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Marketing Communication introduces revamped curriculum

Bridgit Brown
April 07, 2011

emerson students in a marketing communication class

A new Marketing Communication curriculum will be rolled out this fall, one that “looks forward,” according Marketing Communication Chair Donald Hurwitz.

“The current curriculum is very well practiced in getting people prepared for advertising and PR careers, especially in agencies. The new curriculum recognizes that marketing communication opportunities are exploding in many arenas, and we want to prepare students to take advantage of that,” said Hurwitz.

In juxtaposition to the growth of opportunities in “other types of jobs” in marketing communication, the number of advertising and PR agency jobs has been shrinking, and will continue to do so, in tandem with the changing media landscape. In fact, a 2010 CNBC report cited advertising and promotions managers as the number seven job expected to disappear from the workforce due to the economy and the dynamic landscape of the media and Internet. 

“Those positions are shrinking because with digitization, things are moving into other venues and other forms. We need to prepare students for a broader range of possibilities,” said Hurwitz.

The new curriculum, authored by Department faculty, along with Hurwitz, will incorporate the features that are common to all marketing communication, such as the underlying focus on consumers, tools, and strategies, and a broader range of organizational contexts, and apply the common threads to new and emerging areas, such as web-based, direct, database, and mobile marketing tools, in addition to advertising and PR. With this approach, students, upon graduation, will be prepared to use their skills in a wider variety of ways across different organizations.

With all the talk about social media in corporate America, new jobs have emerged in the field, and Hurwitz suspects that advertising budgets for social media will quickly grow due to the energy being put into measuring and gathering analytics. And, while a course in social media is already offered in the Marketing Communication Department, the problem, Hurwitz said, is that the material students learn in one course does not cover all the necessary ground.

Several years ago, social media was a new phenomenon, explained Hurwitz, “but now it’s clear that these tools are here to stay, and they’re proliferating, and they need to be integrated with other channels. So the question is, what strategic frameworks are going to facilitate all this? How can you put it all together and take it on the road responsibly, with impact, and in meaningful ways?”

The new curriculum recognizes that needs and opportunities are emerging in new venues, and students need to be prepared for a broader range of possibilities. Chances are, fairly early in their careers, they will move across multiple venues in their work. The new curriculum reduces the number of required courses from nine to six, and it creates more options among the expanded number of electives for the major. Through the electives, students will have the opportunity to concentrate in one of six areas: Digital and Data-driven Marketing Communication, Methods and Insights, Campaign, Creative, Media, and Managing Marketing Communication. 

Hurwitz remarked that the curriculum was built in such a way that students—who tend to be the first people to try new media—will also help the department determine how to adapt the curriculum going forward, as some of the new developments are accelerating the pace.

“We’ve been living with broadcast television for about 60 years at this point, and we’ve only been with Facebook for about five. Then Twitter comes along. We may not know what’s going to be next, but we aim for our students to be among the first to figure out how to put it to good use, whatever it is,” Hurwitz said.

Key facts for new and continuing students:

  • Junior and senior Marketing Communications majors must remain with the current curriculum, since they will not have time to take on some of the new shifts in requirements. They will have some additional course options available to them.
  • A first-year Marketing Communications major entering in fall 2011 will take the new curriculum.
  • Current freshman Marketing Communications majors, who will be sophomores this fall, will be given a choice of whether they want to stay with the old or opt in to the new curriculum.
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