As I enter into year 3 as an adjunct professor, it’s occurred to me: there are a number of classes universities really should offer in an effort to better prepare these kids for the real world in digital and social media marketing.
I polled my LinkedIn audience last week, asking: What’s one class you wish you could have taken in college, but weren’t offered? My suggestions:
1 – Presentation skills & Powerpoint
2 – SEO & SEM
3 – How to network in the real world (online and offline)
4- Multi-media content creation for communicators (photo + video + audio)
The results didn’t really surprise me (see below). SEO/SEM is highly under-represented in an academic setting. And absolutely NO ONE talks to kids about networking.
25 years ago, we clearly had none of these classes at my alma mater, Winona State. But, in 2021, I’m not sure too many universities offer classes like these either.
But, aren’t they all super-important for the modern day digital or social media marketer?
I mean, how important are presentation and Powerpoint skills? Ask any agency person and they may put this at the top of the list! I had a speaker in our class last week say she had SIX Powerpoints on her desk and all were due next week! Selling in ideas is a critical skill, and we don’t learn a thing about that in college. Learning how to present to a client or new client is arguably one of the most key skills you have as a consultant–and you’re left to figure it out on your own in the professional world.
Or, what about SEO and SEM? At both schools where I teach, there’s no class on this. Of course, SEO/SEM are part of the digital/social media class I teach, but we spend 2 weeks, at most, on the topic. We barely scratch the surface. Considering how critical a solid understanding is of SEO/SEM, this feels like a huge need at the college level.
Networking has always been one of those topics you never really learn about in a classroom. But why not? Why shouldn’t universities have classes on this topic. Isn’t it one of the most important skills to our career development? I would argue solidly that it absolutely is. You know the phrase “it’s now what you know, it’s who you know.” People who buy into that mindset are the people you see in VP and CMO chairs. What you know quickly becomes commoditized in your professional life. Social media marketing. SEO. Content marketing. Sure, some are a little better than others at certain things, but for the most part, a lot of people know how to do all the things. What differentiates those who ascend to bigger roles from those who stagnate is the “who you know” part. So, why don’t we teach people how to do that? It’s not on the syllabi of the classes I teach, but you can bet you a** we talk about it in class. But these universities should have classes on the topic–it’s that important to success.
Finally, creating content. What’s more important in 2021 than this? And sure, there’s news writing and video editing and courses like that as part of any J-School or strategic comms program. But, that’s not even close to the same thing as what we’re talking about when it comes to creating content for the modern web. We’re talking about a class that teaches kids what makes for compelling photography for Insta posts. We’re talking about a class that teaches kids how to create video that engages users on a platform like TikTok. We’re talking about producing audio content for a podcast or a platform like Clubhouse. This is a much different class than the ones offered by J-Schools and Comms departments now. And that absolutely has to change.
So those are my four classes I think universities should add to their cirriculums for the modern day digital or social media marketer. What would you add?