Recently, I had the privilege of sitting on the other side of the pitch table and evaluating University of Toronto Rotman Commerce students who were presenting marketing ideas for a fictional product. The product this time was an allegedly carcinogenic, 1989 cell phone.
Brand Blitz is an annual marketing exercise for these young business students to learn about advertising and communications. It’s also an opportunity for them to learn about giving presentations.
This is my third time judging their work and the ability of these students to take limited information and experience and turn it into good ideas continues to impress me. After viewing the creative and well-delivered presentations, I liked, for the most part, that they defined stakeholders and used a decent mix of marketing to solve the fictional problem of the cancer-causing cell phone.
However, I was surprised that none of the three teams included public relations, which is critical for managing issues. So I asked, “Do they teach you PR in your marketing programs?” Unfortunately the answer was “no.”
Which means it’s time to augment the undergrad curriculum at Rotman. After all, the company that tries to manage its way out of an issue or crisis without PR is a company that’s failing. As most everyone knows, a brand without third-party support is a brand is in trouble.