Wednesday, December 18

Happy Holidays And Thank You For 2013

A very dear friend of mine tends to look at the holidays and upcoming new year as an end. It's the time to say goodbye to the old and, for those unfortunate souls, another reminder that all those big dreams and plans haven't come to fruition.

"And so we cling on desperately
to fleeting routines and comforts
until they slip away. Already gone, 
long before the loss grabs hold."

— Rich Becker, 2013

But I've never really seen it this way because none of those big dreams and plans deserve to be mourned. They were gone a long time ago, assuming they ever got started.

Looking back on them with any sense of despondency would be akin to a tree reflecting on its thinnest rings with regret. But nature doesn't see it this way. While some years are more fruitful than others, we can always be grateful that there was any ring at all. And then even more grateful that every year is a blank slate, with an equal potential for harsh or heathy seasons. You get to decide how to fill it.

How to measure the potential of a new year while being grateful for the last.

The holiday card I sent out this year included an illustration of a drummer boy. It was inspired by an old print that my grandmother had shellacked to a piece of wood. I always liked it so I recast it by drawing a minimal-line freehand version before porting it into my computer for color.

The song, The Little Drummer Boy, has remarkable depth to it. It's about a boy who arrives at the manger to see the new born king much like the three wise men did. But unlike the wise men, the boy didn't have the foresight to bring a gift. So he plays his drum and it turns out to be greatest gift of all.

Faith doesn't necessitate value in the story, even if it is likely tied to Job 34:9 — It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God. While the lesson is meant to remind us that nothing makes God happier than when we use the talents He has given us, it turns out that nothing makes us happier either.

And so, as simple as it seems, that became part of my holiday greeting this year in just two words. Play on. Play on, with your talents ahead of everything else you do and next year will be your best. Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Good night and good luck.

A quick look back at the most viewed posts here before we wrap the year. 

1. Five Things I Wish Every Advertiser, Marketer, And Pro Knew. Five lessons confined to a single post, ranging from the difference between a content strategy and marketing strategy to how it takes more than being clever to break through the clutter. My favorite is in taking the effort to be something other than a noun.

2. Five Monkey Wrenches For The Future Of Public Relations. Everyone knows that public relations is at a crossroads, but not everyone considers how they might overcome those challenges. Public relations owes itself the opportunity to thrive on its strategic merit.

3. Will Automations Steal The Soul From Social? Anyone who knows me, knows that this is one of my favorite discussion points in regard to social media. It never seems to get old because people continue to count the wrong measurements anyway.

4. Teaching People To Write Requires A Contradictory Approach. Several people have asked me to write more stories about writing. It's too early to say what next year will look like, but writing will be given a lift in priority. This one was fun because it debunks the need for too many rules for writing.

5. Changing Creative: Did Fans Dictate Days Of Our Lives. If you want to see the kind of impact social media has made on our society, take some time to read the comments. Almost 100 fans chimed in on how they felt about one of the few remaining soap operas. Marketing is seldom so exciting.

6. Big Data Will Be A Blind Spot For Marketers. Everyone keeps talking about big data, but the science of it is less important than the art. Measurement requires much more than numbers. Marketers need to invest more time in the murkier waters of behavioral science.

7. Put People Ahead Of Platforms If You Want To Succeed. There were several associates of mine who said my subhead would have made the better headline. Had I retitled the article, we would have called it: Five Areas Of Focus To Make You More People Centric.

8. Networks Drive Discussions. People Drive Networks. Long before writing about the algorithm changes taking place to Facebook right now, I was challenging my social media students to stop prioritizing social networks based on popularity because popularity is subject to change. The post includes my social media deck for 2013.

9. Bob Fass Beats Everyone In Social Media. Good Morning, 1963. If anyone accidentally influenced me this year, it would be Bob Fass. Without ever knowing it, he developed the formula for free flow social media long before the Internet made it possible and smart phones made it popular.

10. Killing Me Softly: Cancer. Perspective can be your adversary or ally. Cancer certainly ensured this was a thin ring year for me, but it would be impossible for me not to be grateful in the wake of it.

Those were the most read posts this year, a fraction of a small collection written. Thank you for reading them, sharing them, and — most importantly — finding the time to respond to them. I look forward to many more great discussions ahead. My next post here will likely be Jan. 8, 2014.

