A project encouraging digital content writing

This project’s resources were originally developed for a Stage III undergraduate paper by a team of academics from the Marketing department in the Business School at the University of Auckland including: Mike Lee, Rebecca Dolan, Yuri Seo and Gavin Northey.

These resources might be useful to: teachers of marketing and teachers of digital writing.

The project was supported by the SEED Fund grants for 2017.

You might also be interested in similar projects such as: Operations management simulator and From ‘Thinking Like a Manager’ to ‘Writing Like a Manager.’

Project background

What were the objectives of your project?

As project leader Mike Lee explains in his initial project proposal: “The industrial revolution was to manufacturers what the digital revolution is to marketers. The new online consumer is tech-savvy, informed, connected, and empowered to be ‘virtually’ anywhere, anyone, at any time. Thus, in order to stay relevant, how we teach the creation, evaluation and management of marketing content (e.g., writing marketing strategy plans, media plans, and advertising campaigns), requires a thoughtful systematic integration of digital technology and practices into curriculum.

The objective of this project was to develop an interactive practice-based student workshop on how to create, manage, and evaluate digital marketing content: ‘Digital Content in Marketing: Creation, Management, and Evaluation’. The aim was for the workshop to focus on the creation (i.e., writing), management, and evaluation of digital marketing content, as it pertains to the evolving role of marketing within the businesses ecosystem and broader social considerations.

The ability to write well has always been beneficial in marketing, however this has become even more indispensable in the digital era (Greenhow et al., 2009). The success of digital marketing elements such as content marketing, social media messaging, and search engine optimization are closely linked to quality writing (Ryan, 2014). Creative writing skills in these areas are said to result in increased engagement, improved SEO, leads and sales (Ledford, 2015). Within digital marketing teams, clear communication through writing is essential in order to explain ideas and concepts to developers, designers, and team members. Writing skills are important for blog posts and website content, while copywriting skills are imperative in order to write persuasively and create customer actions (Cvijikj and Michahelles, 2013).

The ultimate goal of this project is to learn how the insights from marketing practice can be systematically integrated into the existing marketing major to make our curriculum more relevant, as well as foster stronger engagement with students and industry. Specifically, we will evaluate the most successful components of the workshop, and develop a plan where these components are systematically integrated into marketing courses.”

Lee elaborates: “The landscape of digital marketing is changing so rapidly that academics in a research institute do not always have the time to source or create teaching materials based on latest practice. We wanted to expose our students to the latest digital content writing and to foster the creative skills sought and practised by industry. Eventually, we leveraged our relationships with industry by collaborating with the Dentsu Aegis Network to deliver a day long workshop and networking event, which introduced our students to the most relevant concepts in digital marketing.”

Project reflection

Below are some reflections from the project team:

What went well? What was unexpected?

The day went very smoothly and the students all enjoyed and learnt a lot from the experience. The industry facilitators were happy to assist in showing the next generation of digital marketers the necessary concepts to make their transition into industry smoother for everyone.

In order to gauge the success of the workshop and event we launched a survey asking participants a series of questions. Unfortunately out of 30 participants only about a third of the students completed the survey. This was unexpected, especially as we reminded them several times that the industry facilitators would very much appreciate their anonymous feedback. It was also particularly disappointing  given that students received a free workshop that would normally cost participants several hundred dollars each and a free fully-catered evening cocktail event to encourage the participants to network.

How did the project contribute to your students’ learning? (How do you know?)

Of the students that did complete the survey many noted that they were exposed to concepts in a practical way for the first time in their degree studies.

How did the project contribute to your learning?

We sat in the workshops for the entire day although we did not participate in the activites. We also attended the networking function.  We learnt from sitting through their presentations and from organizing the event.

Do you plan to continue this initiative beyond the grant period?

Due to the overwhelming success of the event, in Semester Two a similar team from the Dentsu Aegis Network were invited to deliver an abridged version of their content to a much larger audience –  the advertising and promotions Stage Three course in Marketing. This relationship is likely to continue into future semesters, thereby exposing a larger number of students to the relevant digital marketing concepts.

We would like to thank the SEED grant for providing the initial seed funding to establish relationships and create a workshop, thereby enabling us to distill the most essential ingredients and scale up to benefit a larger number of students moving forward.

Thank you, Mike, Rebecca, Yuri and Gavin.

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