Emerson College organizes several professional development events that serve as venues for its students to hone their skillsets and discover opportunities that will boost their careers after graduating from the college. These activities are meant to compliment what is learned in the four walls of the classroom, as well as push students to think and learn out of the box. Connecting the dots of knowledge and theory to practical application. One such event is the annual New York Connection: Graduate Students 2012 (NY Connection).
NY Connection is a yearly opportunity for interested students to go to New York City for a two-day event. This year, it was held from March 29-30. On the first night of the trip, graduate students were able to meet with Emerson alumni who are based and working in the city. This networking activity allowed both alumni and current students to interact and discuss how professional life is like in New York. Moreover, possible job opportunities and career advice were also laid out on the table. The second day of the event was dedicated to visiting several companies where Emerson alumni worked. Students were able to choose two sites, which they believed were in line with their professional path. My personal experience of connecting the dots was grounded on visiting Horizon Media and Lippincott.
Horizon Media is the largest independent media company in the world. Using intensive market research, it creates meaningful connections between brands and its consumers through effective media plans that are executed well and efficiently. It specializes in trade and barter, sports entertainment, event marketing and direct marketing. Its clientele includes well-known brands like Geico, CapitalOne, Google, Dish, United, Kraft Foods and Little Caesar’s. While it is headquartered in New York City, it also has offices in Los Angeles, Miami and San Diego. It has also been awarded as US Media Agency of the Year in 2011, and also named one of AdAge’s top 10 Best Places to Work in 2012.
Together with other IMC and GMCA (Global Marketing Communication and Advertising) students, I visited Horizon Media to meet with Laura Ashton and Shondra Temple both Emerson College alumni who completed the GMCA program in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Laura is currently working as a Consumer Insights Strategist, while Shondra is a Brand Strategy Supervisor. They are both working on separate accounts, but have been with the organization for more than five years.
We learned that Horizon Media’s differentiating factor aside from being an independent media company is that it makes business personal. The whole organization works towards making the brand experience meaningful to its consumers. This is where consumer, channel and brand insight, coupled with creative solutions, come into play. They also do collaborative work with clients and advertising and marketing agencies to make very effective campaigns. While it is pretty obvious in our classroom setting that research plays a very important role in different segments of marketing, hearing it first hand from Laura and Shondra drove home the point even more. They walked us through some examples of the work that they do for clients, and we were amazed at how much research helps in the process of media planning. It’s not about just deciding on which spots to choose on TV and radio, or where to place outdoor collateral. It really is an art of understanding your consumer.
Being in the Horizon Media office also inspired and motivated a lot of the NY Connection participants – this is actually one organization that uses the skillsets that we are learning and developing in our graduate program. Laura and Shondra also shared their experiences of how they transitioned from Emerson’s GMCA program into their early years as Horizon Media brand strategists to the current roles they are in now. Their journey was driven by continuous learning and loving what they do.
Lippincott specializes in creating brand stories and memorable experiences that allows brands to emotionally connect with consumers. The organization equally leverages brand strategy and design to be able to craft strong emotional connections with target audiences. Moreover, Lippincott also highlights the importance of a solid brand in achieving long-term business goals. Their services include brand analytics, brand positioning and portfolio strategy, brand design, and brand activation management. It works with a wide variety of clients like Walmart, Starbucks, United, Delat, Chevron, Hyatt, McDonald’s and Comcast. The organization has six global offices, including Hong Kong, London and Paris.
We met Kevin Jasmin, an IMC graduate (2005-2007), who is now currently an associate at Lippincott, specializing in design. He was joined by colleagues Jessica Tief and Wendy Tsang. The Lippincott experience began with its brief history in developing corporate identities, and later on building strong and meaningful brands. We looked into how the team works on crafting brand messages based on strategy and brought to life through design. This was materialized as we went through some case studies of projects that the team worked on. We learned that creating solutions to brand challenges really does encompass several stages that could take a few days to a few weeks to a few months. The branding process is, indeed, very meticulous. It is a collaborative process where strategists and designers work with clients and their agencies to develop and strengthen their brands.
What I learned from Lippincott is that the brand is really the heart of the business – not its products and/or services. The brand is what consumers connect with, and it is what they choose to buy in order to create or maintain an identity. Lippincott creates that connection – the personal point where the brand reaches out to the consumer and says, “we are a perfect fit.” Again, this is something that is studied and discussed in the classroom setting, but once seen in real world examples, we realize that what is ahead of us as marketing professionals is indeed a world full of excitement and endless possibilities. Tomorrow’s creative breakthroughs will be on our generation’s hands.
Kevin was also very open about how his IMC degree at Emerson really honed his skills and strategic thinking. An education at Emerson prepared him for the career he wanted. One of his pieces of advice was to think of what we wanted to achieve in the next five years, set a goal and work your way towards that. We just have to keep the eye on the ball.
Connecting the dots is not just the game we play as kids with a “mission” to make sure every single dot is linked to another one. Connecting the dots, I believe, is something we do every day and at every point of our lives. It may be something that we link on our own – the decision to take a graduate degree, the decision to take up marketing because we want to be professionals at it. It may also be something that is presented as an avenue to link theory to practical application. It may also be the opportunity of seeing what is out there, of seeing what we want to achieve in the next five years, and of seeing what we can contribute to the field.