And the people behind our client this year are most certainly that! We have an amazing client this semester.
We’re working with Discover Downtown Charles Town (DDCT) and its social media outreach Charles Town Now. DDCT is an entirely volunteer-run nonprofit aimed at promoting the revitalization of the small town of Charles Town, West Virginia.
You may have heard of Van Applegate and Charles Town Now from the widely popular “This Guy Promotes an Entire Town Online” article in Small Business Trends, or seen Van on ABC 7. Charles Town Now has a great Facebook and Twitter account and hashtag campaign #StartCT.
Our class has been so impressed by what they have achieved and the passion and dedication people like Van Applegate and Patrick Blood have accomplished for Charles Town already.
Our class has 3 goals for the campaigns they are developing (students work in teams, each team creating their own campaign; we have 2 teams):
- Help articulate the Charles Town Now brand and what its mission is
- Raise awareness of Charles Town Now and its mission among local businesses and community stakeholders such as the town council.
- Get local businesses to buy into Charles Town Now’s efforts to assist downtown Charles Town businesses to expand and grow.
Since our concentration here in the department emphasizes social media, we hope to help Charles Town Now grow and enhance their online efforts. But that doesn’t necessarily mean social media alone – we are seeking not to simply recreate what they’ve already done well but to create communication across digital and “analog” 🙂 that will leverage what they are doing.
The benefit of working with groups like this, is that the project becomes more than simply an exercise for students to learn how to put a campaign together. The work they do is work the client is seeking help with and, as I tell my students, if they do great work there is a high likelihood the client will use their work. That means, the students have a real opportunity to help grow and shape the economy here in West Virginia.
I’ve spent countless hours myself thinking of ways to get involved and improve Charles Town, and have increased the time I spend in Charles Town supporting local businesses (I live in a neighboring town).
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and thanks for sharing my other syllabi. So I will be sure to share my Campaigns syllabus here soon and hope to keep you all apprised of our class project as we go along this semester.
What tips do you have for choosing and working with clients?