Saturday, June 26, 2010

Putting the "C" back in IMC - Communication Ideas for the Curriculum at Northwestern

Putting the “C” Back in Graduate IMC:  The Need for a Communication-Based Theoretical Approach to Teaching Integrated Communications  in the IMC Department.
Clarke L. Caywood, Ph.D.  June 25, 2010
The informal title of this report is “Putting the ‘C’ Back in IMC”.  The more formal title states that there is a need to consider a focus on communications theory, policy, strategies and, of course, tactics as a cornerstone of what is taught in the Medill Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) graduate level curriculum. 
The report was primarily motivated by recent testing of all IMC graduate students on their knowledge and skills in communications.  The same test has been used by over 200 corporations to determine the success or failure of business career promotion and advancement. Demand for the test and the instruction that accompanies it has recently increased. 
In the IMC Department, the same issues exist.  The very recent curriculum changes required that all IMC students (not just PR specialists or those choosing an elective in PR) be required to take an editing, writing, storytelling and communications strategy class. The change-over was dramatic from a class involving fewer than 25 students to required core class of 90 in the full-time program and 35 in the part-time program.
As part of this review, there is a perception that the single current course labeled “communications” may need to be revised with more “theory” and rhetorical standards instead of the tested remedial skills that are emphasized with exercises and knowledge transfer using new digital research competencies.  The report includes some relevant history of the journey of communications education in IMC.
Evolution of ‘the’ Communication Course in IMC
Each module is taught as a separate subject in two different semesters, with business writing being taken up first followed by business presentations in the following semester. Unfortunately, we have noted over the years a decline in the mastery of the English language, making it more and more difficult for students to express their ideas logically and clearly in both written and spoken (verbal and non verbal) modes of communication. (From a global colleague who teaches IMC at an highly ranked Asian private university)
For 20 years, the IMC graduate program has offered as an elective PR course a specific communications skills and knowledge class. The class was designed, developed and taught with the joint effort of faculty in Medill Journalism (primarily George Harmon) and IMC (Clarke Caywood).  Other adjunct and clinical faculty have also taught the course as it expanded to be offered as an option to non-PR students.
The course journey on communications skills and knowledge began in 1992. Then Assistant Professor Clarke Caywood noted that one of his students had been “let go” (quaint term in the early ‘90s) because she could not write in the “Medill short form news style”.  The student had been a successful policy shop, long form writer in Washington D.C. before returning to graduate school. Her short tour of duty in a small Houston PR agency, run by a Medill alumna, was followed by her working as a successful writer and manager in another policy and grants operation.  She was a strong writer but not a marketing or journalism style writer.  More careful placement questions were added to the process after that experience. We were somewhat reluctant to say that IMC students were Medill students at that time even though the relationship was critical to the PR students and to the other IMC student more than they knew.  
Determined not to “embarrass” the Medill School;  Caywood added to his  basic PR class a “writing laboratory” commonly used in journalism schools for PR and Advertising majors.  Since there are a number of successful public relations writing books, the model was not very radical. However, it was necessary.
At the request of Caywood, George Harmon, as director of the news and editing curriculum with the support of Dean Mike Janeway, was given teaching credit for working with the IMC students taking the Public Relations sequence. The number of students was usually 20-25.  The lab was designed with additional class hours over the usual two classes per week of 1 hour and 50 minutes each class. The key decision was that the lab grades constituted a significant portion (up to 25%) of each student’s grade in the course.  Student performance improved and Professor Harmon earned an enviable reputation for strengthening communication abilities in the IMC program.
Variations on the course concept evolved including offering a second PR class for non-PR IMC students with the writing lab. However, some students who were in their fifth quarter often complained that they should not have to be subject to writing standards. They believed from their past grades in IMC classes and past experience that they were “strong writers”.  However, data from the validated Harmon pre- and post-test of AP writing and communication skills proved the opposite.
The class was also offered on a voluntary basis to our international students early in the new century.  It could not be considered a success since it was optional and proof of grading results and success were difficult.  The IMC faculty attitudes, at this time, were most represented by this quote “they should know how to write before they are admitted”. An additional quote was that “the course was a high school level writing course”.  While such statements had kernels of truth in them; the problem still existed.   
The frustration stimulated questions through which the admissions process was 
challenged, the TOEFEL scores were challenged and other core classes were challenged.  The subject of good communications has been a heated one in the IMC Department.  The heated discussion among a freely speaking faculty was actually healthy.
Can the success or failure of a writing and oral communications class be measured? The faculty teaching in this area would claim that the measures of success or failure in the communications class are probably as clear, if not more clear, than the success or failure of the statistics classes.  Using a pre- and post-test examination developed by Professor Harmon, the scores of the students (and in some cases the faculty) can be shown to be exceedingly low.  Mean scores of 30 are recorded with a range of 10-50 before the class is taught.   
The classes demand a “write, edit and rewrite” formula of 9 assignments (totaling 1400 graded papers) for 90 students in 10 weeks. We believe we can show that the results of a rigorous class double and triple the final scores of the students.
Clearly the students in the master’s class learn to master the standards of the AP style book (the standard of thousands of global businesses) and the standards of persuasive communications demanded by various assignments and metrics in the course.  Still, the faculty teaching the course believe that the work of the graduate students in IMC is not equal of the work of sophomores taking basic writing and communications courses in the Medill school.  Improvements can be made.
