First Week Thoughts

With snow finally deciding to stick to everything in sight, my final semester as an undergraduate is underway, and I am finding many different ways to apply the skills I have developed over the last several years to the workplace. The critical thinking and writing skills that I have developed in my English and writing intensive courses are proving themselves practical in my role as a marketing intern.

My duties as an intern for the Duquesne Summer Writing Camp have begun, and so far, I have spent the majority of my time planning and preparing for the marketing campaign to come. My ultimate goal is to ensure that as many students as possible hear about the program through the wide variety of outlets we have access to. The camp may not start for the students until June, but there are a ton of behind the scenes tasks to be completed in the months to follow. Hearing the amount of work that goes into making this summer program happen has given me a new-found sense of appreciation for the staff members of summer camps I attended years ago.

Over the last week or so my advisor, Professor John Fried, and I discussed different ways of marketing the camp to teenagers and their parents, as well as the challenges associated with reaching each group. The program is relatively selective, and the number of students attending each year is small. However, its success lies in getting enough students know about the program for it to grow. The conversation reminded me of discussions in various Fiction writing courses on the importance of remembering your audience when developing a piece. The same challenge is present when developing a strategic marketing plan.  Prior to this internship, I have held various other marketing positions, but never one where the primary audience was teenagers and their parents. I quickly realized appealing to this group would bring about its own sets of challenges.

After some thought, I developed several potential flyers for distribution to multiple local schools, libraries, and other points of interest around the city. My advisor and I ultimately decided upon the flyer that was the simplest in design. We did so after factoring in how its clean appearance and neutral colors would draw the attention of a wider range of students without losing the interest of parents who may encounter it. The content of the text was just as important as the design, and several rough drafts later, the final version was sent off to print. The experience of creating several drafts with slight variations reinforced my understanding of the importance of editing and how subtle changes can make, or break, a campaign.

The final design of the promotional flyer

I also worked on constructing a list of cost-effective advertising spaces. The camp already has several social media accounts that I plan to utilize, as well as a website, but just posting images of the flyer is not enough. I decided to turn to Facebook groups in the surrounding area to appeal to the parent population of Pittsburgh. I ended up creating a list of 25 potential groups to share the program in. These groups range from “Pittsburgh Moms Connect” to “Parents of Pittsburgh Public Schoolers.” I was a little surprised to find so many virtual communities with similar missions, but I expect these groups to serve as vital platforms for promoting the program to a wide range of parents in the Pittsburgh region.

So far, my work has entailed a lot of planning and strategizing, and I am looking forward to putting these plans into action. I am extremely excited for the journey that lies ahead, and I couldn’t imagine spending my final semester doing anything else. I am interested in seeing how the skills cultivated in my English courses continue to apply throughout the experience, and I am looking forward to contributing to a very successful program!

                                                                                                Catherine Evans

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