If you want to keep up weekly, subscribe here. You can also find more creative content here or here next year, along with eclectic reviews or segments about something called shadow management. Aside from those outlets, there will be a few more surprises in the new year. I hope so for you too.

Wednesday, December 11

When Does Facebook Surrender Its Social Network Status?

Facebook
When most people hear the term 'social network' nowadays, they immediately think of the brands that populate the Internet — anything and everything from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter. Most of them don't know that the true terminology isn't confined to digital. Such structures exist offline too.

In fact, the theoretical construct of a social network is simply based upon social entities voluntarily connecting and interacting or conducting an exchange. They are always self-organizing, and frequently create any number of complex patterns and shapes by their own volition.

It's largely what makes them so interesting to study. Even before social networks became akin to being defined by online service, different groups of people always came together in unique ways. Except this self-organizing theory might not be the case anymore, especially on places like Facebook.

Since its inception, this network has slowly evolved away from the self-organizing arena. Whereas once the network asked its members to self-organize, the network now defines social entities differently. And in doing so, the ability to interact is largely dictated by compensation or algorithm.

Why some marketers feel like they are losing out on Facebook. 

Last week, several stories broke around the headline Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, which talked about a new sales deck that Facebook sent to its marketing partners. The emphasis on the article was the bluntness of the company. It said marketers have to pay up.

For many in the advertising and communication industry, the article was confirmation that convincing people to like your Facebook page was not enough. Fewer and fewer people will see the content you share unless they interact and engage with it by sharing or commenting on the thread.

Simply put, a Facebook post might only reach (or be seen) by 15-35 of the 3,500 people who have liked the page. This is an amazingly paltry number in the eyes of most marketers, especially those who have already invested time and marketing dollars to attract those people in the first place.

Worse, many marketers are ready to toss their hands in the air because even if they do up the ante for greater reach among the Facebook followers they have already attracted, they will always be bought out by larger companies with bigger budgets. In short, they are going to lose. Game over.

Not everyone sees it this way. Some call it sour grapes. 

Sour Grapes
The opposite tact was taken on Kairay Media, stressing that maybe marketers were confused. In his generalized rebut, Brent Csutoras offered up that Facebook is not reducing organic content views (hat tip Amy Vernon). It seemed more likely that supply and demand is the culprit.

Csutoras is right in that the trend cited by Facebook didn't necessarily translate to the social network claiming to be the cause of the trend. People can only consume so much content. And even if they volunteer to consume more of it, Facebook is attempting to manage it with a prioritization algorithm based on its engagement values. When it doesn't, marketers get flagged as spam more often or abandon the service.

So, in essence, while everything is relative, the algorithm aims for some unknown threshold so content doesn't scroll faster than it can be seen (and even then there is no guarantee). And with this perspective in mind, it's easy enough to think of Facebook looking out for its membership.

But is Facebook really looking out for its members? Or is Facebook, like some ad-revenue based program channels, looking out for its bottom line because network content consumption works a bit like a Ponzi scheme? Since people can only consume so much, the rates will only climb higher.

Facebook is fine with that. It will be crossing the $2 billion per quarter mark soon enough. It currently has the number one mobile app in the United States. It would like to say the world.

Is Facebook a social network, marketing platform, or something else? 

This is very much what Julie Pippert warned PRSA Houston about two months before it happened. Her message was pretty clear. If you think you have a game plan for SEO and Edgerank, you don't.

Not everyone believed her, but she's right. A strategic approach to social media is adaptability over game plan. The winners are almost always those who cultivate a network as it becomes mainstream and seldom those who read the best practices about how they did it. By the time they do it, it changes.

But this isn't the extent of the change. When networks remove self-organization they cease to be social. And when you consider the most recent privacy issues that Danny Brown recently addressed, the pattern becomes clear. The lion's share of reinvestment by the network is to make it a better revenue-generating marketing platform and not necessarily a better social network.

Facebook Stock
It makes sense that it would. Facebook used to measure success by membership and usage. But nowadays, it is more likely to measure success by quarterly earnings and stock valuations. And the best way for the company to do that is by creating an environment where companies are willing to create content for the network, advertise this content outside of the network in order to populate it, and then pay to be seen by the same people they populated it with.

