3 Reasons Why Every Student Should Take MCOM 170

By: Michael Brito

I’ve been teaching MCOM 170 since 2011, and every semester the curriculum changes. This is mainly due to the dynamics of the digital landscape and how quickly things change. If you are considering taking my class, please read on. I’ll share a summary and general direction of the class with links to more information.

(1) Building Your Personal Brand

This class was designed to ensure you understand the implications of “not standing out” from the crowd. The marketplace is competitive, and you need to do everything possible to differentiate yourself from others just entering the workforce.

At the start of the class, we’ll go through an exercise on optimizing your LinkedIn profile. We’ll go through how to do this in detail. We will also talk about the importance of writing a personal brand statement. I refer to it more as a personal brand narrative since it’s like writing a narrative for a brand or creative campaign.

The homework is minimal. Every week, you will write a post on LinkedIn about a topic we discuss in class. You will learn the mechanics of how to create a LinkedIn post that generates high reach and engagement. The result of the homework assignments will do two things: show me that you understand the material and increase your visibility on LinkedIn simultaneously.

Some students don't take this portion of the class seriously when it’s probably the most important factor in learning long-term for your career.

(2) The Ideals of Brand Storytelling

You can't launch a successful marketing program without a consistent storyline being told across all channels. Internally, this is called a brand narrative.

A brand narrative is a framework that answers three important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • Why should others care?

Sometimes a brand narrative is referred to as a master narrative, brand positioning statement, or manifesto. It’s an internal-facing document meant to inform how a brand talks about itself in all company communications, marketing, and advertising. Most narratives also include key message statements, a series of descriptive statements that provide the brand's unique selling points.

You will be expected to write a personal and company brand
narrative in class.

You will also learn the art of brand storytelling on social media channels, which has challenges due to character limits and customer attention. We'll talk through a "setup" and "pay off" of using the combination of social media post copy and a creative asset.

A setup is how you draw attention to your post. It should spark interest and curiosity. The payoff is what the audience gets from reading/watching your post—information, entertainment, or an actionable item such as a call-to-action (CTA). Comedians always do this, except their payoff is usually called a punchline. Lastly, we will discuss the importance of content analysis in
marketing research and how to use it to inform everything you do. We’ll talk about examples of applying data to inform headlines, keyword research, post copy, and paid search ads.

(3) Learning About the PESO Model

Some marketers use the PESO model to ensure consistent brand messages are distributed across all the brand's channels. It's an integrated marketing framework that can help you look holistically at the entire digital ecosystem and drill down at the channel level. It's an acronym that's broken down by the following:

Paid Media: Paid media includes any type of advertising or promotion that requires a financial investment. This could include paid search ads (PPC ads), sponsored content, native advertising, and paid social media campaigns.

Earned Media: Earned media is the result of a strategic PR strategy. It involves pitching journalists, reporters, and influencers, about company-specific news like product launches, thought leadership, and newsjacking trends in the media.

Shared Media: Shared media is brands' shared space with the community in digital channels. These channels include social networking sites and forums like Reddit. It's the content available in these public spaces that viewers can easily comment on, share, and discuss with each other.

Owned Media: Owned media are channels owned by brands like websites, emails, and mobile applications. These channels enable brands to continue conversations with their audiences and to keep them engaged. Brands can also use these channels for customer service and share content like blogs, whitepapers, or any other educational content.

We'll also explore B2B influencer marketing and how B2B creators disrupt the market. We'll talk in-depth about the similarities and differences between consumer and B2B brands and how they are activating programs. We will go through several real-life case studies and discuss the challenges and opportunities of managing influencer marketing programs.

We'll also spend some time walking through a few influencer marketing platforms. In some classes, we may even get a demo directly from the software company, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions and use the software.

You will learn that the connective tissue of the PESO model is the content. The narrative is the most important piece of the model.

Developing Powerful Digital Campaigns and Strategies

Over the semester, we will look at successful digital marketing campaigns from companies like Apple and Nike. We’ll discuss key takeaways you can use to develop your creative and digital marketing plan.

We’ll also go in-depth on the importance of understanding your target audience and how to use data to inform creative campaigns. You will learn about consumer segmentation and psychographics.

At the end of the semester, you will have an opportunity to show off the work that you did by developing a digital marketing program for a company.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're an undergraduate student majoring in advertising, or a graduate student in the Mass Communications Program, this class will give you the insights and knowledge needed to be successful.