The most recent efforts to improve the communications knowledge and skills of IMC graduate students still reveal that writing is the key and most obvious weakness of the students. However, their oral skills to even tell a 3-minute story about themselves, is also revealingly weak.  Their ability to apply expensive and inexpensive software to improve the clarity and conciseness (readability) of their work is stronger. Their ability to evaluate a company’s blog site or other communications from “competitors” has improved also with beta test software used in the class.
Some IMC faculty have acknowledged that the students now have the ability to operate “word databases”.  This is high praise indeed in the data driven IMC program, but it is not enough.
The challenge continues to grow.  Asked by the Department Chair, Tom Collinger, to primarily review the single core course with the content title communications in the curriculum, the author requested a redefined mission and broadened the assignment to illustrate the changing context of the department curriculum.   
Additionally, we also discussed the need to redesign the IMC 454 course.   I’m asking you to participate in, and help lead a curricula review of that course.  The goal is produce a new syllabus for use in 2010-2011.   Doing so will require a review of the current course, and student feedback, and will also take input from industry leader(s) regarding topics on Communications and Persuasive messages.  It should also include a literature review of similar course work in this field, in order to produce a new syllabus.  This review should include participation from IMC and Medill Journalism faculty, (we can discuss who); current students, former students, and industry practitioners.  Finally, as we talked, we’d hope that the final recommendations may also include what should be added to the student learning experience on this general topic that might be better suited in workshops, labs, and/or other classes.
This report finally offers a specific model of a syllabus (in fact two syllabi). The focus on a single course requires a tremendous amount of work in one course to support the promise of graduate studies in communication. The second syllabus is broadened to illustrate that no single class or consulting training can address all the ailments or missing elements in the communications-based curriculum of a program called Integrated Marketing Communications.
The lead in this report is taken from the negotiated mandate:  Finally, as we talked, we’d hope that the final recommendations may also include what should be added to the student learning experience on this general topic that might be better suited in workshops, labs, and/or other classes”.
The barriers to the assignment that helped to redefine the issue included, 
1.     A slippery definition of communications and integration among independent minds,
2.     the large number of theories that would need to be covered to describe the loose term “persuasive communication” (up to 17). 
3.     the research-based push back on the concept of one-way  asyncratic communications and the paucity of courses in the IMC curriculum mentioning communications.
 One finding is that over the past 20 years the subject of communications has likely diminished to a smaller percentage of the content of the IMC curriculum.  This is due in part to the unintended consequences of other independent curricular actions:
1. The elimination of introductory courses in the communication fields of advertising, public relations and direct marketing which each operated from a slightly different set of communication based theoretical and rich strategic perspectives, and  
2. The battle to restore more database, marketing, general IMC and analytical courses in the curriculum.  The response to the January 2009 IMC internal curriculum report authored by Ed Malthouse to rebalance the core classes with the electives continues to argue for more statistical and analysis based classes.
This report might be considered a continuation of the Malthouse effort.  However, the report argues for a balance of more communications classes. Both reports will undoubtedly have a role in the accreditation visits this coming year.   
Assumptions Regarding the Design of a Contemporary Communication Class
I seek professionals with a strategic approach to communication.  That starts with an understanding of the audience and how that audience behaves.  Then, I look for someone who approaches the opportunity of affecting behavior (by either reinforcing positive perceptions or mitigating negative perceptions) with communication goals, strategies and tactics that are measurable.  (From a senior executive who teaches and hires our students)
1.     Communications is a critical intellectual and skill competency for IMC students.
2.     Our traditional clients (agencies, corporate communications and marketing communications) demand the strongest possible communications competency. (See quotes from experts in the field in the report and the appendix.)
3.     Communications is a competitive professional advantage  for IMC compared to more general MBA program graduates.
4.     Communications is a competitive advantage for IMC compared to more specialized market and marketing research degree programs.
5.     The support of teaching communication theories and concepts will strengthen the strategic and intellectual problem-solving quality of IMC students.
As a department and even as a school we seem to have drifted away from the core intellectual distinctions of IMC and even journalism. Our ability to produce research and new thinking in the intellectual field of communications has been dry. Even as Mike Janeway (and most deans) searched for a way to differentiate Medill from the School of Communications (most degree holders in this field know the debate) the term “professional communications” does not seem to be rich enough to describe what IMC and Journalism have been or, more importantly, will be.
In the past, and perhaps today, the reason graduate schools can offer one year or nearly one year master’s degrees was because the candidates knew enough about communications from previous degree work. They often had an aptitude for the field that permitted some students to “master” the field in a year to 15 months. Medill’s history up until 1988 of offering a short 9-month program for those with an undergraduate degree in advertising allowed for this approach. However, the growth of the disciplines of marketing, communications and analytics has made such short programs more difficult – or so it appears.
Today we are searching for ways to provide more coursework in the same time of 15 months that we have used in the past.  The growth of knowledge or our IMC expansionist view of our field, suggests that a longer program might be useful, but the cost of a private education has threatened the value of a graduate degree.  Opportunity costs, placement delays and tuition are too great to justify the degree in some cases with the exception of part-time degrees. We need new approaches to IMC education including distance learning.
Definition of Communications