In return, the network will continue to chip away at privacy sensitivity, which will give marketers more insight into consumer behavior (which, ironically, companies cannot decipher anyway). And there is nothing wrong with any of it per se, but only because most people volunteer to do it. For now.

Online, people are social nomads and where they gravitate today will not necessarily be where they gravitate tomorrow. Facebook doesn't want to believe it, but they know it. While I wouldn't go so far as to say teens are abandoning Facebook, they are using the marketing-saturated snooper less.

Simply put, teens want to self-organize their social networks rather than have a company do it for them, especially one that no longer makes self-organizing a priority and never placed any value on privacy. If that's true, then social networks aren't turning into marketing platforms as much as television series. And those, as everyone knows, have a finite shelf life.

And if that's true, it would be a shame because I personally like Facebook, even when it does things that I am not fond of as a member or a marketer. How about you? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 4

Why Amazon PrimeAir Drones Transcend Publicity.

It would have cost somewhere around $3 million for a retail outlet to buy 15 minutes of airtime around CBS's "60 Minutes" on the Sunday night before Cyber Monday. But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos secured his spot for free. He appeared to talk about the future Amazon drone delivery program.

"I know this looks like science fiction — it's not," Bezos said, words that have been echoed a million times over. The maelstrom of media attention that has followed can't be quantified. Every major and mid-level media outlet has covered the "60 Minutes" segment, many finding their own angles.

A few story spins include validity vs. publicity, regulatory updates, retail delivery disruption, practical applications, test site applications, civilian safety concerns, law enforcement issues, consumer laziness, and countless others. It also makes the case for the power of brand equity. Other companies have announced drone delivery programs, but none of them had the brand equity of Amazon.

Bezos could have said Amazon was testing miniature sleighs powered by eight tiny reindeer and piloted by chubby guys in warm winter suits and it would have been new. But a majority of pitchmen would have laughed at or even blacklisted him. When mediocre pitches come from big companies, they can still move something from the future potential pile to the future possible pile. Bezos went further.

Why the Amazon Drone Delivery System story wins attention. 

The reason the Amazon Drone Delivery System is such a success story is that it found the sweet spot between publicity and public relations. The reality is that Amazon, like many companies, is testing drone delivery programs that will one day be mainstream.

Never mind that the application will likely take longer than Bezos suggested, with some estimates putting drones off until 2020. Even then, such a program will likely be confined to rural or select suburban areas as opposed to high density urban centers. But then again, you never really know.

Technology can sometimes be fast tracked if people want it bad enough. And based on the chatter alone, people really want to see delivery drones and orders that arrive in less than 30 minutes. People want them, but not only for their ingrained predisposition for instant gratification.


Part of the Amazon drone delivery system allure is about the increasing need for Americans to regain their footing on the future. After the constant bombardment of stories best summed up as "failing empire syndrome," consumers are ready for drone deliveries because it represents an ideal.

Launching a drone delivery program would prove American business, technology and affluence are still part of the equation. It's just far out enough to feel like science fiction but just close enough to feel like science fact. And along with that, it touches our psyche to say anything is still possible.

What the Amazon Drone Delivery Program accomplished. 

In the weeks ahead, some public relations professionals and entrepreneurs will likely dismiss the story as a publicity stunt. But the Amazon drone delivery program isn't just a publicity stunt. The company is working toward shorter delivery times; which ones get off the ground or not won't matter.

The notion that Amazon succeeded in usurping attention from any other major retailer on Cyber Monday is icing on the cake. The real accomplishment is that Amazon has once again affirmed itself at the forefront of technology — playing at the same scale as Apple, Google, Nike, etc. — while nurturing publics that want Amazon and Bezos to succeed in innovating a better world.

They want companies with a penchant for big ideas. They want more people like Steve Jobs. They don't even care if companies succeed or fail on big ideas like PrimeAir (which is what the drone program is called). They want what Seth Godin might call a Purple Cow or Malcom Gladwell might call another David. They want these things because we've seen too much dismantling in a decade.

Bezos is a smart CEO because he tapped into this need and fulfilled it, even if it might be premature or a little bit fanciful. That isn't a trite publicity stunt like sitting naked on a wrecking ball. It's a strategic move to build brand equity as an innovative retailer, one that people will support.

