Promotion Management class develops marketing strategy for local theater4 min read
by ASHLEY MARTIN
Each semester, students in UMW’s Promotion Management class put their previous coursework into action by developing a marketing plan for a local business. This spring, the class is working with The Riverside Center for the Performing Arts to broaden its audience.
“Students have the chance to spend a good portion of this semester working in their marketing teams looking at every aspect of local Integrated Marketing—advertising, direct and digital, sales promotions, personal selling and publicity,” said College of Business Lecturer Dan Wolfe, who teaches the class. “I want students to apply what they’ve learned in their previous coursework and apply it to actual situations.”
Because Riverside mostly attracts older audience members, the theater will use the students’ plan to draw in a younger crowd.
“Working with UMW just seemed like the perfect thing to do, to be able to work with the students and get a perspective from the younger audience of how to get you guys involved in the theatre,” said Allison Mayberry, director of marketing and group sales at Riverside. “I’m hoping to gain an insight into how you guys think and how the class uses the marketing industry. Just seeing it from a different perspective.”
In teams of five or six, the class is utilizing their knowledge of marketing and advertising to market Riverside as a destination for young people to enjoy.
“By looking at what elements they have now, we can help them achieve that goal of reaching a younger demographic through social media and digital marketing via the internet,” said senior marketing major Duke Morisset. “Especially in the business side of things, this experience has made me think and do more than the standard rubric for other courses at UMW. So far, it’s going pretty well and I look forward to finding what other aspects I could learn.”
Working with Riverside has allowed senior marketing and German double major Sydney Burnley to understand how elements like social media, traditional media and publicity collide in integrated marketing communications. Watching her schoolwork have a tangible impact, she said, has been a rewarding aspect of the class.
“By giving students, like myself, the opportunity to work with real clients in the community and create marketing pitches and strategies, we are able to more tangibly apply everything we have learned in the classroom,” she said. “It also feels rewarding to see my knowledge and skills, along with my classmates, directly translated to helping a local business.”
Through this hands-on experience, Wolfe’s goal is to equip his students with the confidence and capability to make an impact in their chosen fields. The project has allowed students to push themselves out of their comfort zone and explore new possibilities.
“Promotions and advertising are a complex field and it can be difficult to do in a traditional class setting,” said Morisset. “I believe working on the project with Riverside has made the material learned in class more applicable to life after college, which is a plus.”
Since he began teaching at UMW five years ago, Wolfe has been teaching Promotion Management. Recognizing the need for his students to gain hands-on experience working with the local Fredericksburg community, he developed this program, allowing students to create marketing plans for local businesses and make a positive impact.
“I quickly realized that as a 400 level class, I wanted students to get practical experience with the local Fredericksburg community,” said Wolfe. “Past campaigns have included two local Skrimp Shack Restaurants, a daily bus service called ROX, and the UMW College of Business.”
Wolfe decided to partner with Riverside after consulting UMW’s Executive Director of the Center for Economic Development Brian Baker to see if he had recommendations for companies looking for a marketing plan.
“Brian and I had talked in the past about my Promotion Management class working on one of their projects,” said Wolfe. “I really liked the challenge that the Riverside Center for the Performance Arts brings to our students.”
In addition to the class, Riverside is looking to partner with the university more broadly.
“We’ve got opportunities for anybody that is in Mary Washington that’s looking to do theatre for a living. They can come here and audition for shows. We’d like it to be a working partnership,” said Mayberry. “It’s a staple in the community that people can come to and if you’re looking to intern, looking to make some cash, it’s a good relationship that we’d like to build because I don’t think there is one right now.”
Some of Riverside’s current actors have grown up in the area and went to UMW, Mayberry said.
“I think the Fredericksburg area is really blessed to have Riverside here because the quality of the shows,” she said. “It’s almost like you’re in New York, but you don’t have to leave Fredericksburg. Some that have gone to Mary Washington, and of course some of our actors or actresses that we bring in from out of town.”
The students hope to continue using this experience in their careers.
“Post-college, the ability to work in small groups, communication tactics, and organizational skills are all applicable traits that many jobs are looking for,” said Morisset.