For this audit, communications is defined:  Communication is a process of transferring information from one entity to another. Communication processes are sign-mediated interactions between at least two agents which share a repertoire of signs and semiotic rules. Communication is commonly defined as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs".

The field of communication is typically broken into three distinct camps: human communication, mass communications, and communication disorders [4]
Using these standards of the organization of communication based knowledge gives the IMC field a very narrow definition of itself. The following feedback from a communications leader in one of the top branded businesses illustrates a practical, less theoretical, definition of the power and structure of communications:
First and foremost, the ability to write -- tight, no jargon and to the point -- has never been more important and is growing more scarce by the day, especially among MBAs. It's an ongoing indictment of some of the foremost programs in the country that require little or no competency in the written word. From a PR perspective, as media channels proliferate and become ever more granular, the more conversant your candidates can be, based on personal experience or immersion in the latest social, viral, video and experiential media, the better equipped they will be to succeed in this industry. An understanding of media management chain of command, channel scope of influence and prioritization is critical. They need to know how the media work and how to best deploy limited resources for the greatest possible impact.

In today's environment, in which Wall Street becomes increasingly intertwined with Main Street and Capitol Hill, you are wise to emphasize the essential interaction of shareholder communications, government and regulatory relations, and issues and crisis management.
This also requires an understanding of public opinion polling and design, a very different methodology than market research.

A field that is exploding almost as quickly as social media is corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability or in today's parlance, ESG -- environmental, social and corporate governance. ESG criteria measure the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a corporation by socially responsible investors and are driving corporate strategic decisions and direction more profoundly than ever before.

Finally, the industry-specific insight that may be most important of all -- except for writing of course -- is an understanding and ability to determine and document the business outcomes of public relations.  This involves measuring PR's contribution to the bottom line, as well as how PR positively affects reputation and brand equity. These are elusive and still evolving metrics, but the ability to quantify the impact of a program is essential to its acceptance and success.  (From a senior large agency leader who knows our students).

A List of Seventeen Viable Communication Theories for Course Content Audits
The value of the course (Persuasive Communications – Winter 2010) was to learn to write in a pithy style to a range of target audiences.  The lab was also useful for practice. Work on competitive rhetoric in business at  Colorado University used a book I would recommend (listed on new syllabus).  (Current student in IMC Class of 2010)
A broad outline of 17 dominant theories in the field of communications illustrates why there are two Northwestern schools with the word communications in their titles or department titles at Northwestern.  Only one of the schools (Communications) has a national reputation for considering the dominant communications literature over time in its research and teachings. This report illustrates why the singly titled Medill School of Journalism is exploring its future role in communications research. It is also a response to the most recent accreditation audit of the school.   
There is a debate over the co-existence of two schools of communication including Journalism-Mass Communications in Big Ten schools. The debate is being relived with the challenge to the theories and concepts in IMC of “mass communications”.
Each of the 17 theories of communications listed below, if explored from our world view, provides intriguing ideas for discussion with informed graduate students.  The value of these theories is that they provide the intellect, rationale and basis for creating tools and tactics that can apply the theory to professional practice. While many new theories may not have engendered operational tactics, most tactics cannot be defended or explained without a theoretical framework.  In the appendix is a list of courses in the communications field (more theoretical in nature) taught at Northwestern and Syracuse (two leading private schools).  Courses introductions, like the following, illustrate that communication theory can be applied: 
This course examines theories and research dealing with communication in formal organizations and institutions. Various models of organizational communication are introduced, as well as historical and current research in the field. Students learn to analyze and integrate theory and research and apply what they learn to current organizations
What are the dominant theoretical hypotheses in communications?  What likely IMC questions could be asked?  The following list could be the cornerstone of any number of classes in a new Medill and IMC curriculum. The list is impressive and intriguing as contributed by Medill Assistant Professor Rachael Mersey and applied by Professor Clarke Caywood:

Comprehensive List of Contemporary Research-based Theories of Communications and Potential Integrated Communications Applications
1.     Uses and gratifications: People use media to fill personal and social needs. Can the newer cable media go too far with Fox and MSNBC?  Is this the new propaganda age?

