For Nicolas Mancheno ’18, today’s the Big Day. The Annual Meeting and Luncheon of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) draws quite a crowd of VIP’s from top financial, accounting, legal, utilities, and town representatives in the region. This year Edward Beyer, Vice President of Sikorsky Integration, Sikorsky Aircraft, is the keynote speaker. On the agenda is a preview of the Quarterly Report of Economic Development Projects, honoring the 2017 Regional IMPACT Award Winners, and….[drumroll] the soft launch of BRBC’s new logo design. That’s where Mancheno, representing his fellow Advertising and Public Relations Campaign classmates, makes his debut to the greater Bridgeport business community.
At the apex of experiential learning is real-world success. Behind the anticipated shout-out to UB and Mancheno at today’s BRBC luncheon is Professor Susan Katz’s diligent commitment to pedagogy that supports the University’s mission of “Opening doors. Building futures.” In Mancheno’s case, the “door” that opened was an elevator ride straight up to the top floor of People’s United Bank headquarters in Bridgeport to meet with Cindy Belak, First Vice President of Marketing, and Eric Lemelin, Senior Corporate Marketing and Product Specialist, to review and modify the logo he designed as a class assignment. The two corporate executives extended the invitation to Mancheno at the request of Armando Goncalves, People’s United Bank Southern Connecticut President and BRBC Board Chairman.
We can only imagine that Nick will be following the red shoe footsteps of new BRBC President and CEO Mickey Herbert, as he did at the full-class presentation on April 25. A leading healthcare professional who founded Physicians Health Services and served as its CEO for 22 years, Herbert took to wearing red footwear when the company sponsored its first March of Dimes 5k walk around Seaside Park in the early 1990’s. Following his red sneakers came a pair of red patent leather shoes his wife gifted him, and before long, red shoes — and the color red — soon became his calling card.
Herbert was “floored” not just by Mancheno but by the entire class of mass communications and graphic design students. Likewise, Professor Katz loved working with the BRBC not only because they were a hands-on client who offered specific and ongoing feedback, but “What’s more, they were gracious, warm, and so very professional.” Katz was looking for a non-profit client in the Greater Bridgeport area that was well-known, had a lot going on, and would be interesting to tackle. She approached Herbert first.
“I didn’t know Susan Katz at all,” shared Herbert. “She just called me out of the blue very soon after I had taken on this job as President of the BRBC.” Charged with transforming the business networking organization with scarce resources, he welcomed the phone call. “When the professor said we will create an entire set of marketing materials, I said Wow. Any hesitation I had about having students developing our new ‘look’ was diminished knowing we’d be working with a seasoned professional like Susan Katz. But I honestly didn’t know the students could produce a product as excellent as it turned out to be. All those kids were undergrads…maybe you would expect that from grad students, but undergrads? We left the presentation that afternoon highly impressed.”
Course Organization and Deliverables
As with all mass communication courses taught by Professor Katz, class assignments were disbursed within the framework of a modern corporate Marketing and Communications Department, following emerging best practices as well as class/client needs. In the fifteen years that she has been teaching mass communications, Katz has found that “media is ever-evolving” and believes it is imperative to keep up with emerging platforms, which in turn get integrated into her course.
“When I first started teaching Advertising and Public Relations Campaign, there was no Social Media Department or social media deliverables. Now it is one of the leading elements in any integrated marketing campaign. We’re producing augmented reality media now for our clients, and much more video,” even while the need for buying broadcast time, for instance, has fallen away. Katz adds that organizing the class and promising deliverables are “always based on the needs of the client and the skill set of the class. It’s an organic process because we will only deliver what we are capable of outputting as high end professional work.”
For this class, Professor Katz grouped students in four teams with the following deliverables:
1. Team: Press & Public Relations
Team Leader: Sheri Middleton
- Media Kit
- Fact Sheet
- Affiliate sheets
- Meet the Team (bios)
- Blog Feature Stories
2. Team: Art & Design
Team Leader: Motolani Akingbade
- BRBC Logo
- 7 Affiliates Logos
- 5 Category Event Logos
- Event Banners retractable and 33″x78″
- Business Cards
- CT Magazine Ads
- Bus shelter
- Lamp posts signs
- Web ads for Only in Bridgeport
- Promotional/Novelty items
3. Team: Social Media
Team Leader: Ashlee Castellano
- Facebook banners and wall posts
- Twitter– banners and wall posts
- YouTube banners
- LinkedIn banner
- Logo Taglines
- Constant Contact templates for Mickey’s Mail and Monday Morning Memo
- Zappar augmented reality app
4. Team: Video/Photography
Team Leader: Brianna Jackson
Bridgeport Regional Business Council “Power of the BRBC” (3:58)
Bridgeport Regional Business Council “Power of the BRBC-Bob Abbate” (:44)
Bridgeport Regional Business Council “Power of the BRBC–Joyce Ramirez” (1:22)
At the final class presentation, each team leader introduced their team members and the respective work they created for the BRBC. Professionally-binded media kits were distributed to all and audience engagement surrounded the presentation of the Zapper app. At the conclusion, Assistant Creative Director Alyxandra Irizarry ’17 shared with attendees:
“Hello and thank you all for coming out today. As Professor Katz mentioned, I am Alyxandra and I served as the Assistant Creative Director. As students we often sit in a classroom and learn about the concepts and principles that lay the foundation for our chosen profession. In this class, however, we are afforded the opportunity to put those concepts into practical application. We work tirelessly to provide our clients with winning and relevant campaigns and content that they can use immediately. We work together to overcome obstacles, bounce ideas off of one another, and ultimately develop the skills that will help us succeed in the real world.
