Skype CAN be educational!

According to an article, published by Mashable.com, Skype launched a network in March 2011 specifically for teachers called: Skype in the Classroom. The teacher network now boasts 15,000 teachers worldwide sharing/collaborating projects and video-conferencing with other classes and professionals in their prospective fields. Tony Bates, the CEO of Skype, sat down with Mashable to discuss the impact that Skype in the Classroom has on education. His positive outlook of the teaching network emphasizes the importance of a video-conferencing tool in classrooms.

The article is particularly interesting because there are many positives that can come out of the teaching network. As the article mentioned, teachers are able to collaborate on school projects and share their work with others that would normally be inaccessible.  Skype in the Classroom is invaluable because it allows students to work with others and/or have personal experiences with various teachers and professors across the globe.  Specifically advertising/marketing classes can collaborate in more specific ways with the use of Skype. The platform can also enhance students’ learning and global perspective rather than restricting them to only one regional or national perspective.

It is important for educators from the advertising/marketing world to engage their students with this type of experiential learning.  It can also help students by providing them with a mode of connecting with industry professionals that would otherwise be out of reach.  Instructors should implement these professionals into their classroom instruction whenever possible to enrich classroom learning.  Additionally, teachers in all disciplines and fields should embrace this technology and innovate new ways to use the platform for better classroom engagement. This initiative is of great significance for education overall and even more for higher education. West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism would benefit from outside professional and academic collaboration. Personally, I would have enjoyed my advertising and communication classes more if Skype and other engaging platforms would have been used more often.

Integrated Marketing Communications – Is it for everyone?

Integrated Marketing Communication is a marketing model that encompasses building consumer relationships with clear, consistent and impactful messages that are data-driven and consumer focused. The concept of IMC is to produce synergy among marketing efforts to influence and affect behavior in specific target audiences. There are five key features of IMC that effectively build an impactful marketing strategy.  First, all IMC efforts should be consumer focused.  Thus, marketers must acknowledge that consumers are in control and they must understand their attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. Since consumers are becoming increasingly fragmented, IMC is driven by consumer data and analysis. Secondly, all forms of potential contact must be used. Brands must be present where the consumer is; these touch points are always important, even if they are all not equally as engaging. Thirdly, all messages must be consistent and have a clear voice. This is where synergy comes into play. Uncoordinated messages will send an ambiguous message to consumers; coordinated and consistent messages will produce synergy. IMC seeks to build relationships with consumers. This fourth key feature is important because without it one may lose consumers. If you build strong relationships with consumers, the relationships will most likely last and be mutually beneficial. Last but not least, the fifth key feature of IMC is to influence and affect consumer behavior. Affecting behavior is the ultimate goal for any marketing communication strategy; if a desired behavior is not achieved, the strategy was then a failure.  Together, all five of these features produce maximum impact and synergy.

As an advertiser, it is important to embrace IMC because all communication efforts must be clear, consistent and impactful. If advertising efforts are inconsistent and unclear, messages will not be impactful. It is also important for advertisers to be individually consumer-focused rather than mass media focused so that they can segment audiences appropriately for greater engagement. It can be difficult to implement IMC without necessary diverse skills sets. It can cost additional money and human resources to effectively embrace and implement IMC; therefore, the agency must have approach IMC with an open mind.

Advertising agencies may encounter many problems that would impede their efforts of becoming a full IMC agency. First, as mentioned above, an agency may not have money resources to embrace IMC fully. Employees may not possess the skill-set or knowledge to effectively manage and implement IMC efforts. Consequently, agencies would need to resort to hiring more employees to execute IMC. An advertising agency most often will only execute a specific area of marketing communication efforts – advertising. With that said, it would be hard to implement IMC if an agency is only overseeing advertising efforts. Public relations, marketing and advertising specialists would need to be housed at the same agency to effectively coordinate all IMC efforts.

Though IMC may not be for everyone, it can certainly be said that implementing an integrated marketing communications approach to organization/company communication efforts will have a positive long-term effect – for the company and the audience.

Looking for schools that teach IMC at the master’s level? 

Consider the following:

IMC Online @ West Virginia University: http://imc.wvu.edu/

Northwestern University – Medill: http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/imc/

Loyola University: http://www.luc.edu/gsb/academics_msimc.shtml