2.     Agenda setting: The media don't tell people what to think; they tell them what to think about.  Who is setting the industrial policy level agenda? What about extreme cable as product endorsers. Does it make sense?

3.     Agenda melding: People join groups by "melding" agendas. What about Chinese on-line buying clubs for building commercial communities? Can we integrate business and society with common green agenda?

4.     Dissonance: When confronted by new information, people experience mental discomfort and they work to limit or reduce that discomfort. Do I buy gas from the local BP dealer? Should I give my fiancé a diamond (possibly conflict source)?

5.     Reinforcement: If media have any impact at all it is in the direction of reinforcement. Which are the most effective and efficient media for which target?  Is it important to “kiss the frog” six times in this new media world?

6.     Parasocial relationships: People establish social relationships with media personalities. Q scores with Fox, Good Morning America and micro channel hosts. What is the ROI value of “fame”?  Is trustworthiness and branding related?

7. Framing: To make sense of events, we categorize them. “Progressive is the new liberal”. Who uses the term?  The President’s talking about stakeholders. Who defines the context of business and society?

8.     Knowledge gap: The more information in the social system, the more the higher SES groups will gain in knowledge compared to those in lower SES groups. Food deserts, environmental racism, hourly wages from non-union shops - What is sustainable for whom? And, who decides?

9.     Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM): Persuasive messages can be processed using either the central (recipient is motivated) or peripheral routes (recipient is not motivated). Voting compares to which purchases? Is digital buying central?  How do we process increasing numbers of messages, over increasing numbers of channels?

10.                        Adoption: Adopters pass through five steps--awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, adoption.  Is the old model too linear as some IMC experts claim? Isn’t adoption even more important in a widely growing technological, entrepreneurial and innovative economy?

11.                        Two-step flow: Certain members of society are active consumers of media and become opinion leaders who influence others. Does this include bloggers, tweeters, those who are linked or use retweet or Bitly or Tinyurl?

12.                        Cultivation: People who are heavy viewers of TV tend to believe that the "real" world is more similar to the world seen on TV than do light viewers. What are the marketing and policy ethical issues? What about product alignment with the gullible or less cynical viewers (children, elderly, undereducated)?

13.                        Social learning theory: Children learn behaviors by watching them, including watching them on TV.  What balance should IMC put into the system?  What greater damage can advertising do to marketing? Can advertising refocus its power? Doesn’t transparent PR gain in stature?

14.                        Spiral of silence: Public opinion consists of those opinions you can express in public w.o socially isolating yourself.  Will we be allowed to blog about work? Can we be too transparent?

15.                        Symbolic Interaction: People give meaning to symbols and then those symbols control peoples' behavior.  Why aren’t graphics and imagery more important in IMC? What has happened to semiotics in the classroom and research programs of IMC?

16.      16.  Mainstreaming: TV's ability to pull people to a common understanding of an issue. Does this include freedom of speech for corporations? Politically oriented corporate messaging?  How can we have a common understanding in a diverse nation? If it works in China should we use it in the U.S. and vice versa?”

17.       17.Technological determinism: Media communication and the technology it uses help shape the society in which we live.  What is the real effect of a wildly popular magazine in this age such as People Style Watch? What is our perception of our society? Is it the medium or the message again? How does any important issue, product or service become successful in a high tech age?

List and definitions contributed by Assistant Professor Rachael Mersey.

Syllabus Audit of IMC Courses for Communication Theory and Tactical Content
Writing - writing - writing!!   Speechwriting yes but in a corporate
communications role, you need to be the best writer in the company - board of director communications, speeches, press releases, talking points, customer communications, presentations, video scripts, marketing/advertising copy.  The ability to put complex technical information or financial data in layman terms is critical. I think research skills and the ability to interpret material and analyze different situations is also a tremendous asset to a young person entering communications. (From a highly successful alumna)

A careful review of the content of the syllabi of the IMC courses (from the IMC Google database) can be organized into at least two communication based categories: 1. Theoretical or conceptual communications and 2. Tactical communications content.  The former is missing in nearly all the courses; the latter is found in selected course content.  Even using the search word “writing” on the list of all full-time classes in IMC (graduate and undergraduate) finds primarily undergraduate courses.
Each course contains no more or no less a focus on communications (it appears) than their listing below.  If communications is mentioned, it is cited in a common use manner. Tactics are not often listed but assumed as known or taught in the course.  Obviously the syllabi of courses do not tell the entire story. The conclusions here (and elsewhere in the report) must be discussed by the faculty who teach the classes and are experts in the field from IMC and Medill.

