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News Release

April 19, 2024

Latest Knacktive partnership plans marketing campaign for regional organization

The members of Connect-a-Cat sprang from their chairs, slapped high fives and embraced each other with hugs upon hearing their team announced Thursday night as the group that best met a client’s needs during Northwest Missouri State University’s annual Knacktive course.

Each spring, the interdisciplinary program places advanced undergraduate students in an environment mimicking a digital media marketing agency. This year, Knacktive students partnered with Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments – which offers a variety of programming, products and services for communities in northwest Missouri – to build a campaign promoting the Affordable Connectivity Program, a benefit program funded through the Federal Communications Commission to assist households with affording broadband internet.

Connect-a-Cat pitched a campaign it built on extensive analysis to determine the best approach to connect with the Regional Council’s target markets. They created print materials – such as flyers, brochures, newspaper advertisements and mailings – as well as social media posts and a website with the goal of enhancing communication with the Regional Council’s target audience and building partnerships.

“They provided us with more information than we already had,” Jerri Dearmont, the Regional Council’s executive director, said. “It was just so detailed, and they talked about the values, the trust, and it was just amazing. So they’ve done the research.”

Team Connect-a-Cat consisted of, left to right, Juliet Johnson, Didar Orazgeldiyev, Anna-Claire Matz, BreAnna Reeve, Deep Shikha and Alyssa Zion.

Team Connect-a-Cat consisted of, left to right, Juliet Johnson, Didar Orazgeldiyev, Anna-Claire Matz, BreAnna Reeve, Deep Shikha and Alyssa Zion.

This year’s Knacktive class consisted of 19 students organized in three teams – Connect-a-Cat, Cyber.C@ts and Fast & Furious. Students interview for and are assigned to specific roles with each team, such as project manager, media manager, marketing strategist, art director and digital media manager.

Juliet Johnson, a senior marketing major from Trenton, Missouri, was Connect-a-Cat’s project manager.

“It was very rewarding,” she said. “All of my team members did amazing, and I had the best time. It was just so cool to get to work with these people and meet them, and we formed some really tight bonds.”

Johnson said she joined Knacktive to connect with people outside of her major and build her skills in a real-world climate. After completing her degree at Northwest she hopes to build a career in the marketing and branding field.

“I think it’s really cool that it was a world example with a real client,” Johnson said of the Knacktive experience. “It looks great on a résumé, and it’s just good to participate as a college student because I don’t feel like a lot of people have this opportunity. I’m incredibly grateful for it.”

Didar Orazgeldiyev, who is graduating from Northwest this spring with a bachelor’s degree in digital Media with a visual imaging emphasis, served as Connect-a-Cat’s art director and graphic designer. Orazgeldiyev joined Knacktive with an interest in challenging himself and said he appreciated the opportunity to hone his skills while working with a cross-functional team to create a marketing strategy.

“I became a better designer and better art director than I even thought I was or I was capable of,” said Orazgeldiyev, who wants to embark on a career in user experience and graphic design.

A native of Mary, Turkmenistan, Orazgeldiyev drew inspiration for Connect-a-Cat’s artwork from the landscapes of northwest Missouri.

“We wanted the designs to represent the northwest Missouri region with windmills, farmlands, the blue sky, and I got the inspiration to add yellow color from the sunset,” he said. “The sky is beautiful in this region and I wanted to showcase and represent them.”

About Knacktive

Knacktive is an elective course designed to replicate the creative demands and intense teamwork atmosphere of a technology-oriented, professional marketing and communication agency. 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, budget, formulate tactics and ultimately make a formal presentation to the client.

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 MediaLanguage, Literature and WritingFine and Performing ArtsBusiness; 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.

The inaugural Knacktive class in 2011 designed a comprehensive marketing campaign for Cincinnati-based LasikPlus Vision, and the winning team’s “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; American Royal; the City of Maryville’s Tourism Board; Farmer's Mutual Insurance of Nodaway County; Ringgold County, Iowa; and St. Joseph Youth Alliance. Knacktive alumni, meanwhile, 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


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215