Think about that before your company pitches a teleportation segment. PrimeAir isn't a publicity stunt, even if the story generated (and is still generating) an epic amount of publicity. PrimeAir is a well-timed real story that reinforces the strategic position of a brand that people genuinely like and how it is really doing something that could change our perception of what's possible.

When was the last time your company did that? If it has been a long time, then perhaps it would be worthwhile to explore the possibilities. Instead of worrying about the packaging of a company (like marketing and public relations tend to do), maybe it's time to think about what's inside the box.

Wednesday, November 27

Finding Purpose In A Post-Surgery World. Happy Thanksgiving.

A Turkey by Jenna Becker
Many of my friends already know it, but I thought to share it here too. The day before my birthday last week was one of the most significant in my life. It didn't necessarily feel that way, but it was.

Last Wednesday was the six-month follow-up appointment to the radical nephrectomy I underwent last May. The surgery was the best possible option to remove a malignant mass in my right kidney.

The intent of the follow up was very straightforward: confirm the malignancy was removed, check for any signs of reoccurrence, and assess how well the left kidney was managing its new workload.

I'm grateful for the outcome. While some pre-CT scan numbers were elevated, there is no sign of malignancy. It was good enough news to close out that chapter of my life for good. There will be more follow ups annually for the next five years, but everything else is as bright as a blank slate.

The quantity of time we have is not as important as the quality.

My recovery has been brisk. As soon as I was cleared, I planned out a suitable workout schedule at home. While it is still short of an effective low impact cardio element, I've met or surpassed most pre-surgery benchmarks. My 2-inch post surgery pouch is almost gone. I see a Spartan Race in my future.

Psychologically, the six-month follow up quelled a common side effect among cancer survivors. Most are concerned about cancer reoccurrence. And while I was never afraid of reoccurrence per se (my heartfelt support for those who are), I did find that any long-term commitments always made me immediately uncomfortable. I felt like I was trying to talk around an elephant.

I would have preferred to have it out in the open, but I also understand most people would rather not. No matter. For me it was a temporary condition, but one that has given me a permanent empathy for anyone who has been diagnosed with or survived cancer or any life-threatening ailment.

It made me realize that not only does cancer deserve a cure, but those afflicted also deserve a society that doesn't look upon them as a threat to the illusion of security. And we might not stop with cancer patients but include anyone society attempts to seclude as being short-listed by age or ailment. They don't need sympathy or pity as much as reassurance that it's all right to recognize life as temporary.

tick tock
After all, it's only in knowing that our lives are fleeting in a very real and public sense that we can keep ourselves challenged from the comfort of complacency — when one day becomes indistinguishable from the next. We really don't have time to waste on mediocrity.

Most of us know it too, even if we require something big to shake us awake. As Jay Ehret said so eloquently: "Putting duct tape on your life does not give you a different life. Sometimes you just need to let it break so that you can get something new."

He might be right. We'll see. I felt pretty broken about 180 days ago, an eternity on the Internet.

Everyone is driven by something. We can choose what drives us. 

Some people are driven by success. Some people are driven by greed. Some people are driven by fame. Some people are driven by fear. And some people are driven by their past. There are infinite numbers of them to choose from and whatever anyone chooses isn't all that important.

What is important is knowing that everybody is driven by something. And we all have an opportunity to choose what it might be. All we have to do is be aware of what it is and be conscious that we choose it.

Like anyone, looking back, I can list about a dozen drivers at different times in my life. Some of them are admirable. Some of them certainly less so. But what they were doesn't matter any more. What matters is that they're different today and I'm grateful to even have another chance. How about you?

Happy Thanksgiving. If I had a wish to give, it would be for everyone to find the purpose that fits. And then? I would want them to share it with those closest at home for this holiday and then again in whatever they do afterwards. Everyone can make it meaningful not in minutes but in magnitude.

Be grateful. Be silly. Be yourself. I know I am. Thank you for all of it. Good night and good luck.

Wednesday, November 20

Content Management Has It Backwards. Behavior Trumps Action.

screens or people
During an organizational meeting last week, I asked several colleagues what they thought the biggest trend in public relations, advertising, and marketing might be. Their answers were expected.

Someone said mobile. Another said big data. And yet another tossed in content management for good measure. As I wrote down their answers, I considered some of my own, everything from versatile display surfaces to 3-D printing — conversation threads that have become standard for my students.