Selected Core Classes:
452-020-21 Mulhern F09 Syllabus Full-time .doc Case method with reading related to the cases.  The cases or sections are not labeled communications, but certainly contain elements of sales and consumer communication challenges.
 451-020-21 Malthouse syllabus day_09.pdf. This class begins with objectives that include the necessity of being able to “communicate with members of the marketing research department”.   It is clear that the professor wants the students to master the vocabulary of statistics in order to assist decision-makers. In some respects, the course does provide a strong tool (numbers) orientation to help students in IMC communicate.  The syllabus does not seem to address any of the known theories of communications.
450 Brown Fall '09 Syllabus--IMC Format.doc
 This course, like the statistics course, guides the students to be able to “…communicate with a firm’s financial area”. The method to achieve that goal is not to teach communications but to teach the vocabulary and concepts of the field of finance. The communication goal is to become “literate” in another professional field so that communications can transpire.
455 Weinberger CI Syllabus F 09 1 1.doc  
This course is probably the richest source of social-psychological theory and thinking that might relate to the topic of conceptual communications.  The subject areas are very proximate to the list of communication theory though none of the theories or concepts is mentioned by name. The text book by Solomon (2009) covers some aspects of communication theory.  One specific topic mentioning communications was:  “Self and gender in product and communications appeals”.
IMC 457 Managing the Integration Process Gruber 5th Q Fall09.pdf
 Again, the course is rich in theory and practice of a field that is closely related to communications as a field of study. However, the word communications is not used in the syllabus nor are references to communication theory as currently defined.  This course, along with the 455 course is probably the richest opportunity to include communication theory and competencies in the curriculum.
Win10 FT 454-021 CommPersuasiveMessages HarmonCaywood_1.doc
This course has the most clearly stated title relevant to the inquiry of this report.  The authors have clearly defined the coverage of the topic in two ways: 1. Repeated variations on classic writing and editing assignments well known in business. The difference here from all the other classes is that the work is edited and rewritten by individuals. None of the writing assignments or oral assignments are for groups, which is highly unusual in the IMC program.  2. The second design difference is that the course teaches strategy in communications by showing how to measure written and oral communications in a number of simple to complex quantitative ways. This is also unique to the course except that the more advanced methods are used in the Marketing PR class later taught by Caywood.  There is also a unique pre- and post-test of knowledge of writing to a very high standard that is modeled after writing and communication tests given by employers to applicants.  The course does not mirror the list of communication theories or readings either, but does teach to the theory in the editing model developed by Professor Harmon.
Selected Elective Classes
IMC 458 Law Policy Ethics Hayden
This course includes a very structured format for reviewing legal decisions relevant to IMC.  The format is a clear path to stronger writing to do as the teacher states: “keeping the brief brief.”  The work may be individual depending on the size of the class. It was not when the course was a core class. However, the grading formula does not reflect that the briefs will be graded for more than their content. The teacher has remarked that the content and style are important but that rewrites or edits are not part of the course design.
IMC 464 Intuitive Marketer Zechman 5th Q Fall09.doc
“…students are taught and challenged to express their marketing communication ideas” states the first few words of the syllabus.  As the classes become more specialized and related to the professional practice of IMC, the tactics are clearly expected to be communications grounded. No theory is mentioned.
 IMC 498-027 Global Communications Don Schultz 5th Q Fall 09.pdf
Refreshingly the course includes a reading on “social networks” and more on cross cultural communications conflict. 
IMC 473-020 Inv Relations Hobor 5th Q Fall 2009 syllabus.doc
While the course is known to be demanding on the quality of writing for two papers and more, the course is also aimed at building specific legal and strategic knowledge of the corporate investor field. The mention of communications is very specific:  “The role of investor relations and corporate governance in communicating with investors…” 
IMC 464 The Intuitive Marketer 5th quarter Fall 09
This course is our strongest effort to provide some of our students with the competitive advantages of the more creative master programs at schools like UT-Austin.  The course is clearly creative.  It is not clear if the writing and oral skills of the students are honed or evaluated individually.  Again, a review of courses by a faculty group would allow us to answer the question of which courses support the rigor of business rhetoric.
IMC 442 IMC Capstone Collinger 5th Q DraftFall09.doc
While the solution is required to be an IMC solution the outcome is more generic and does not seem to rely on any communication advantage or concept to organize the strategy. Students are to act as “…consultants leading the strategic marketing plan.”
IMC 472 Marketing Public Relations Spr10 Caywood.docx
This course uses a communication award planning model specifically designed to address dozens of communication questions. The tactics must be communication based whether they are integrated or not (except in the Integrated Communication category). The book and lectures rely on an understanding of the traditional media, use of media and communication (tracking systems) and a full range of A-Z tactics that are specifically communications based.  Only a little theory is covered.
IMC 485 Customer Loyalty Spr10 Wang.pdf
This course uses the word communications in the syllabus more than most IMC classes, but the word social networking is not used in a theoretical or technical manner. Again, the course will certainly result in communication solutions but it does not use communication theory to justify or stimulate the use of specific communication tactics.
Findings of Audit, Review of Expert Comments and Observation
1.     There is a clear absence of the opportunity to demonstrate oral and written communications. Group projects, content grading and the failure to demand rewrites or rework of assignments is a sign that communications is expected to have been taught in another class or assumed in the admissions process.
2.     The direct topic of persuasive theoretical communications is not addressed in the curriculum in any substantive way except as an outcome measurement in the core Harmon/Caywood class. As expected, the courses all use a managerial approach to thinking about a subject and then demand communications based tactics from a specialty area to solve the written cases, live cases or problems.
3.     The list described above of highly credible research topics and theories are not covered in any detail in the Department.  While the list is expansive and would usually require up to 3-4 courses to cover in detail, the Department faculty are not addressing this critical area of the field.  IMC remains primarily atheoretical.
4.     From a curriculum review of two top communications schools, Syracuse and  NU’s Communications Schools seems to be the richest source of courses using the theoretical definition of communications. The rush away from mass communications theory in the IMC program may be the reason that viable theories based on mass communications (and taught in Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications) may no longer be taught at Medill and in IMC.
5.     Topics that are addressed at the conceptual level include onsumer sociology, psychology and anthropology. Marketing management is covered at a nearly theoretical level.  However, there is no focus in the wide range of an estimated 50 IMC graduate courses on the specific topic of communication theory or concepts.  Communication tools without justification are cited in abundance.
6.     When academic textbooks, and not professional trade books, are used the theory of a subject seems much more likely to be addressed in the course.
The following courses in the curriculum seem to contain elements of the theories or at least concepts of communications.  The faculty teaching these core classes can be said to constitute the core communications (or “C”) faculty in the IMC program. These faculty members should be asked in an appropriate way and with sufficient time to discuss their contributions to the “communications framework” of the curriculum.

