A Semester in Review

Well, it’s that time of year again. The brutally bipolar spring season of the Midwest is drawing to a close, and summer is looming on the horizon. Yet, academic freedom is still very much out-of-reach. With project deadlines and finals week quickly approaching, these next three weeks are sure to be hectic. However, in retrospective the sleeplessness and stress that is about to ensue over the remaining sliver of the school year seems relatively insignificant compared to what I have done this past semester. At the beginning of the semester, I outlined some specific goals to tackle. I believed by accomplishing these I would be able to greatly improve my résumé, and hopefully land an internship for the summer. Fortunately enough, I was able to do just that.

My primary objective for this semester was to build my advertising and graphic design portfolio. With an empty portfolio and a relatively blank résumé, scoring an internship (or even an interview for that matter) at the time was simply unrealistic. Thus, I was extremely excited to begin creating advertising campaigns under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Jeff Maciejewski, in JRM 347. Throughout the semester, I created print and billboard ads for Husqvarna, Badlands National Park, and the Crescent Moon Ale House located on 36th and Farnam. The process in fact turned out to be far more complex than I expected – it included extensive research, concise creative briefs, and straightforward in-class critiques. At this point in the course, we are now in the revision stage. After fine-tuning my copy and visuals, I am confident I will have a solid collection of ads to begin my portfolio.

HQ_alternateAside from school and my part-time job, I also served as the Creighton men’s basketball graphic design assistant. This role allowed me to produce game-day infographics for the team’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, which actually turned out to be far more rewarding than I expected. As a diehard college basketball fan, I thoroughly enjoyed producing promotional work for a thriving team headed by the man himself, Doug McDermott. More importantly, this position allowed me to compile over a dozen graphic design examples for my portfolio. Although I have been swamped with class projects lately, I plan on redesigning some recruitment materials this summer. I hope that I can keep this position for the remainder of my time here at Creighton. That being said, I am very pleased that I took advantage of this opportunity, and I look forward to the doors it may open down the road.

Marquette

Yet above all, I learned the most from my JRM 327 Social Media course taught by Dr. Zuegner (I promise I’m not just brownnosing). To be honest, I was not excited to take this class. It’s required for my track of study, and I decided to just get it over with this semester. Personally, I think the course name is misleading – maybe tack the word “marketing”, “journalism”, or “communications” on the end to make it sound more official. But that’s not the point. Much to my surprise, I actually learned way, way, way more than I expected. My perception of social media and its variety of purposes was significantly altered. I knew social media was on the rise; but I had no idea the amount of possibilities it brought to the business world. In class we discussed networking, personal branding, content marketing, SEO, social media policies and plans, effective strategies, ethics, tons of platforms I had never heard of, and much more – all of which I found intriguing and unique. I watched my online presence grow as I became active on several other platforms, especially Linkedin. The weekly blog assignments provided a structured writing schedule that helped me put together a collection of relevant samples I could share with prospective employers. Ultimately, it was my understanding of the information from this course and my blog that led me to be offered by both B2 Interactive and Nuvem Consulting to be each respective company’s content marketing intern. While my advertising and design portfolio received positive feedback, it definitely was overpowered by my understanding of social media, content marketing, and blogging.

All in all, this semester has been a true success. My once nonexistent portfolio is now stacked with samples of work; I landed not one, but two awesome internship offers because of a class I initially didn’t want to take; and I am also about to finish building my personal website for my web design class. Unfortunately, I still need to bottle my excitement a bit longer while I grind out the remaining projects and final exams that will surely control the last few weeks of my sophomore year.

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The Rise of Content Marketing

Last week in JRM 327 we were privileged to listen to Creighton grad Danny Schreiber speak about his content marketing work at Zapier. Considering I’ve applied for several content marketing internships for this summer (which to be honest has snuck up on me like some demonic spirit out of Paranormal Activity), Danny could not have come at a more perfect time. After providing us with some background information, Danny highlighted the distinct differences between journalism and content marketing. With experience in both of these fields as well as the Creighton degree that is forever engraved on his LinkedIn account (paper résumés are on their way out anyways), Danny was clearly a credible source. In his own words, content marketing differs from journalism in that it is “measured extensively, promoted exhaustively, and SEO’d meticulously.” Yet more importantly, he outlined seven steps to producing a content marketing platform that is unique, measurable, and successful.

1)   Identify a specific topic.
2)   Determine different types of content to use.
3)   Search for ways to weave promotional material within content.
4)   Set up a simple editorial schedule.
5)   Measure gains and losses.
6)   Promote again.
7)   Always look for ways to do more.

