Marketing students at the University of Ulster’s Business School have gained hands on experience of digital marketing through collaborations with businesses including top restaurants James Street South and Hadskis.
The academic-industry partnerships have seen both BSc and MSc students act as digital marketing consultants to a wide range of businesses. The learning model, devised by marketing Professor Mark Durkin, will help equip students for marketing roles in an ever increasing digital world and it is hoped businesses will benefit from the students’ carefully planned digital strategies.
Professor Durkin said: “Marketing has become more digital in emphasis and it is vital that today’s graduates offer future or existing employers expert knowledge and skills in how digital technology can add value to marketing and consequently, to the overall business.
“Given the pace of change in marketing practice it is imperative that student learning focuses its attention at the interface between theory and practice. Using a live case study assignment where students act as consultants on a real company’s digital strategy is a great example of a successful academic-industry partnership.”
James Street South and Hadskis owner Joanne McKenna said the collaboration with BSc students was a “real digital opportunity” for the restaurants she owns with her husband, chef Niall McKenna.
She said: “We want to develop our brand digitally and position it to support the quality experience that we’re known for – both in terms of food and also service. The student consultants have been working on making that opportunity real.
“The winning team demonstrated its unique ability to assess our digital presence and devised a strategy to improve our communications. This has now been taken in house and is being used to improve our presence in new media. The experience was enlightening and very worthwhile.”
BSc Marketing student Carleen Hughes, said: “Being a part of the James Street South group digital experience was an excellent opportunity to work on a current marketing challenge. Working with a top restaurant in Belfast has proven highly beneficial and we know that this experience will be extremely valuable on graduation. Our group is excited to see how our recommendations are implemented, and can’t wait to see James Street South grow their digital presence.”
The BSc students have also benefited from visits from alumni of the University to share their expertise in digital marketing.