Understanding the psychology of communication, from attitude formation to attitude change and reinforcement, as well as overcoming resistance to change is something that underlies all communication transactions.  From an understanding of the sociology of communication the manager or marketer can better tailor messages to specific sub-audiences.  An understanding of the rhetorical bases of message creation—from Aristotle to Marx and Gadamer to Homans to Sapir and Whorf—is important in understanding the process of creating and maintaining an argument across cultures and interactions. (From a leading private university communications professor).
In the end, the development of a curriculum cannot be static and mechanistic.  It must be fluid and organic. Communications is a not a “dead language”.  The field, if anything, has been supercharged by the context of technologies, diversity, faith, war, terrorism, disaster and economic tsunamis.  Business communications is more complex than ever. Marketing is more intertwined into the fabric of a disenchanted society.
Our students need explanations. They need reasons for making recommendations and not more atheoretical strategies and tactics. We need leadership in our birthright field of communications augmented by the relevant power of marketing and the rigor of numeric and word databases. We also need leadership on whatever our theory based research and teaching tells us is the next powerful insight to relationship building and behavior.   
The theory check list below will not solve the problem, but perhaps a battle over the checklist from engaged minds will help.  I have one more question (at this time) and then the appendix will take this report and refine it into an open-ended syllabus (or two):    Are we the leading the world in rethinking the role of communications through integration or are we following in the shadow of marketing?  It our choice and the choice of our prospective students.

