The Big Agency: Unit Descriptor

We’ve updated the unit descriptor for The Big Agency: 
 

Creative agencies today are not just looking for creativity; they’re looking for employability. In the agency world, skills such as communication, team working, client relationship building, strategic thinking, project management and customer-centric research, all play an important role in understanding and answering the client brief.

The Big Agency unit will give you the chance to work on a brief provided by one of our industry partners, pitching for the client you want to work on. It will help you build your practical agency skills through a range of account management, research and creative-related tasks, whilst helping you develop your personal skills through the process of self-reflection and personal development planning. Big Agency will help bring to life theories, concepts and models of PR, marketing, branding, advertising and self-development and show how you can apply them.

This unit is assessed on an evidence-based portfolio of work to demonstrate your approach and response to a client’s creative brief and your own personal development: a) in the form of an end-of-year video documenting your work, and b) in the form of self-reflective essays and blogs evaluating your personal and professional goals and achievements.

Image Source: Unsplash

Top Tips for Students on #BigAg16 from @JamesPoulter

For The Big Agency, we are keen to provide students with insights into the 21st century working world. Bex was fortunate to catch James Poulter, Senior Social Media Manager for Lego, and #PremDac16, the other week, and he created the first video for our series, encouraging students to put in the work, and demonstrate passion for their choices in working life.

#BigAg16 Student Blogs

We have asked all the students to write a blog each week, of around 100-200 words, reflecting upon their progress each week, which will be worth 20% of each of their assignments.

We will add further links as students submit their blog URLs

Bex’s Group (Weds am)

Kate’s Group (Weds am)

Mark’s Group (Weds am)

Allie’s Group (Fri pm)

Bex’s Group (Fri pm)

Students might find this blogpost on ‘27+ Legal Sources of Images‘ useful.

Image Source: RGB Stock

The Big Agency: Milestones

This week, students are developing project plans, and have a number of project milestones to place on their Gantt Charts or Kanban Boards. For agencies working with the students, here’s an overview of the timeframe for the unit.

From ‘Week 6’ onwards students will have a ‘stand-up meeting’ at the beginning/end of each session, sharing learning, developments and questions with their peers and tutor.

TEACHING: Motivation: w/c 26/09/16
Introducing ‘The Big Agency’, professional etiquette, Elevator Pitches, motivational theory (Herzberg, Theory X/Y, Maslow) and practice.

TEACHING: Team-Working and Role Theory: w/c/ 03/10/16
Teamworking theories based on Belbin tests, team SWOT, role theory, pitching tips

PITCHING: Students pitch for projects:  w/c 10/10/16
Students informed at end of week. Should contact client asap to introduce selves, and indicate keen to discuss once have completed following week’s session.

TEACHING: Interrogating the Client Brief: w/c 17/10/16
Pitch feedback, clarifying the client brief, understanding where this fits in the Agency process, preparing questions for your client

TEACHING: Project planning: w/c 24/10/16
Includes client conversations, setting project goals, project planning with Gantt or Kanban, identifying stakeholders, assessing risk management

PAPERWORK: PDP: 26/10/16

FEEDBACK: PDP/Blogs: w/c 07/11/16 (in session)

PAPERWORK: Ethics Form: w/c 14/11/16 latest

RESEARCH: Desk-based: Bulk prior to w/c 28/11/16
Includes library, database and internet-based research, client conversations: competitor analysis utilizing Porter’s Five Forces and PESTEL, clarifying any legal issues.

RESEARCH: Primary Research: Complete data collection by w/c 12/12/16
Includes defining whether qualitative or quantitative research should achieve your aims, and supported preparation of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, focus groups, or other, and the professional and ethical collection of data.

ASSIGNMENT: PDR: 14/12/16
Including peer assessment in sessions

FEEDBACK: PDR: w/c 09/01/17 (online and in session)

RESEARCH: Analyse data: by w/c 23/01/17
Includes audience persona development (2-3 minimum), redefine marketing objectives, learn how to re/write an effective brief. Demonstrate critical thinking, including an understanding of what is long-term marketing practice, and where ‘digital disruption’ has changed practice.  

CREATIVE: by w/c 13/02/17
Ideas development in brainstorming sessions, developing ideas, creating strategy and/or content as appropriate to the project. 

TEACHING: Reflective Practice: w/c 27/02/17
Designed to help you with theory to support the creation of your final assessed piece of work. 

