Monday, December 29, 2014

What Lowe's and NASCAR taught our students

I'm a professor at Appalachian State University and an advisor to the Communication Department Advertising Club. Too often, our meetings become mundane and we plod through announcements and other tasks that become part of club activity. We decided to break out of that pattern and what transpired next led to engaging learning experiences for our students.
I reached out to a former ASU communication grad, who is now Managing Director of Team Services at the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) headquarters in Charlotte. Chad Seigler offered to have our group meet with his key staff and also tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame. After the NASCAR visit, we traveled to see Sam Bass (below) at his illustration and design studio.
The learning opportunities were tangible and practical. We saw the real-time social media aggregator room at NASCAR; Sam Bass helped our students better understand how to negotiate a design concept with a client.
Our next field trip was yesterday (November 14) to Lowe's Home Improvement corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC. And it was another exceptional day. Advertising pros Brad Stephens, Matt Mitchell, Liz Coudriet and Stephen Comer gave us half a day and unpacked the essentials of being successful on the corporate side. Some examples are Matt's work with BBDO in New York on TV spots and Liz's 6-second "How To" videos, specifically produced for social media distribution on Vine.
I find deep satisfaction in the interactions between our students and these sport and advertising executives. Giving students access to presentations on field trips allows them to observe how to express ideas and verbalize key points. Our hosts are gracious and when students ask questions, they validate them by offering thoughtful and complete answers. That's huge.
I have a secret to share: Professors don't know it all. If we don't stay attached and connected to our "real world" counterparts, we lose touch. I am thankful and grateful to our wonderful hosts, who invested in us, and our students. You can expect to read about more field trip experiences from the ASU advertising club in the near future.

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