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Elon students gain real-world experience through semester-long project with Pace Communications

Six members of Live Oak Communications had the opportunity to create a communications campaign for the American Automobile Association (AAA) through Project Echo, a two-year-old partnership with a Greensboro-based professional content marketing agency.

Members of Live Oak Communications spent the fall semester assisting Pace Communications on a campaign to shift the American Automobile Association’s brand perception with a more digitally savvy audience.

Members of Live Oak Communications and Pace Communications gather following a student-led presentation during the fall 2017 semester. Photos courtesy of Live Oak

The Project Echo student team, consisting of five seniors and one junior, met weekly with Pace executives and staff members, learning about the client, researching the competition, strategizing a campaign and designing creative communications tactics. At the end of the semester, the Elon University students presented their campaign to members of the Greensboro-based content marketing agency as well as the client, AAA.

Pace and Live Oak launched Project Echo two years ago to provide students an in-depth professional experience and opportunities to be mentored by professionals while creating communications strategies for real clients. The partnership provides Live Oak students the opportunity to gain relevant skills through hands-on experience in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. Additionally, School of Communications students translate their classroom learning and Live Oak experience to an even more advanced level.

Project Echo also serves as a millennial sounding board for the two-time Content Marketing Association of the Year winner, allowing Pace staff members to share their expertise while receiving input from future leaders in the communications industry through various presentations, campus visits and workshops.

Live Oak team members were tasked with making AAA more appealing to a younger demographic. Through brand and competitor research, students learned about the market space AAA occupied and the company’s unique benefits and potential positioning. The student team ultimately created a campaign, #MyAAAJourney, that utilizes email, digital, social and mobile tactics to share members’ AAA stories.

“It was a very challenging, yet rewarding experience,” said Brooke Muller, an Elon junior and a Live Oak account director. “We felt very fortunate to have the guidance and expertise of the Pace team and, in the end, created a campaign we are all very proud of.”

Elon students Abigail Ojemann ’18 (from left), Mackenzie Franklin ’18, MacKenzie Clarken ’18 and Brooke Muller ’19 address members of Pace Communications during a Project Echo presentation. 

The semester-long project led to a final presentation from the student team to various members of Pace and the AAA client.

"I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students from Elon’s School of Communications,” said Brooke Wagner, Pace’s vice president of social media and activation. “Talk about smart, professional, creative and passionate! Every time we met, the team was prepared and ready to go – delivering at every turn and ultimately presenting a very smart approach to our client."

“Partners like Pace and this opportunity allow students to learn and grow from class assignments, from Live Oak real-client challenges and professional embedded experiences,” said Hal Vincent, Live Oak’s faculty director. “How many students can graduate from college and say they had the ear of such an iconic client as AAA? It’s a truly remarkable opportunity and a hallmark of the Elon commitment to experiential and engaged learning in action.”

Live Oak Communications is Elon’s award-winning, student-run communications agency. With more than 40 staff members serving seven to eight clients per semester, the agency has implemented campaigns both nationally and regionally, including website design, video production, media relations, social media development, print and broadcast advertising, brand positioning, cause-related marketing, viral marketing and event management.

Tommy Kopetskie,
2/22/2018 1:45 PM