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May 23, 2012
Piloted at Northwest during the spring 2011 trimester, Knacktive is a capstone course that places students within a multi-disciplinary, team-driven agency. While students must apply and interview for specific jobs within the agency, the course provides students with an invaluable opportunity to build their portfolios with real-world experience and learn to work with others in a fast-paced, team setting. Students work with a professional client to create practical solutions for their marketplace challenge and earn three hours of credit by successfully completing the course.
While the course incorporates principles, strategies and tactics of design, marketing and public relations, Knacktive is a melting pot of majors from the departments Fine and Performing Arts; Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems; Business; and Communication and Mass Media.
The 2011 class designed a comprehensive marketing campaign for Cincinnati-based LasikPlus Vision, which led to the "Eyes Save Lives" campaign launched nationally within three months.
Business owners interested in learning more about working with Knacktive should contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248.
Contact one of the faculty members listed below:
Area families and visitors are likely to see the ideas of Northwest Missouri State University students during the next couple years in the advertising and marketing efforts of Science City, a hands-on science center located within Kansas City’s Union Station.
Knacktive, Northwest’s student-driven strategic communications agency, was tasked this spring with rebranding Science City, expanding its market and raising awareness of its mission in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The 32 students accepted into the course were divided into four teams of eight students. Each team then presented its marketing campaign to Union Station and Science City staff and board members April 17.
Each proposal was based on research conducted by the students and included recommendations for promotional materials, social media, marketing plans and mobile applications. Although the students designed a variety of proposals that targeted different audiences, all of them centered on the idea of raising children’s curiosity about science and programs at Science City.
Director of Science City Jeff Rosenblatt said the center’s leaders appreciated that Knacktive teams incorporated four unique approaches and styles into their campaigns – from emphasizing the destination’s strengths to suggestions for improving its website. In fact, Rosenblatt added, the teams’ final pitches to Science City were better than those of some professional marketing agencies.
“They created a conversation among us as we were talking about what teams we liked the most, and it was a conversation that really opened things up for us,” Rosenblatt said. “It was a great experience. They were very thorough in their thinking about all of the different aspects of our marketing. They took it seriously and we felt like we gained a lot from the experience.”
While the students’ research showed Science City is most appropriate for children between the ages of 5 and 14, the Knacktive teams’ proposals suggested the center target parents and youth leaders with its marketing, in hopes that those audiences will foster their children's curiosity in science.
Among the strategies proposed by Knacktive teams:
The campaigns also included a variety of ideas for reaching Science City’s target market, from advertising in movie theaters to parenting magazines and online spots. The teams offered ideas to engage Science City’s audience through social media platforms in addition to revamped logos and websites that made use of bright colors and popular aspects of Science City. Upon incorporation of their plans, teams projected significant attendance increases at the science center.
Union Station and Science City leaders ultimately chose Confido’s approach as the winning campaign. However, Rosenblatt said the group shared interest in aspects of each proposal and Science City could incorporate various pieces in its marketing efforts over the next few years.
“Confido really tied into the inspirational aspects of Science City with ‘What do you want to be?’” Rosenblatt said. “When it came down to it, we looked at what would have an impact. Most of us agreed that would have the biggest impact. People would be affected by it emotionally. That’s a pretty strong perspective.”
Keira Kesslar, a senior public relations major from King City, was Confido’s public relations manager. She will graduate from Northwest this summer and hopes to use the skills she learned at Knacktive in a public relations role for a theater or non-profit organization.
“It’s really given me a lot of soft skills, and it given me a new respect for different majors,” she said. “If students are really serious about getting that job after graduation, they need to do this. It’s fun, it pushes you and it helped me develop skills I never knew I had.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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