Integrated Marketing Communications Schultz / Marketing communications

Integrated Marketing Communications Schultz

Robert Lauterborn

Most people would be content to stay in the exciting world of advertising, but Schultz found agency life tedious. As he puts it, “Ad agencies are not as creative as they think. The business is extremely repetitive. Every year, we’d develop another campaign for the same product.” Promoted to managing branch offices, he found the work even less of a joy as he spent the days negotiating paper supply orders or mediating employee disputes. He knew it was time to move on. So he took his saved earnings and went off to Michigan State to obtain his Masters, where it seems things went so well that he decided to stay on and get his Ph.D. In fact, he took to university so completely that he never left – becoming a professor himself in 1977 at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Engaged in speaking tours and seminars since grad school, he eventually set up a consulting arm called Agora, Inc., in 1981 to handle outside events and client projects. This direct access with the business community has allowed him to add a real-time, real-world aspect to his students’ coursework. No dusty, crusty projects for Professor Schultz’s class. Instead the students get access to projects that are currently stumping the experts.

Anticipating cynical asides, Schultz hastens to explain the benefit to the student in this arrangement. “This is not about letting my students do the work. Rather this is an opportunity for them to engage in solving current problems.”

And the results may be mutually beneficial. Schultz says he’s often surprised by the insights his students add to a project. He admits that sometimes they are off the wall, but often they suggest ideas that reflect a fresh mind at work – one that has been unhindered by years of corporate think or fear of corporate ridicule.

For example, he recently presented his students with a pharmaceutical problem. The client thinks the problem lies with the brand. However, the students examined the evidence and decided the problem was in fact within the whole category. Schultz attributes these “eureka” moments to the students’ education combined with a rare opportunity to view the situation from outside without the baggage of a corporate background.

He goes on to point out that in the absence of these types of opportunities the student merely studies what’s already been achieved and chewed over in case study analyses, or worse, trains for a future job based on the specs of the industry.

“To a certain extent, too many universities have turned themselves into trade schools, rather than teaching life skills. Part of the problem is that businesses...

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