CREATIVE: by w/c 20/03/17
Continue producing content, tweaking as possible – analysing whether campaign ideas are working, including suggestions for the future

ASSIGNMENT: Creative Video: w/c 27/03/17 with in-session feedback
Including peer assessment in sessions

ASSIGNMENT: Reflective Report: 26/04/17

OPTIONAL: Excel Qualification: 26/04/17

FEEDBACK: Reflective Essay: 17/05/17 (online)

Image Source: Stockfresh

#BigAg16 Projects

We’re very excited by the full list of projects that we have pulled together for The Big Agency this year, designed to help our students develop skills for the 21st century workplace, improving their employability along the way:

Extra thanks to Rebecca Rae from Reason Digital who has provided me with a couple of videos for the students to watch, on demonstrating your passions, and the importance of networking.

It’s not too late to add projects to the list, although absolute latest is 5pm, Thursday 22nd September.

Image source: JISC.

Term is Coming #BigAg16

The deadline for any projects that your company, charity, agency would like to put forward for Level 5 (second year) marketing, PR, advertising/ branding and digital students is this coming Friday (16th) – fill in the form!

Employers – So Far

We’re grateful to the following companies who have already provided us with project briefs:

We have others in the system, and will give a shout out to them next week. We will have around 23-28 groups of students.

Employers –  Two Opportunities

Projects – A project to last from October 2016 to March 2017, which a member of your staff could do in around 24 days, a group of 4-5 students will do, supported by their tutor acting as creative director. Read more.

Videos – Throughout the year, I hope to collect vox-pops with employers and agencies, to inspire, and give reality checks, to students as to what to expect once they go into the workplace (either for sharing within private Moodle, or preferably on this blog). Read more.

Students – Get Involved

Students, you will be undertaking these projects throughout the year, spending the first two weeks looking at motivation and team building theory, pitching for projects in week three, and then undertaking the project according to the schedule you develop and agree with your tutor. Read more, and don’t forget Moodle (log-in required)

Image Source: JISC

Example #BigAg16 Project: Beyond Chocolate

bc-demo-logoWe are looking forward to welcoming projects from   and  aspects, and have signed off an example project from Beyond Chocolate, an anti-diet organization, encouraging body confidence, as our first project.

Please describe the specific project that you would like students to undertake (“the Project”) (Max 500 words)

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve helped thousands of women change their relationship with food, for good. We have been there ourselves and know that dieting simply does not work. We created the Beyond Chocolate course in 2000 not just to help women lose weight but to change our relationship with food and our bodies for the long term.” The website has been updated significantly over the past couple of years, building upon learning from previous websites, incorporating online courses, blog posts, and other resources, and this is encouraging more engagement/interaction. We have Twitter and Facebook pages, both largely managed by volunteers, which we seek to keep frequently updated, and an Instagram account which is rather neglected. We first offered a Groupon deal in 2015 which was very successful (so continues), undertake physical events, and feature in the press. The two co-founders are a psychotherapist (Sophie) and a kitchen coach (Audrey), who have much passion, but limited resources to share their life-changing message.

Each summer the hype for ‘the bikini body’ fills the mass media, although there is a growing push back against this. Beyond Chocolate would like to develop content that contributes to conversations on the mass media around this topic, as well as content that women may feel empowered to share. We are dealing with a sensitive topic that many women don’t necessarily want to share on social media, but when people do come across it, find it incredibly empowering. We would love to connect with new audiences, whilst making best use of the spaces that we already have, improving reach and engagement. We are open to any new ideas or opportunities to extend the reach of the brand.

Convince the students: Why should a student want to undertake this project? (Max 300 words)

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of thousands of women who have continually been told that they are not enough, and that their energies should be directed at keeping their bodies to a certain size/shape? Do you want to use your marketing skills to reach out to a wider group of women and see the ‘way to freedom’ by being released from the prison of diets (which have a 98% failure rate)? Can you be creative in finding low/no budget ways to reach out to people over this sensitive topic around the UK?. We use a range of social media, but know that we could do more. Can you help us develop a campaign strategy to reach out to more women inspired to join up, participate, and gain the confidence to share, around the topic of ‘the bikini body’? In return you will engage with a live project that is growing, offers creative challenges for those with a passion for this topic, engage with a co-founder who has a PR background, and gain excellent experience to enhance your CV.

