In preparing for class discussion by reading a business case last week, my eyes scanned a phrase that seemed woefully out of date. 'Web logging,'? blogging's full name, felt as silly, formal and old as the days when we all had to use .edu addresses to log into thefacebook.com. Of course, in 2003 when Halley Suitt's case 'A Blogger in Their Midst'? was published, such explanation was necessary and what would become the blogging public were having Dear Diary moments on LiveJournal and Xanga.
Long story short, the fictional case involved a blog-happy company employee wielding her influence for good and bad. She filled her many readers in on pending sales deals and her negative opinions of potential clients ' surely a fireable offense in this day and age. But the quasi-anonymous writer also sang the praises of several of her company's products and even revived an aging product line. She generated good buzz for the company and earned accolades from other industry leaders. The fictional executives worked themselves into a tizzy over what to do about her. They had never really heard of people taking to the Internet to document their thoughts, share opinion and create media that heralded a product. Should they fire her? Promote her? Let her keep blogging and hope she stops spreading company secrets? All this prompted a lively discussion with classmates debating the various merits and detriments of this non-sanctioned blog. But it was all for naught.
In 2011, this case is pretty much a moot point. If this situation were happening today, the company would already have an official blog and a social media policy for employees to follow. This random blogger would likely be fired or at leave be given a stern talking-to. However, here my class sat (on a Friday night no less'?¦thanks, snow day make up schedule) dissecting the facts of this case and giving our hypothetical advice to the fake CEO ' whose spot was blown up on the blog when the author outed his toupee.
A Speedily Changing Subject Matter
I don't fault anyone here, not my professor, not the case author, not my school. Our class discussions are always relevant, current and enlightening, but what we've all had to read to get there'?¦not so much. When the field, integrated marketing communication, moves as fast as it does, it's clearly difficult for related material to catch up. In the past three months that I've been interning at AMP, we've witnessed the beginning of the end for MP3 players and questioned the air-tightness of the almighty mobile app.
Case studies are a little easier to keep updated, but textbooks nowadays can be like paper time capsules. For example, one of my texts from this semester points to the online buzz created around Christina Aguilera's 'Genie in a Bottle'? as a great way to market pop music to teens online. It credits a 'team of cybersurfers'? posting messages on websites and emailing music fans about this hot new singer, whom they might remember from the Mulan soundtrack. Never mind the fact that we all associate Xtina with things far less wholesome than Disney's warrior princess, Electric Artists would now have to make their scrappy cybersurfing squad officially disclose that they were receiving 'material connections'? for talking up one of the greatest songs of the summer of 1999, thanks to a 2009 update to the FTC's endorsement guide. And, if we're talking about pop stars skyrocketing to fame with the help of the interwebs, why don't we mention The Bieber? In defense of the textbook's authors, it was published in 2009 when Bieber Fever was more like Bieber Sniffles and had only taken root in Canada.
Thinking Outside the Textbook
The onus rests on course instructors to seek out supplemental reading to give students an up-to-date picture of the marketing world, which we deserve. However, this all but guarantees that each class, each semester will be totally buy propecia on line different. Education should be fluid, but should students be learning completely different things from year to year?
A friend's professor bolstered the class text with articles like this one on Twitter's influence on live TV, but what happens next spring when the class runs again? The story will be outdated and the professor will have no guaranteed source of supplemental information.
So what's the answer? A marketing professor think tank that writes up content for each new semester? Requiring that students buy e-readers to ensure they'll get the freshest content?
I don't know the solution, but part of the future landscape of higher education has already begun to form in the shape of tweets and status updates. Social media has revolutionized how we live and communicate and it's definitely been changing the way we learn.
Social Butterflies Landing in the Classroom
When I was an undergraduate, Facebook was simply a place to connect with friends and, eventually, a place to share photos. The biggest influence it had outside of students' social lives was the rumors that the Department of Public Safety was using it to find parties to bust. Campus lore held that a professor got wind of a student's 20th birthday party at a bar through a Facebook event and alerted authorities. That was surely a learning experience for all who may or may not have been involved and their confiscated fake IDs.
Today students shouldn't be surprised if professors bring the 'Book right into their classes. Recent findings show that 80 percent of faculty members use some form of social media to teach. A whopping 91 percent of them report using social media as some aspect of their work, compared to 47 percent of professionals in other industries.
This year, I've had the head of my department wish me a happy birthday through Twitter, watched iconic commercials in class on YouTube, and found the opening that led to my AMP internship on my program's LinkedIn page. In the four years that have passed since I earned my bachelor's degree, social media has delivered some walloping changes to the landscape in the classroom and on campus.
Marketing students can rest assured that even when their assigned readings feel as dated as Ms. Aguilera's Dirrty-era chaps, their professors will pleasantly punch up any discussion using their own expert observations, relevant news pieces and up-to-the-minute strategy playing out in social platforms. Let's just hope some updated course materials materialize soon so they have a little back up.