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Marketing Students Gain Real-World Experience in the Classroom

November 17, 2008

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Students in marketing group

From left, Bryan Jolliver, Karina Kholodova, William Kim, and Amanda Fields discuss the marketing plan. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

You won’t find any textbooks or exams in Don Purdy’s marketing class, but you will find the essential business skills that can’t be learned from a book.  The 21 students in BMKT 432, Integrated Marketing Communications, go to their classroom every Wednesday, not for a class, but for a staff meeting.

The course is run as an engagement for an in-class marketing communication agency; Pinnacle Marketing Group to be exact.  The unique design of the class provides students with real-world experience by working with actual clients who hire them to design marketing plans for their businesses.  This semester Julie Purdy, a motivational speaker, life coach, and intuitive counselor, is a client of the firm.  She was on campus Nov. 5 to speak about the real reasons behind our economic meltdown and the steps we can take to ensure happiness, success, and abundance now, regardless of the national climate.

“We are out there interacting in the real world, with real clients, getting real publicity, and helping Julie reach her target markets,” said Amanda Fields, the head of the public relations unit in the class.  Fields, a senior from Coram, N.Y., is majoring in management and marketing.

The Integrated Marketing Communications course was designed to provide students with hands-on experience in their field of study.  By working with actual clients they have bridged the gap between industry and education.  The class is led by two account managers and organized into seven departments:  Public Relations, Creative Services, Finance, Direct Marketing, Media, Research, and Production.  Students choose the department they want to be in, giving them the chance to do work specifically geared toward their interests and to give them a glimpse of what it entails.  The departments work in an integrated fashion to research, develop, and present a marketing communications plan for their client.

Amanda Fields heads the public relations unit.

Amanda Fields heads the public relations unit. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

In the past, BMKT 432 has worked with prominent clients such as the U.S. Navy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The class's focus was to promote the career opportunities of each organization to UAlbany students.  Every semester the class has a different client, whom they work for over the entire term.

“Without exception, our clients have unquestionably been pleased by the work of my student agency members,” said School of Business lecturer Don Purdy, who has taught the class for almost 11 years.  “Our clients have had nothing but glowing remarks about the student agency members’ work after their presentations during the final meeting.”  Besides teaching business courses, Purdy is also the acting director of the Weekend MBA Program.

This fall, Pinnacle Marketing researched Julie Purdy’s target market and worked diligently to publicize her presentation on campus as well as crafting both short- and long-term strategies to expand her practice.  Purdy’s talk was the first step toward her long-term goal of delivering motivational speeches to large audiences.  As it was her first time speaking to a crowd of that size, the event allowed her to gain experience and receive feedback.

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