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April 17, 2019
Team Exploreous believed there was something in the nature of their Knacktive campaign to hook their client, and they were right when the city of Maryville’s Tourism Committee on April 12 announced their pick to help the city advance its tourism initiatives.
Knacktive, the Northwest Missouri State University program that places advanced undergraduate students in an environment mimicking a digital media marketing agency, partnered with the city and its new Tourism Committee this spring to devise a comprehensive marketing campaign.
Four teams annually compete to develop and pitch their campaigns to a professional client. The Tourism Committee selected Team Exploreous – comprised of Madison Mead, Paige Brotherton, Kathy Nguyen, Alex Garcia, Taylor Johnson, Joe Funkhouser, Jocelyn Contreras and Nathan Galbraith – for its concept, which City Manager Greg McDanel said included a clean website design, social media management tools and a tagline that made an impression on the committee members. The tagline, “It’s in our nature …” emphasized Maryville’s nature-friendly features with other characteristics of the community.
“We were looking for an edge to take our plan in the right direction,” Jocelyn Contreras, a senior public relations major from Kansas City, Missouri, who was Team Exploreous’ public relations manager, said. “We knew that Maryville was filled with nature so we really wanted to capitalize on that. While brainstorming all these nature types of slogans, that one just came to me and you could fit those personality traits that Maryville has. ‘Beauty – it’s in our nature.’ ‘Tradition – it’s in our nation.’ It just fit, and we really let that be the driver for the rest of our plan.”
Although the committee declared Team Exploreous as the winner, McDanel said elements from each team’s campaign will find their way into Maryville’s tourism campaign. Team TraVille provided ideas for a phased approach toward implementing a campaign. A Walk Down Main Street focused on ideas for a “staycation.” Decrypt da ’Ville offered a video and website that focused on personal testimonies of family vacations. Students created websites, logos, advertising and other elements to establish a cohesive campaign for the Tourism Committee and help unify the city’s numerous tourism offerings and agencies.
“There was definitely strengths in every group,” McDanel said. “We’ll find a way to blend everything and make it real because we literally are starting from a blank canvas. So this is going to help us tremendously. We’ll sit down and take elements from all of these presentations and make something really great for the community.”
Paige Brotherton, a senior interactive digital media major with new media emphasis, from Kearney, Missouri, was Team Exploreous’ project manager. She said the teams enjoyed gaining a different perspective of Maryville and discovering features of the city they didn’t know existed.
“We didn’t really know where to start, since it was a blank canvas,” Brotherton said. “Honestly, it took us awhile to figure out the progression and where we wanted to go. Then one day, Jocelyn and Alex came in and told us about the ‘It’s in our nature’ slogan, and we’re like, ‘That’s it.’ That was the one.”
Dr. Deb Toomey, an assistant professor of marketing, said, “It was really fun to watch them take something that they thought they knew in Maryville and discover more about it and learn more about the client as a whole before starting with the whole process. It was also very fun to see how different the projects ended up being, even though they all kind of started in the same place. Every year, these students amaze me.”
Northwest students have teamed with the city of Maryville on a number of projects in recent years, most notably for a successful rebranding of Mozingo Lake Recreation Park in 2012. Northwest students also have developed social media plans for local businesses through an internship program with the Maryville Chamber of Commerce, and students in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems partnered with Mozingo to build online programs for managing inventory, work schedules and other organizational needs.
“I just want to say how proud I am of you guys,” Greg Hansen, who joined Northwest’s staff last fall as assistant vice president of student affairs for campus recreation and sits on the Tourism Committee, told Knacktive students at the conclusion of the presentations. “I’ve been out in the world for 20-25 years, working with municipalities, and I sat across the table from agencies in Kansas City, where you guys will be getting jobs, and to have you guys prepared and to have the faculty who have you ready to go, it makes me really proud.”
Knacktive is an elective course designed to replicate the creative demands and intense teamwork atmosphere of a technology-oriented, professional marketing and communication agency. Thirty-two students are selected for the experience and actively refine their creative abilities, collaborative skills and academic knowledge with the objective of improved competitiveness in the professional marketplace after graduation.
Throughout the course, students experience a realistic, agency-like atmosphere as they work in teams on a comprehensive campaign plan for a real client with real issues to address. The competing teams conduct research, analyze the data, devise a strategy, formulate tactics and ultimately make a formal presentation to the client.
“The faculty doesn’t hold your hand the whole way,” Brotherton said. “You work as a team and you develop a strategy and everything you want to put into this whole campaign, and then you implement it. You have to pitch the whole thing, and it’s pretty close to what you’d be doing in the real world.”
Knacktive incorporates principles, strategies and tactics of design, marketing and public relations through a melting pot of majors from Northwest’s schools and departments of Communication and Mass Media; Language, Literature and Writing; Fine and Performing Arts; Business; and Computer Science and Information Systems. Interested students must apply for the course and selected students earn three hours of academic credit by successfully completing the course.
Four faculty members – Dr. Joni Adkins, associate professor of computer science and information systems; Steven Chappell, instructor of mass media; Chris Graves, associate professor of art; and Toomey – advise students in the program.
The inaugural Knacktive class in 2011 designed a comprehensive marketing campaign for Cincinnati-based LasikPlus Vision. The client ultimately chose one team’s approach of marketing its vision correction procedure to individuals in protective services, and the “Eyes Save Lives” campaign was spun off nationally within three months.
Subsequent Knacktive classes have tackled rebranding projects and marketing campaigns for Science City at Kansas City’s Union Station; Tri State Ford auto dealership in Maryville; Northwest’s Horace Mann Laboratory School; Hy-Vee’s Market Grille; Velociti Inc., a technology deployment company in Kansas City; and The American Royal. Alumni of the Knacktive program have gone on to obtain jobs at some of the region’s top advertising and marketing agencies.
Business owners interested in learning more about working with Knacktive should contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248. To learn more about Knacktive, visit www.knacktive.com.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468