All in all, we came up with a solid list of trends but none of them felt too important. Maybe it's because the answers all sounded too easy. Six months ago, any of them could have been viable topics. But nowadays, they provide a distraction as much as direction. Most answers are based on actions.

Sure, every now and again, a marketer touts transactions over actions, but transactions have a limited shelf life too. Everyone is trying to measure everything based on multiples of the one-time something.

Actions are all about one time and they cost a lot. 

The truth is that actions aren't moving anything forward. Transactions aren't much better. They're largely built around the same one-time sales cycle as if every prompt is a standalone metric — one piece of content times the number of impressions times a conversion percentage is a measurement.

That sounds great, but it's not efficient. And it isn't how anyone ought to be thinking as a marketer.

Instead of attempting to remind people to recycle every time they are about to toss a plastic bottle away, you want them to develop a long-term behavior so you don't have to be an ever-present reminder. Conversely, great campaigns results in long-term behavioral changes so people not only toss plastic bottles into recycling bins, but also actively seek them out by extending their threshold for convenience.

So maybe it's better to think less about systems of delivery (technology), single event triggers (response), and the minimum reach to generate an expressed conversion (reach) and think more about how you can change behavior so that your company is part of the equation much earlier in the decision making process. Some people might mistakenly assume I'm talking about brand loyalty alone, but the relationship is embedded before brand consideration, making loyalty an outcome.

The future of marketing isn't just technology. It's behavioral sciences. 

Why? Simply put, behavioral sciences investigate the decision processes and communication strategies within and between organisms in their environment. It's all about how people think.

It's what will help researchers pinpoint the root of why cardio fitness is in decline among kids, why Jeremy Grantham remains bullish on stocks, and why graduate schools are seeing a decline in enrollment. It's how one application maker solved the psychological uncertainty problem associated with waiting for taxis (hat tip Mark Harai), which is one of Ogilvy Group UK Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland's favorite examples of applied behavioral sciences. In this case, eliminating the uncertainty angst increased taxi usage.

taxi
Consider this single solution against existing marketing models. Day in and day out, marketers propose more content, more often, and sometimes at a discount as the end all to their formula. But in reality: talking to more about taxis to more people, even with a discount, would have no measurable impact beyond shifting a few fares away from a competitor. The application Hailo, on the other hand, removed one of the largest decision-making obstacles to book a cab, increasing overall demand.

The more you understand your clients and customers' decision-making processes at the deepest level possible, the less likely you need to trick them with interruptions, link bait, or empty promises. What marketers can help organizations deliver on is a better product or service though psychology.

Ergo, the shoe company that understands why children run around less, the investor who pays attention to consumer confidence, the master's program that removes enrollment barriers will outperform those that rely on creative advertising, piles of whitepapers, or tuition waivers.

How about you? When was the last time your company or your client's company invested in empirical evidence over industry trends? And if they never have, maybe this is the first "why" that needs to be answered. Why are companies investing in persuasion tactics for short-term results over sound communication that leads to long-term behavioral shifts that require minor reinforcements?

Wednesday, November 13

We're Not Ready For The Future Of Education, Are We?

what's next for education
Have you ever heard of Sam Duncan? He is the chief executive officer of OfficeMax, a position he managed to earn without the benefit of a college degree. Instead, Duncan leaned on his military experience and a lifetime of hard work that began as a bag boy at a local Albertson's supermarket.

He worked hard at it. He worked so hard that his store manager once told him that if he kept up with the same work ethic, then one day he might be president of a company. He never forgot the advice.

"If you are trying to work on today’s or tomorrow’s problems, you are too late,” Duncan said in a recent interview with Success. “You have to read and anticipate trends.” 

That seems to be what Jack Andraka did last year. He is the teenager who developed a fast, non-intrusive, and inexpensive method to detect an increase of a protein that indicates the presence of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. He was 15.

Some people call him a prodigy for his discovery. Others just consider him tenacious for thinking it through and then requesting laboratory space from more than 200 professors at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health. He was rejected 199 times.

"You don't have to be a professor with multiple degrees to have your ideas valued," Andraka said during his guest appearance on TED. "Regardless of your gender, age, or ethnicity, your ideas can count."

He reminded of me of Eden Full. She was the 19-year-old student at Princeton who designed a motor-free tracker for solar panels that improved efficiency by 40 percent. Incidentally, she didn't come up with the idea at Princeton. She invented the technology while still in high school.

