What did I do on my summer vacation? Create a virtual public relations and marketing agency, Husky Communications!

Many of us may recall the ‘what did I do on my summer vacation’ essay question at the beginning of the school year. For 17 graduate students in our Digital Media and Corporate and Organizational Communication programs, the summer break was an opportunity to do something very consequential.

With the guidance of our digital marketing expert and instructor, Christina Inge, they designed a brand identity and website for our Virtual PR Firm (VPRF).

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Northeastern’s Virtual PR Firm — redefining the term ‘experiential’

We’ve just finished the first year of our Virtual Public Relations Firm (VPRF). Based on both achievements and feedback from everyone involved, it was a good one that has us planning for bigger and better things as the new school year approaches.

Nearly three dozen students participated in some phase of VPRF work on behalf of two clients: Neuron, a San Franciso-based UX design firm founded by Northeastern alumni and the university’s own Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Laboratory (BATL).

For our clients, the experience was similar to working with a small PR agency helping them to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. Under the guidance of instructors, who also are industry professionals, the students first developed a research report, then created a strategic PR plan, and ultimately designed and delivered a wide range of promotional content.

“I think the students were superb,” said Jared Auclair, Director of BATL. “They produced really high quality work.”

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Making a difference through experiential education

For their capstone project, students in the MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication program must engage with a project sponsor to address a communication challenge. Over a 12-week period, students apply a consultative methodology and their communication knowledge and skills in an experiential learning process.

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Nicole Bernstein

I recently asked Nicole Bernstein, an alumna of our program, and one of six Northeastern College of Professional Studies students recognized for the excellence of their experiential projects in the past academic year, about her capstone experience.

For her Fall 2019 capstone project, Nicole Bernstein worked with CareerAgility, a boutique Diversity and Inclusion consulting firm, which was founded, as its website notes “with a passion for ensuring women and people with diverse backgrounds have an equal voice and equal advancement opportunities in the workplace. We believe companies are more innovative, competitive, and financially successful when the work environment is diverse and inclusive.” Continue reading “Making a difference through experiential education”

Can social network and semantic analysis enhance organizational performance?

Over the past 10 years I have been involved in projects where we used e-mail based social network analysis and a “virtual mirroring process” to let employees learn about FrancescaGrippatheir own communication behavior tracked through e-mail analysis. Through a process of open dialog, employees are provided with a unique opportunity to constantly discuss group dynamics and leadership behavior that are usually taken for granted. This process is essential to nurture the creation of communities where clients and employees participate in a process of knowledge co-creation.

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In the eye of the Covid-19 storm: The perspectives of 3 HR leaders

The expression ‘we’re in uncharted waters’ seems very apt during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are plenty of questions to ask. What does this mean for me and my organization? What will be the next normal? In unprecedented situations like this one, there are no simple answers, no ‘best practices’ that we can turn to. But this is also a time when professional networks demonstrate their value. We can share experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t and brainstorm ways to address new challenges…and old ones.

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How has COVID-19 impacted consumer behaviors & organizational responses

From panic buying to online shopping, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviors during very short period of time.  Since I teach Consumer Behaviors in the online environment in our graduate program, I would like to discuss the emerging consumer behaviors, analyze the underlying factors that drive the behavioral changes, and provide suggestions about organizational response strategies.  So far, four consumption trends have emerged.

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When communication matters most

How are communication leaders around the world responding to the Covid-19 pandemic? What do they see as challenges? And how will they adapt to a post-pandemic environment?

GarzaThese are some of the topics we discussed with Artemio Garza, who leads Egon Zehnder’s Communication Officers practice in North America. Artemio is a core member of Egon Zehnder’s Marketing and Digital practices. Based in Miami, his special focus is on multi-unit retail, consumer goods, and private equity companies.

Carl Zangerl (CZ): Tell us about what your job at Egon Zehnder entails.

Artemio Garza (AG):  Our mission at Egon Zehnder is to create a better world through great leadership. I have a marketing and communication background myself, and I advise companies on how to structure their communication functions and help identify people who can assume leadership roles.

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Shifting to a digital transformation mindset

We’ve been talking about the term ‘digital transformation’ for a long time. Many organizations have been re-thinking how they do business, how they interact with customers, and how they engage their own people.

Digital TransformationThe realization is now setting in that the current Covid-19 crisis is accelerating the pace of digital transformation. I regularly turn to McKinsey for insights on what’s going on in the economy and organizational change.

Here’s what they they are thinking: “The coronavirus pandemic is a humanitarian crisis that continues to take a tragic toll on people’s lives. There’s no denying it is also acting as a catalyst for change—economic, societal, personal, and corporate—on a scale not seen since wartime. The scale of the change and the speed at which it’s happening is shining a bright light on the fact that companies are facing a once-in-a-generation shift. And for all the uncertainty about what the future will look like, it’s clear already that it will be digital.”

So what are the implications of all of this us, as communicators?

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What to do when the learning curve becomes even steeper

During my tenure on the board of the Boston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, I had the good fortune of meeting and staying in touch with Jodi Freedman. Jodi was a communication leader at the Bose Corporation for many years and recently accepted a position in an entirely different sector (healthcare) and during Freedmanan extraordinary time (the Covid-19 pandemic).

She posted the following article on LinkedIn, and her reflections deeply resonated with me — facing the challenges of learning about a new organization and sector, compounded by those unleashed by a profound crisis.

I’d like to share Jodi’s reflections with you:

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Communicating with donors during extraordinary times

Stacy Raine (1)

In her blog, alumna Stacy Raine, CPS’17, shares her perspectives on many issues facing communicators, especially those working in the non-profit sector.

In her most recent post, she discusses communication with donors during the coronavirus pandemic and makes several excellent suggestions.

I couldn’t agree more with Stacy: “We’re all in this together, helping each other get through a very tough time. I keep hearing that we need to “be human” together, and I couldn’t agree more. Be human, focus on helping people get through this crisis through providing opportunities to connect and learn, and build engagement with your donors.”

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