UB students craft publicity campaign for downtown Bridgeport revival

UB students craft publicity campaign for downtown Bridgeport revival

A city and the university bearing its name are intrinsically bound together. What better way to strengthen that bond than through a semester-long class project assigning mass communication and graphic design students the work of conceptualizing a publicity campaign to revive its Downtown?

Lucky for Bridgeport to have Professor Susan Katz, well-known about town for her pedagogical style of experiential learning, to connect the city and university together through an integrated marketing and communications (M/C) plan entitled “The Bridge: Bridgeport’s New Downtown.” For all who attended her final Publicity Methods class presentation in early December, it was clear Katz knows both how to unite key community leaders together and how to teach her students what it takes to be a professional in the highly competitive M/C field.

[Above, video produced by UB students introducing the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut]

Past clients in Katz’s class projects have been cultural, education, and humanitarian organizations such as the Downtown Cabaret Theater, Discovery Museum and Planetarium, Barnum Museum, and the Committee for Teaching about the United Nations (CTAUN). “This time, it was an entire city,” said Katz. “We delivered a lot of high-end professional and polished collateral they can start running with immediately.”

In attendance for the presentation at the Tower Room of the Arnold Bernhard Center on the evening of December 6, 2016 were President Emeritus Richard Rubenstein, President and Mrs. Neil Salonen, Vice President for University Relations Rob Cottle, Mayor Joe Ganim, Economic Development Director Tim Gill, Special Projects and City Events Director Gina Malheiro, Communications Assistant Dalmarys Matos, and other city and university officials.

After a brief welcome and introduction by Katz, the UB students got straight to it as each team presented their work with great pride and polish. The microphone passed from one team leader to another, as students lined up in standard M/C teams such as art and design, videography, press and public relations, and social media. It was clear to all that the evening was not only about collaboration but about a real-world learning exercise.

Among the highlights of the presentation was the hand-out of a fully-realized campaign strategy in the form of a professional media kit, which included:

  • An eight-page promotional economic development book on The New Downtown
  • Digital, print, transit, and outdoor advertising collateral
  • Feature stories, Bridgeport fact sheet and history
  • Social media collateral including banners, posts, and hashtags
  • Two promotional websites
  • Augmented reality app
  • CD with all digital files

Referencing the final rundown of the class presentation, Katz points out, “Hands-on, real-world experience is what media students need to find work. This builds portfolios. There is simply no replacement for learning-by-doing.”

“Working on this video changed my perception of Bridgeport. I got to meet creative and artistic folks, business owners, hard-working people with a vision to help others. I saw a complete other side of Bridgeport.” — Alban Gaval ’16, Videography Team Leader
For Alban Gaval ’16, a mass communications major with a concentration in public relations, becoming team leader of the videography group has turned him on to the value of teamwork. A freelance videographer, he believes that “the best work that’s ever been done with videos has been done on a team,” and through this experience understands first-hand how effective and efficient it is to delegate responsibilities — and then all come together with the same final project in their portfolio. “Four out of five students on my team are graduating this semester,” said Gaval. “I can’t think of a better note to end our college careers than with this video project that we put so much time, professional work, and energy into.”

Grateful to Professor Katz for being the catalyst that “makes things happen,” Gaval acknowledges that without her “this opportunity wouldn’t have even existed for me or any of us. She’s an amazing example to follow as well as a gateway to opening doors for her students.”

Above and beyond building relationships with a faculty mentor and fellow classmates, experiential learning opportunities such as this widely expands UB students’ networks. In front of an audience of VIPs from both the University and the Bridgeport community, students have a shot at making a professional and lasting impression.

What stood out most during the presentation for Rebecca Salonen was the scope and ingenuity of the campaign itself. “I was most impressed by the multifaceted plan the students so skillfully created. They presented a whole scheme for the city of Bridgeport’s media and publicity, and I hope the city applies it,” Salonen said.

While Mrs. Salonen connected with the students (as her heart always leads her to do!), the promise of collaboration and development resonated most with Rob Cottle, Vice President for University Relations, who just joined the University’s leadership team in late November.

“I believe the City and University of Bridgeport are tied together and can collectively prosper with renewed and thoughtful collaboration and planning,” said Cottle. “As we approach our Centennial Celebration a decade from now, it is fun to dream about the possibilities. I feel the same way about the City of Bridgeport.”