         Just as customer service is never ‘over,’ managing cash flow is never ‘complete,’ safety is never ‘done;’ so too with effective business communication,   it is on-going and unending.  It is the most used skill used in the workplace. (From a senior communications consultant)
A review of the Medill IMC courses currently taught in the full-time program suggests that the subject of “communications” is not directly or comprehensively taught.  The readings are very, very limited and the use of communication textbooks containing theory is nil. However, the coverage of very traditional tactical applications of communication practice within the fields of advertising, direct marketing and public relations seems to thrive and continue.
We might argue that the recommendations should have been the answers. However, it would be even more presumptuous for the author or sponsor of the study to move too quickly toward another course syllabus to be sacrificed on the altar of limited student experience. We don’t want to take the students by surprise too often.  Recommendations to pre-test the two syllabi included in this report should prevent premature evaluation or application of a course without more rigorous scrutiny. The leaders of the curriculum in IMC have over 165 years of full-time teaching and course and curriculum development experience.
As we have discovered in many topical areas of the curriculum; it may be necessary to be more transparent.  What is communications?
·         We may need to more clearly label the areas of competencies of a student who “masters” the subject matter. What do we expect them to “master”?
  The faculty and students are substantial “risk takers” with respect to pioneering a newer field of study. It is even more incumbent that the faculty and administration be very clear on what areas of advanced competencies are applied to the “core”.  What is the core?
·         We are also compelled to prove that the subjects we teach are connected to advanced practice in the wide range of disciplines that constitute IMC.  Should we acknowledge that the jobs and professional fields of advertising, public relations and direct marketing still dominant the market definition of marketing communications?
A review and endorsement of this study by the faculty should allow more than one of the core classes to cover critical communication theories. Should we also identify which theories fit into other courses?
The audit and course development work should be done with the help of Assistant Professor Rachel Mersey (who should be asked to help teach some elements of a joint journalism and IMC theory module in our classes).  She has expressed a specific goal to co-teach a Journalism/IMC (Medill) course with more applied theory based on the theory section of this report.  Should we integrate within Medill? George Harmon and Rob Mark can contribute to the skill areas in great detail.
·         The work should also include more direct investigation with the prestigious Communications School at NU.  It is suggested that only a combined effort to reintroduce communications to the IMC curriculum can guarantee that the richness of communications theories and tools can be reestablished in the department.  Should we integrate with Northwestern University?  
Draft Design Syllabus of a Course in Integrated Communications
            From a very senior communications executive of a top branded company:  “Let me offer up Walker’s Law: The greater the amount of communication, the less valuable bad communications and the more valuable good communications. Here’s how I got there. Today, many of us communicate essentially from the moment we wake up until we turn out the lights at night, sixteen hours or more. (If you include passive one-way communication, like radio and TV, that number goes even higher.)  This is far more than our grandparents or their grandparents communicated. With sixteen hours of communications a day, only the good stuff cuts through the clutter and gets noticed.
The quickest way to the top in any organization is to be able to express your thoughts concisely and compellingly. Especially for those just starting out, it provides a way to set yourself apart and show your potential in a very tangible and noticeable way.  I continually remind those on my team: “If this e-mail (or memo or presentation or elevator conversation) was the only thing a top executive had to judge you by, are you OK with that?” Often it is what they will be judged on. As a result I advise every professional, but particularly those starting out, to put communication at the top of the list of things to work on. Communication matters.”
Single Course Concept: Example: Monday and Thursdays Lecture Discussion 9-11 a.m. and 12-2 p.m., Wednesdays Labs:  9-10:30 a.m., 10:30 -12, 1-2:30, 2:30-4, 4-5:30 p.m.
 To manage the rich amount of knowledge that must be transferred to the students intellectually and experientially, the course for a student would meet 5.5 hours per week. The faculty would have student contact in class and laboratory 11.5 hours per week for the core class of 90 students. The students would meet with a single faculty member or dual team twice a week for 1 hour and 50 minutes (2 hours) for lecture, case solving, discussion, simulations. The students would also meet with a writing and oral communications teacher coach for 1.5 hours per week lab.  This person must have superb editing and communication instructional skills as well as a dedication to guaranteeing the quality of the students’ work and improvement.
The new course structure would allow the faculty to increase the additional content material in the class by 50 percent or more.  The course assumes the role of modern rhetoric (definition:  the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a: the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b: the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion (Merriam Webster).  The ideal teaching team on this course would be Caywood, Harmon and Mersey.  The team approach would ensure the continuation of the course over time and refinements from newer research and theory.
The 10 Week 19 lecture/discussion classes would include the following topics:
1.     Stakeholder Targeting and Mapping (1) (supported with video) Readings
2.     Applied Communications Theory in IMC and Journalism 1  Read  Competitive Communications
3.     Applied Communications Theory in IMC and Journalism 2
4.     Applied Communications Theory in IMC and Journalism 3
5.     Reputation Case Studies in Communications,  Dartmouth, Paul Argenti
6.     Executive Panel on the Role of Communications in Leadership of Best Communication Practices in IMC
7.     Storytelling Structure and Delivery 1 (supported with video/lab)
8.     Storytelling Structure and Delivery 2
9.     MARCOM Case Studies in Communications, Argenti
10.                                                 Midterm Examination
11.                                                 Advanced Writing and Editing 1 (supported with video/lab)
12.                                                 Advanced Writing and Editing 2
13.                                                 Communication Metrics 1
14.                                                 Communication Metrics 2
15.                                                 Media Presentation Practice and Theory (supported with video/lab)
16.                                                 Media Case Studies in Communications,  Argenti
17.                                                 Global  and Cross Cultural Communications
18.                                                 Global/Cross Cultural Case Studies in Communications, Argenti
19.                                                 Executive Panel on the Role of Global Communications in Leadership
20.                                                 Final Examination
Four cases, 6 editing assignments, 2 oral assignments, two examinations on content (reading, lectures, panels, cases), discussion, Twitter site usage, peer evaluation, pre and post editing examinations
The course is a large core class in the second quarter.  The professors will contribute additional time to recording selected portions of lectures and coaching information.  Students will be able (if they choose) to watch and learn from the video work before and after class.  The students will also be able to “self-test” their progress on the content material.
Communication Coaching and Labs 10 sessions in  10 weeks
 Lab sessions for coaching and editing, rewriting would be held weekly for 1.5 hours in groups of 18 students. The five sessions would meet from 9 a.m.  to 5:30 p.m. in a dedicated writing lab.
Writing and Editing 6 assignments from IMC field. The assignments would depend on the negotiation with other IMC faculty but would continue to include advertising, public relations, direct marketing and general business assignments. The work in the lab would include taking the “AP Business Communication” examination administered by George Harmon.  All work would be evaluated on progress in performance.
Oral Communications Delivery 4 assignments. Given the large number of students the only possible way to accomplish personal presentation goals would be to ask each student to prepare two 2-3 minute presentations that will be videoed.

