A marketing class at Pittsburg State University is developing solutions for real-life needs in the community - and simultaneously bolstering their business skills for the future.
Lynn Murray, a professor in the Department of Marketing and Management, is working with one of her advanced marketing classes to come up with creative ideas to solve a big need for one community organization. This semester, her class has focused on the food bank at the Wesley House, a non-profit organization in Pittsburg that provides many services for residents in need including a free, weekly hot meal as well as groceries.
Earlier this semester, Murray's class met with Ellie Foster, the pastor and executive director of the Wesley House. Foster spoke with them about the overwhelming needs of the community: in the past year, there has been a 50 percent increase in families coming to the food bank for help. She also discussed a local high school in which 60 percent of the students are taking part in the free lunch program.
"For some of my students, that was the first time they had seen the depths of the need in this community," Murray said. "It became real to them."
With the goal of developing and piloting campaigns that would help the organization, Murray's class divided into five groups and chose their focuses and marketing plans. One group developed a fundraising competition in the College of Business to see which department could raise the most money. Another worked with area churches to raise money. A third group met with businesses, encouraging them to gather food and donations from customers. Two other groups developed plans for the future - one creating a food drive to take place during next year's Corporate Olympics, and another planning a monthly meal provided by the PSU community and Greek organizations.
Students will present their findings and results tonight at Kelce Hall to a panel including a marketing expert, a community member, as well as Wesley House leaders. The winners of the competition, which will be announced at a dinner hosted by Murray next week, will receive a cash prize.
This isn't the first time Murray has challenged her students to create marketing campaigns for real community needs. Last semester, her class focused on projects for the Colonial Fox Theatre in Pittsburg. Before that, the class worked with PSU's Sustainability Committee to create a logo and marketing campaign.
"I want these projects to be good deeds," Murray said. "These are real opportunities for students to have an effect on the community. This class is a safe place for them to try and fail, and learn how hard it can be to do things. But it's also such a rewarding project. Our motto is, 'By doing, learn.' We're really trying in the College of Business to give them that experience."
For more information on the Wesley House projects, contact Murray at 620-235-4588.
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