Elon students engage in audience research with Winston-Salem communications firm

Nearly a dozen School of Communications students participated in a consumer immersion research exercise, building on coursework that explores the relationships between the producers of media messages and their audiences.

To better understand and appreciate professional audience research, members of Hal Vincent’s “Understanding Audiences” class and others were recruited and participated in a Nov. 16 consumer immersion research exercise with a Winston-Salem communications firm.

With Xernay Aniwar ’17 (left) looking on, Jordan Levine ’19 (center) shares her thoughts during a Nov. 16 consumer immersion research exercise with representatives from MullenLowe, an integrated advertising agency.
The School of Communications lecturer coordinated respondent screening for retail store immersion and reflection visits with follow-up discussion groups with representatives of MullenLowe, a Boston-based integrated advertising agency. The firm also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, the Triad and across the globe. The sessions were led by Cindy Abad-Mancheño, who serves as vice president and associate director of strategic planning and works directly with the agency’s Frank about Women consultancy, a widely recognized marketing-to-women think-tank.

Following a visit to the lecturer’s class, Vincent and Abad-Mancheño saw an opportunity to provide an engaging way for students to participate in real-world research for a multimillion-dollar client to extend learning beyond just the concepts addressed in the course.

Nearly a dozen students participated in the sessions, which are part of MullenLowe’s qualitative effort to further understand the data already collected through extensive quantitative research. Throughout the semester, students enrolled in the media analytics course explore the complex relationships between the producers of media messages and their audiences and participants.

Lauren Duncan ’18 (center) was one of nearly a dozen Elon students to participate in the professional audience research.
​“This was an excellent opportunity to not just learn about understanding audiences in the classroom, but to also engage in professional audience research for one of the country’s most respected communications firms,” said Vincent, who also serves as faculty director of Live Oak Communications. “We are so fortunate to have a leader in consumer analytics and research seeking to partner with Elon students and offer such opportunities to apply theories and concepts in real settings.”

Vincent added that he expects this might be the first of many opportunities for Elon students to participate in research and be mentored by the working professionals of MullenLowe. “Anytime students have experiential opportunities to ‘do’ what they discuss in class for a respected employer they have a chance to jump start their future careers,” he said.

According to Vincent, Abad-Manceno offered the students a variety of unique insights and appreciated the thoughtful efforts of the Elon participants. Information gathered from the sessions will be used in communications efforts on behalf of one of MullenLowe’s clients. The international agency has a robust portfolio that includes Jet Blue, Mass Mutual, Century 21 and Royal Caribbean.