After building itself from the ground up, Plymouth Creative is already busy juggling a growing roster of diverse clients. The agency is an outgrowth of a new Plymouth Marketing and Design Agency course and is staffed by students, supervised by experienced faculty, and is dedicated to providing exceptional service at no cost.
“I love this class!” says Kristina Stevens ’22, an interdisciplinary studies major who is concentrating on both graphic design and marketing. “It really speaks to my skills and is helping me develop them.”
Stevens and other upper-level students are practicing what they have learned through prior coursework. Interdisciplinary agency teams are set up to work with community businesses and nonprofits on a full range of potential assignments, including generating marketing materials, implementing social media, website creation and expansion, online advertising and e-mail campaigns, videography, public relations and event planning, and market research.
Plymouth Marketing and Design Agency’s three faculty members model the synergy produced by combining different strengths and talents for students who similarly hail from different disciplines. Professor Pamela Anneser’s professional graphic design repertoire is complemented by that of business faculty members Denise Hutchins and George Pettinico, whose respective areas of industry expertise include organizational and strategic communications, event planning, and digital marketing and consumer behavior, among others.
“It’s pretty cutting edge, not only to bring together such an interdisciplinary group of students and professors but to run an agency that handles this wide a swath of purposes,” says Pettinico. “Having all three of these great professors critique my work is really great,” adds Stevens.
The course can be taken for two semesters in order to ensure project continuity. Stevens is among the returning students who are anticipated to play leadership roles this spring.
Waterville Valley Resort is one of two local ski areas that are now agency clients. “They are excited to work with us to come up with marketing ideas to better connect with college students in general,” says Pettinico. A social media influencer strategy is under development. The plan is to identify young ski and snowboard enthusiasts who have good online profiles and followings, then to equip them with GoPro cameras to capture high-quality action. The influencers will receive free half-day passes in exchange for posting their content.
The agency is also working with Gunstock Mountain Resort on several projects, including an ambitious “Fire and Ice” event to tout the slope’s night skiing. A laser show, torch procession, pyrotechnics, and fire pits for marshmallow toasting are some of the “fire” options under consideration, and ice sculptures and snowman contests may be among featured “ice” activities. However it shakes out, it’ll be a fun and highly promotable party.
“It’s been a great experience working with students in PSU’s Marketing and Design Agency class,” says Kristen Lodge, Gunstock’s sales and marketing director. “The students are excited to work in marketing, and they have created top-notch marketing content for us to use.”
With its focus on project-based work that extends beyond the walls of the classroom, interdisciplinarity that involves students from different majors, and use of low- or no-cost course materials, the course fits neatly within the University’s Cluster Learning model. Students also get real-time, real-world feedback on their work. “They will soon be seeing the social media messages they created on Gunstock’s sites,” says Pettinico. “It’s really motivating for students to see the fruits of their labors become reality.”
“The course exemplifies Cluster Learning,” confirms Stevens. “I have some classmates who have never taken a graphic design course and others who have never taken marketing, and they’re learning to work with those with much different skill sets. “
Other projects include designing car wraps for “vehicle to grid” cars that will eventually enable PSU to upload electricity to the New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC). Students are identifying vendors and securing price quotes, and will soon present their findings and concepts. Another involves research for the University’s Communications and Marketing Office. Plymouth Creative will be proposing social media refinements based on focus group takeaways gleaned from fellow students.
“We wanted to create a real-world experience to prepare students for their careers,” says Pettinico. “By creating this agency that offers a lot of services to real clients with real deadlines, students get a sense of what their careers can be.”
Stevens is among the students taking the course again next semester and is excited to keep working on the draft Plymouth Create website. “The best thing for a senior like me to do is actually work, producing pieces they can show clients after they graduate.” She and her classmates will also have a portfolio of course-specific work to introduce as they begin their careers.