Blog Culture/Agency Life

‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO – The Final Lecture

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Phil NardonePresident & Chief Executive Officer

This past week marked our final lecture class of the semester. Tomorrow will be my last class with my students where they will present their final project. As I mentioned in my first post of this series, we switched things up a bit this year, changing the curriculum, assignments throughout the semester, and revamped the final project completely.

In previous years, the final project has functioned like a traditional essay assignment based off a hypothetical client scenario, which does not reflect the type of work my students would be doing at a PR agency or at an in-house PR position. So tomorrow, my students will present a series in-class of analyses and recommendations, based off a real client. They are inheriting a PR position and need to design an integrated communications strategy, with free reign to suggest a variety of communications tactics (social posts, infographics, sponsored content, traditional media, etc.),

We changed the exam for good reason. In order for my students and all Millennials to succeed after graduation, they need an education that is hands-on and prepares them for what is ahead. This new assignment will help them do that by making them think critically about their new PR position and utilize key skills that they will need to leverage as they begin their careers.

By changing the format, we’re trying to break down how Millennials are traditionally educated and trained on PR, which will hopefully help to break down any misconceptions they might have of the workplace. This is why the conversation around Millennials has been a common theme throughout my posts. I think that is because we, as a population, are just finally starting to understand this dynamic group of individuals. Millennials have gotten a bad reputation. However the more they are studied, the more we realize that Millennials aren’t who we initially thought they were.

Back in November when the Midterm elections took place, I distinctly remember the headlines from the next day, the majority of which were perplexed at the fact that Millennials did not turn out to vote. Stephen Lurie’s headline in The Washington Post said it all  “Millennial turnout is crucial. Too bad politicians have no idea what young people care about.” Politicians might be relieved to know that they aren’t the only ones who are confused.

Last fall, our client SAP, in conjunction with Oxford Economics released Workforce 2020, an independent global study that examined the current state of the workforce and identified six workforce issues facing companies, one of which pertained to the fact that Millennials are misunderstood. If you want to see what I mean, take this fun quiz that the team here at PAN pulled together based on the millennial findings from the study. I took the quiz myself and have to say, I was surprised at some of the findings and what myths I myself thought were true about Millennials. One of my biggest surprises when taking the quiz is that Millennials value corporate loyalty just as much as other generations – so as professionals and educators, we need to change how we tailor our environments – and our curriculum – to better meet their needs. Those changes in process start in college, and continue during tomorrow’s student presentations.

I’m looking forward to hearing the students present tomorrow and seeing what lessons from this past semester have had the most impact on them. I’m curious to see how this year’s final projects compare to last year’s and will certainly be taking notes for next year, so I can continue to provide my students with a curriculum that best suits their needs and learning style.

This blog post is part of larger series, ‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO, from PAN President & Founder, Philip A. Nardone, Jr., as he chronicles his experience teaching two capstones classes at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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