Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What about IMC?

As Northwestern University's Medill School sorts out the future of Journalism and its business related academic and professional partners of advertising, public relations and direct database marketing we are considering expanding more business fields of study into the undergraduate program. Over 30 years ago such a program existed but the last age of excitement in Journalism (Watergate) probably helped to move the undergraduates out of "harm's way" with only a concentrated program of journalism.

In discussions about the new offerings of courses to undergraduates I note: Our undergraduate program does not show the most recent work of the IMC faculty to offer classes to J students with a certificate or "minor" for non-J students. I hope that we can secure a pre-accreditation review of our ideas so that we might push the limit more on the range of new courses offered in the IMC category to J students - especially related to the highly related field of PR. If the new courses can be listed it will help the new and current J students to see the opportunities for careers using communications. We also need data on the career paths of J undergraduate and graduate students from 1-5 years out and 6-10 and 11 and beyond.

The IMC program shows nine so-called "branding" courses (there is no sector, professional field or organization for branding) and only 5 courses in the "analytical" realm. The concept of "analytical" was not meant to differentiate qualitative from quantitative disciplines or courses. However, the sorting of them seems to suggest "hard" from "soft". In fact, the Marketing PR class listed under branding requires the use of at least two beta tested softwares to perform analysis of millions of words in messaging about a firm or organization. It is certainly analytical in its recommendations to clients such as Coca Cola, Aidmatrix and others.

We continue to have discussions about the direction of the program regarding the so-called specialties of advertising, public relations and direct marketing. Each of these academic bodies of knowledge are far, far more substantial than IMC as a field but we continue to deny that the market recognizes them as field of work. The memberships in the two leading organizations in public relations exceed 40,000, direct marketing 20,000 and advertising should be comparable. While we declare these professions "dead" the demand for junior, mid and senior level professionals still call for men and women with this knowledge and experience. We are confusing rather than serving the market of firms who hire our graduates. IMC as a self-standing field is still a "nice to have" not a "need to know" in the 21st century marketplace. This is not to say that IMC is not a leading edge example of best practices, but it is "not asked for by name". Pieces of IMC are asked for but that is another story.

We will confuse the undergraduates and their parents (and grandparents) over "what are you studying"? with IMC and we confuse the graduate market with majors in branding and analytics without any supporting work in the jobs in PR, Adv. and DDE they are hired to fill.

We need more conversation on this topic. More to come.

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