The second reason? Well, when you challenge the APR students at Alabama, they will rise to the occasion. Case in point: PR Campaigns. This semester my PR Campaigns students had an extremely challenging and rewarding start-up company for their client. I'm sure it scared them to death at first, but in the end, the client was extremely impressed. They even told me that the work looked like it was done by a professional agency. My response? A gentle smile and an "Of course. That's what we do here are Alabama." (Although inside my head I was doing some major fist pumps, but I think I pulled off serene and knowledgeable.)
The thing about teaching college students is that not every student is going to like you. In fact, some may hate you. But if you challenge them & they learn, then you've done your job... and I'm okay with that. While teaching in the APR department, I've learned that my job is not to be their friend, but to get them ready for the real world... and I think I do. In fact, I got one of the best possible compliments in an email from one of my students today:
- "Needless to say, the campaigns class was quite a struggle. However, it taught me more than any class I've ever taken. As odd as this may sound, thank you for being so demanding. You have been in the 'real PR world,' and I now know what kind of standards will be set for me in the future."
Before I get any further, let me just say that NO campaigns class is easy. Students have to take everything they have learned up to their final semester and integrate the information into a seamless campaign. It is very intimidating. I remember being there *cough cough cough* years ago, and it was scary as hell. You wanted to do well, but you were also terrified that everything would fall apart and you would never be able to graduate. (Whoa. I'm having flashbacks.) But, I also remember the point that it all clicked because I had an awesome professor that challenged my team at every turn and changed my life. (Thanks, Dr. Mullins.) I want to be that professor for my students, because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they can do it.
Okay, so back to my PR Campaigns kids and their extremely challenging/rewarding client.
Like I said, the other reason that I know I've worked with the best and the brightest is that when I challenge my students, I really challenge them. And, man, do they ever rise to the occasion. Our client this semester was a VERY unique one. Think your kids can handle a local non-profit? Great. How about a national start-up company that has 3 target audiences and a VERY unique position in the market? When I say start-up, I mean a company that is a week old. Did I mention I like to challenge them (and myself)? Yeah.
Enter PlayScience. According to their
For those of you who still don't get PlayScience, here is their vision:
Can you imagine the sheer panic that my students probably experienced when I tried to explain PlayScience to them? For the first couple weeks of class, I had A LOT of deer in the headlight stares. They probably thought I was crazy. Heck, I may have been.
But, after a semester of cursing my name and my red pen, they had AMAZING final projects. I saw so many light bulbs go off this semester, it was ridiculous. One by one, they started to get it, and slowly but surely their campaigns formed. They understood the client, and came up with unique ideas in every single campaign. At the final presentation, the client was blown away. PlayScience told the students that if they took their campaign books into any job interview, it could very easily land them the job... because they had done professional, quality work.
I'm not going to tell you about the specific ideas that they came up (because that's confidential). However, I will tell you that @PlayScience is already implementing them. My students can go into the workforce knowing that a national company is implementing their ideas. That's pretty cool.
And to make the semester just a little more interesting, the teams competed for an "A" in the class. If the client chose their campaign as the winner, then the students in that group got an "A" for the semester, no questions asked. It got pretty competitive, and I'm pretty sure that a few hearts were broken when the winning team was announced. But the client fell in love with the Aqua campaign, and it was a good one. (Congratulations, ladies, you did a fantastic job.)
To ALL of my students: You did an exceptional job, and should be very proud of yourselves. You not only survived the class, but you thrived under extreme circumstances. I am very proud of you. I know it wasn't easy, but I really hope you learned something. If you ever have questions, just ask.
Note: All information about PlayScience shared or created in this class is strictly confidential. The information in these campaigns will not be shared outside the parameters of this class.