“As a graduating senior, I could not have picked a better team nor client to go out with. To Mickey and Jocelyn, thank you for working so closely with us. Your partnership with our classroom run agency truly shows that the BRBC really is where commerce and community connect. Professor Katz, you run a tight ship. Over the last few semesters you have taught me leadership skills, delegation, how to manage tight deadlines and have developed my eye for good design. I am grateful. And to my peers, you are all so wonderfully talented and should be proud of your accomplishments today. It wasn’t always easy, but you pushed through, pass after pass after pass. None of this would have been possible without your hard work. So before we celebrate our achievement, I would like to say thank you so much for everyone here and let’s turn the floor back over to Professor Katz.”
In retrospect, what stood out for BRBC Director of Communications Jocelyn Paoletta was both the creative and strategic thinking behind the UB students’ input. At the first informal session when the class met with the client, Paoletta thought they were gathered to hear the overview of the organization from the client perspective and then take their creative direction from there. But while the students took notes, they also asked questions.
She remembers one student, Brianna Jackson, pointing out that, “BRBC is about business, yes, but it’s more about people and community. You’re really about bringing people together.” Paoletta shared, “Bri’s perspective brought us around, because that is exactly what we are about. From all corners of the region we bring nonprofits, large corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, manufacturers, and tech companies together. Yes, these are all businesses, but the mission of the BRBC is to bring the people behind the businesses together as one community working in concert to grow economic prosperity for Bridgeport, ‘the central city,’ and the region that surrounds it. That concept visually ended up playing out in Mancheno’s logo design.”
Paoletta also found both Professor Katz and her students “a delight to work with. I love in particular Susan’s energy and creative mind, and her ability to keep both the BRBC and the students on track and in line with all the projects we were working on. Most of the students were probably not familiar with our kind of organization, so when we had the opportunity to walk them through and explore what we wanted to create, the students brought a fresh perspective. Their viewpoint and input will help us shape our messaging going forward.”
She was so impressed, in fact, that she plans to continue working with UB students in the Fall semester ahead. She has enlisted journalism students as interns, offering them a chance to hone their journalism skills by writing membership spotlight articles for the BRBC. More experiential learning in action!
Irizarry has taken at least a half dozen classes with Professor Katz, and finds the classes always exceed her expectations, “especially because you never know who the client is going to be and what the projects will entail.” She always looks forward to each class’s final presentation because for many of the students it’s the first time they see what their peers from the other departments have been working on. “We run around like chickens with our heads cut off all semester and then in one presentation, everything comes together,” Irizarry said. “Watching the look on the client’s faces when they see everything, that’s really the highlight.”
A now-graduate of UB whose eye is on the future, another highlight for Irizarry during this particular class was working with Jocelyn Paoletta. “She does so much at the BRBC, it would make anyone’s head spin. Her work ethic is unparalleled and she’s just so friendly. It’s a goal of mine to head a communications department one day, so working with Jocelyn helped me set some expectations.”
Added Mancheno, whose graphic design services were retained by the BRBC after the full-class presentation so he had the extraordinary opportunity to continue working with Paoletta, “This was my first time taking a mass communications class and I didn’t know what to expect. Working with the BRBC is giving me a real sense of how the business world works – the ups and downs, the evolving submissions process, the importance of ongoing communication.”
According to Paoletta, the post-class, pre-luncheon meeting with top People’s Bank executives involved clearing security to go through to the top floors “to meet two very important people.” She reflected, “I had to put myself in Nick’s shoes and think back to when I was a student. These ‘real-world’ experiences are so valuable and they are the experiences we remember for a lifetime. Riding the elevator to the top floors of People’s United Bank must have been so cool for Nick. I was delighted that the BRBC, through its collaboration with UB and People’s United Bank, was able to deliver this experience to him.”
What networking and freelance opportunities might the future bring? Mancheno, in his red shoes, is open. “I’m learning as I go and I’m loving it!”