Collaboration with Student Life is a win-win for students, university

By Sean McDonnell

Feb. 26, 2018

It isn’t often that students get to see a direct impact come from their classwork, but this past fall 2017 semester, students in COM 447: Promotional Production did just that.

The students collaborated with the Department of Student Life to help put together a marketing campaign for “Fam Fest ’18,” an annual event for students to bring their loved ones to campus.

Each semester, the students in promotional production pick a client, and then split up into different teams and work on competing promotional campaigns.

Last semester, they chose Catherine Tiesling, a campus life & major event specialist at Cleveland State

University, as their client. The class worked on revamping student life’s family weekend.

According to Tiesling, the first family weekend in 2017 had low attendance and wasn’t well marketed. She was excited to have the promotional production class help revamp the event.

“It was a unique opportunity to really make ‘engaged learning’ come to life,” Tiesling said. “I was also excited to see what the students would come up with.”

Tiesling incorporated multiple ideas from both teams of students, including rebranding the event as “Fam Fest ’18.”  She also made changes to the Friday evening of the event to make it more appropriate for adults.

The event, held from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, 2018, brought in 330 unique participants, and 95 families registered and participated.

Tiesling said she was thrilled with the attendance and energy of family weekend.

“This really was the first Family Weekend for Cleveland State,” Tiesling said. “We did a Family Weekend last year, but this was the signature year where we made strides to putting some traditions in place.”

Dominica Essi was one of the students who worked on the campaign for Fam Fest last semester and graduated in December. She said working with a real client, rather than a hypothetical one, creates a different learning experience.

“Having a client really makes you actually think about what you’re putting on to the piece of paper that you’re turning in,” Essi said.

Giavanna Rosa, a recent Cleveland State graduate of and one of Essi’s teammates in promotional production, said that this class was her favorite communication class she had taken.

“Out of all the communication classes I took, I liked this one the most,” Rosa said. “It was a smaller class, which was easier for discussions. Working with a ‘team’ [makes it] much easier to get ideas going.”

Katherine Marusic, adjunct faculty and the instructor of promotional production this year, said that Alumni Relations will be the client spring semester, but the project has yet to determined.


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