Like Andraka, who made low cost part of his criteria, Full improved solar efficiency without electricity. She initially used temperature sensitive bimetallic strips that cost $10 to $20 each. And then, after testing, improved her design by using gravity power generated by water displacement.

And then there is Austin Gutwein from Arizona. While he didn't necessarily have the same medical or scientific prowess that Andraka or Full had, he fulfilled his sense of purpose by starting a free throw fundraiser when he was only nine years old. Today, Hoops of Hope is an international effort.

And then there is Oren Rosenbaum. He was only 17 years old when he dreamed up what would become P'Tones Records. It's a record label that helps youth explore their musical, professional, and artistic talents in ways no one else thought possible. Today, his educational label is strategically aligned with Warner Music Group.

How are these kids managing to change the world without a full education?

Teach imagination?Every now and again, I have to remind people that not all students are failing at the same pace as public expectation. There are plenty of exceptions out there. There might even be more if we looked to lift these exceptions up instead of proving community fears that lead to Common Core standards.

While I'm not going to debate Common Core standards today, there does seem to be an emphasis on holding all students to a certain standard of knowledge. On the surface, that seems fine. But in reality, someone forgot that measuring knowledge is not a measure of intelligence. Why is that important?

As Albert Einstein once put it, "the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." 

And when you look at any of the students I mentioned above, all of them seem to bear this out. Their successes weren't based on what they knew but instead on their tenacity in finding out what nobody else knew.

Who's going to teach them that? Based on some feedback from early adopters in education, it won't be taught by Common Core. While problem solving is claimed to be a criteria, creativity and imagination   cannot be accurately measured — as they tend to manifest themselves in the least likely ways.

Andraka in medicine. Full in engineering. Gutwein in charity. Rosenbaum in music. Before any of them, Sam Duncan, the clerk who would become a chief operating officer. How do we test for this?

We can't test for it because there is no benchmark for innovation, which requires thinking, creativity, tenacity, and self-motivation. It's precisely the kind of stuff that employers have found to be lacking in recent college graduates. And it's precisely the reason that Mark Cuban might have a point.

Save education?
Cuban thinks that we are overdue for a meltdown in college education (hat tip: Ruthie). His reasoning feels right as the return on investment for tuition increases has become unmanageable. Ergo, the student-debt ratio has outpaced graduate earning potential. And without the infusion of easy money in the form of government grants and loans, the university system as we know it will likely face a collapse.

He might be right. The university system has adopted economics that aren't sustainable (with fewer and fewer full-time professors in exchange for underpaid ad hoc instructors) without a considerable infusion of easy money. At the same time, there is a segment of students that are becoming less empowered and more entitled — people who expect a free education in the field of their choice with guaranteed employment to do the status quo work that they learned was permissible in middle school.

This is never going to work. And worse, trying to fix what exists now harkens back to the opening of the article. It's always too late to fix today's problems; and online classrooms are tomorrow's problem.

The classroom of the future won't be "online" exclusively. 

If we really want to develop an education system for the future, we need to start with a blank slate and establish a vision and values that are important such as a program that is affordable, flexible, applicable, and with post-program opportunities. And then we need to ask how those qualities might be realized in programs across a variety of fields.

This kind of thinking doesn't necessarily have to preclude the liberal education experience, which can prove useful when combined for a maximum effect. But before we even consider what might be worth salvaging, we might establish a new format — taught partly online, partly in person (as workshops to augment online instruction), partly on independent projects/study, and partly on group projects/labs with peers that produce something with a tangible value like any of the outcomes developed by the aforementioned students.

Classroom futures.
Who wouldn't want to hire them in their related fields? And if they aren't hired on by someone else, then perhaps they can start their own companies or organizations instead. Three out of the four I mentioned above started something. So why not expect undergraduates to do the same?

Even in my 10-week truncated Writing for Public Relations class, I offer students the same opportunity. One of several optional assignments asks them to develop a physical media kit for the nonprofit organization of their choice (with the permission of the organization). They can create an online version too, but the physical model helps them produce something tangible.

Naturally, my example is small scale for anything students might do in pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Much like master's and doctorate programs sometimes require a thesis, students deserve more hands-on opportunities that carry real world consequences. At least, that is what I think. What do you think?
 

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