In order to better understand what each of these steps mean, I did a little research about this budding business tactic. In essence, content marketing blends marketing, journalism, and technology to engage with customers without blatantly pestering them with traditional sales techniques. I now present to you my three favorite content marketing campaigns that I have stumbled across.

1)   Charmin: SitOrSquat

When you have to go, you have to go. Just a simple fact of life. Thanks to Charmin’s quirky app, the search for respectable public restrooms in the most trying of circumstances is no more. SitOrSquat allows you to locate and review restrooms so you can enjoy taking care of business in a cleanly manor. It even connects you to Facebook in order to maximize interaction, although I must admit I probably don’t want everyone knowing I need an app to make it to the loo.

Image from blog.clientheartbeat.com

Image from blog.clientheartbeat.com

2)   Orabrush Tongue Cleaner: Bad Breath Test

Although I find the spokesperson for this video to resemble an annoying knock-off of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, I cannot deny that he does an excellent job in proving the purpose of a bland product with seemingly limited potential. The Orabrush is used to polish your tongue, and thus eliminate the true source of foul breath. That being said, I know several people who will be receiving an Orabrush from yours truly this holiday season.

Image form wired.com

Image form wired.com

3)   DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades are F***ing Great

Shaving sucks. I hate it, especially considering my razors grow dull with ease as I peel my pathetic attempt at “facial hair” off my baby face twice a week. Fortunately, DollarShaveClub.com has got my back. It delivers high-quality razors to your doorstep for as little as $1 a month. And this video – well, it’s hilarious to say the least. In fact, I am seriously considering making an investment in DollarShaveClub.com to help out my bank account.

Image from thenoobdad.com

Image from thenoobdad.com

These three examples, all of which are funny, fresh, and feasible in their own respective ways, helped me to better understand Danny’s presentation on content marketing. It also opened my eyes to the creative possibilities that can stem from something as simple as basic hygiene products. I truly look forward to learning more about content marketing as it continues to grow in popularity. Now excuse me while I go brush my tongue and trim my “sideburns” in the Harper Center restroom.

The Second-Coming of the Fab Five: An ESPN 30 for 30 in the Making?

Although March Madness never fails to live up to the hype of its name, this year’s season finale of college basketball has been especially… mad. And by mad, I mean it will forever be imprinted in my memory as the year of downright excessive insanity. So mad in fact, I am convinced there will be a documentary made somewhere down a road about one underdog contender that everybody, including myself, overlooked from the start. Now if you find yourself lunging from this tab to Google search “underdogs to make it the Final Four”, I’ll save you some time. Wichita State in 2013, VCU in 2011, and George Mason in 2006 (just to name a few). However, as you are about to find out, none of these teams have done it like this year’s eighth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats.

Jalen Rose. Chris Webber. Juwan Howard. Ray Jackson. Jimmy King. These five names compose the former greatest recruiting class in the history of college basketball – Michigan’s Fab Five.

Photo from elitedaily.com

Photo from elitedaily.com

Aaron Harrison. Andrew Harrison. James Young. Julius Randle. Dakari Johnson. Marcus Lee. These are the six names that compose the new greatest recruiting class in the history of college basketball – the 2013-14 Kentucky Wildcats.

Photo from nationofblue.com

Photo from nationofblue.com

As you may or may not know, the Fab Five’s claim to fame was reaching the Final Four with an all-freshmen starting lineup. Rightfully so, an ESPN 30 for 30 – one of the most respected series of sports documentaries around – was made years later to detail the Fab Five’s classic road to greatness. Having seen this documentary as well as Kentucky’s historical journey, I am now left wondering if this modern-day Kentucky “Fab Five” (which in my opinion should be dubbed something along the lines of the “Significant Six”) is worthy of better, worse, or the same treatment as the original Fab Five. While I was initially pro-Kentucky, I decided to do some digging. And I must say, the similarities are truly remarkable. Both Michigan, a six-seed, and Kentucky, an eight-seed, were considered underdogs due to their lack of experience and their difficult bracket drawings. In each of their respective paths to the Final Four, Michigan and Kentucky both defeated a no. 1 seed, as well each team’s rival opponent. Additionally, neither team blew out their opponents. All game were relatively close, making each victory just that much more triumphant.

So do the 2013-14 Kentucky Wildcats deserve an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary? My answer remains yes, but on one condition – that they do what Michigan didn’t by winning the national championship. If the Wildcats can accomplish that, there is not a doubt in my mind that this squad of teenage Wildcats will go down as the most successful recruiting class in the history of college basketball. But for the next 24 hours or so, that remains a mystery left unsolved.