Download the The Big Agency Company Form Beyond Choc Example.

Submit your own project.

Image Source: Screenshot from @beyondchoc

Agencies: Can you help provide videos?

Agencies! Nothing resonates with students more than hearing from:

  1. Students who have been through it all, and are now successfully employed
  2. Potential employers about ‘what it’s really like’ out there

We have created a resource bank for the students on Moodle, and would like to also share videos on this blog. Some suggestions we already have include a mix of inspiration and reality checks:

  • What attitudes/skills are agencies looking for?
    • What does creativity look like?
    • What does leadership look like?
  • What do different agencies do?
  • What different roles exist within agencies?
  • What are your top 3 tips for students looking to enter marketing careers?
  • What is the latest terminology in use?  E.g. agile/lean methodologies
  • What does project management look like within an agency? What tools are used why/how?
  • How do agencies undertake stakeholder analysis?
  • How do agencies undertake risk analysis?
  • What has ‘digital disruption’ done for the way agencies work?
  • Where does ‘networking’ fit into the picture?

Image source: Free usage, Pixabay

Information for Employers/Agencies

  • Want to help find future talent within the fields of marketing, PR, digital, or advertising and branding?
  • Want to inspire that talent with some real world projects to get their teeth into?
  • Want some creative input into some of your thinking from young people who don’t have any baggage?

This September around 200 undergraduates will start their second year at MMU. Around 60 of them are fortunate enough to undertake a one-day-a-week internship with agencies. For everyone else, we want to recreate some of that experience in the classroom, drawing upon real-world projects/briefs, with teaching staff acting as creative directors. Students will work in groups around their specialist areas: Integrated Comms/General Marketing, PR & Comms, Digital Marketing and Advertising and Branding. All of the work is submitted electronically, creating a portfolio for students to use in their hunt for employment in the future.

Complete the form here.

What is the timescale?

Through ‘til Christmas students are developing skills in motivation and team-work, project management, research and data collection, the competitive environment, and pitching. After Christmas the students get stuck into developing an appropriate creative output (e.g. 60 second YouTube video, 100 social media tweets, series of blog posts, email campaign, crisis response plan).

Students will undertake secondary research to establish competitor analysis, drawing upon PESTEL/Porter’s Five Forces/SWOT analyses, and creating marketing personas as appropriate, primary data collection to establish requirements for the creative output. Throughout this unit students are developing their career-action plans and increasing their employability skills, and you can input into the development of key skills!

The deliverables and milestone markers given to the students are:

  • Projects available for students to examine (mid September)
  • Students allocated projects within workshops after short pitches (early October)
  • Assessment: Students submit PDPs (late October)
  • Research planning starts (early November)
  • Data collection starts (late November)
  • Assessment: Students submit mid-term PDR (mid December)
  • Creative development starts (early January)
  • Assessment: Creative output submitted within workshop for peer review (late March)
  • Assessment: Reflective review submitted (late April)
  • Assessment: Excel Qualification (late April)

Complete the form here.

We need the completed forms from you by Friday 16th September 2016.

What does it cost?

Nothing! Just some of your spare time to brief the students, provide some feedback on what they produce (see dates above), give them some encouragement and maybe (if you like them) a job one day. We may also ask you if you have resources and/or vox pop style videos to share with the student cohort on particular themes, e.g. what skills are you looking for, what agency roles are there, what does leadership look like?

Please note that it will not be possible for the students to do extra work, such as further implementation. If you have an employment opportunity, or want to offer more experience, please discuss this with the students individually.

We would love to collect initial videos by Friday 23rd September, and then throughout the year.

How do I get involved?

Fill in our 2-minute form, and save it by naming it with your organisation name as a MS Word .doc or .docx file.

Expect to be contacted by the successful students from w/c 10th October 2016, when students will be notified which projects they have been successful in obtaining. Projects may be allocated to a maximum of four groups – please see the short ‘Legal Bit’ for more information.

Image source: Wikipedia Commons

*Note: @drbexl who manages this unit will be on leave 15/08-02/09

Student Experience Contracts

We have a simple form for agencies, businesses and charities providing projects to complete:

  1. An explanation of the opportunity/value proposition
  2. A one-page form to complete
  3. Two-pages of brief legal notes
  4. Signatures

Download: The Big Agency Company Form: Student Experience Contract

Download: Creative Brief (Optional)

Image Source: Free to use from Pixabay