May 23, 2012
Knacktive students team up to pitch marketing ideas to Science City
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.
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Business owners interested in learning more about working with Knacktive should contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248.
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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:
- Team Next Gen recommended developing partnerships with area Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and hosting an overnight program during which scouts could spend a night at Science City, participating in activities and earning badges. The team also proposed that Science City offer monthly educational programs.
- Team Confido sought to appeal to childhood dreams of science-related careers with a campaign titled “Big Dreams Start Here.” Confido called for implementing programming and hands-on activities to foster children’s lifelong passions for science as well as volunteer opportunities to help college students prepare for careers in areas such as education, community relations or non-profit work.
- Team Alchemy suggested a 12-week camp for children that would allow them to discover, explore and experiment with each of the so-called STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Alchemy also incorporated an interactive mobile app into its campaign.
- Team Spark pitched a three-tiered campaign targeting elementary educators, prospective interns from colleges and universities and possible donors. The team presented its client books on Kindle Fires so Science City leaders could interactively scroll though documents and present concepts to future donors.
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.”
For more information, please contact:
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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