Proposed Integration of Communications into the IMC and Medill
Curriculum Content
Based on the approach of the Handbook of Strategic Communications and Integrated Communications and the goals of the Journal of Integrated Communications the IMC faculty would restore elements of integrated communications to the curriculum.  Integrated Communications is nearly the same as IMC.  As practiced Integrated Communications explicitly includes broader social and economic policy, plus strategies and tactics with a wider range of stakeholders than the consumer and customer.  

To achieve this reconsideration of the curriculum, first we would host a nominal group technique and audit of our curriculum for communication content. The audit would include evaluation of the writing and speaking skills of individual students. Next the IMC faculty would offer new approaches for teaching both communication theories, linking to policy issues, stating specific strategies and proposing theory and concept justified tactics. The goals of the meeting of faculty would be to propose new objectives in the design of the IMC graduate curriculum. Some of the following would be considered:

1.     Courses in marketing, IMC, finance, law, creative and management would require at least three individually written (and re-edited) assignments in each class. Graduate grading help would be offered.
2.     Course syllabi would concretely list areas of study that depend on policy, concept, theories and practices that are uniquely communications.
3.     Faculty and administration would sponsor with funds and encourage more than one speaker’s club for after school programming.
4.     Where theory rich textbooks, literature summaries and reports can be used in classes they would be encouraged.
5.     Examinations and case studies would require a theoretically grounded explanation of solutions and analysis.
6.     Medill Journalism and IMC would teach cooperatively communication theory, practice and research to maximize limited resources in Medill.
7.     Students with undergraduate (recent) degrees (major or minors) in communications or journalism would be identified for more advanced work and independent study.

In the case of the single course modification and in the broader curriculum changes, the faculty would agree on several metrics. 

§  First an approach on how to monitor, balance and improve the courses communications and analytical content would be determined.  The agreed model would allow us to more gradually alter the curriculum on key dimensions rather than go through period of disappointment, rediscovery and reconsideration.  
§  Second, the faculty would examine the evaluation system of CTEC and its continued low participation. Alternatives from the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence including observation and class discussion would be examined as part of the Department’s metrics. Students would also be asked to evaluate their peers and their own contribution to the success of the class.  Other new measures of student learning and participation beyond mere experiential involvement would be found. 
§  Third, the faculty would reestablish its past active role in the recruiting and admission of graduate students.          
§  Fourth, the additional 2010 research conducted by Professor Malthouse on predictive scoring on GRE, GMAT would be developed for decision making.
§  Fifth, short term curriculum changes and demands by students would be carefully examined to avoid fads. 
§  Sixth, the contribution of the summer project and individual residency program would be more integrated into the curriculum.
§  Seventh, pre-enrollment education and training requirements would be bolstered beyond a 1-2 week short class model. 
§  Eighth, pre and post testing in specified areas of competencies would be approved and encouraged. 
§  Ninth, the faculty would monitor closely any cluster of students with low standing in early classes in the degree program.
§  Tenth, the faculty would write a comprehensive list of “competencies” that would be used to continuously evaluate the progress of the curriculum, the students and the faculty. 



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marketing communications said...

After Studying this IMC marketing communications course, where does the students initially work? Does the school help them look for a work, which is related the marketing communication? I hope so.