Beginning in the fall of 2022, the Lubbock Christian University (LCU) Department of Communication and Fine Arts will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication.
Dr. Shawn Hughes, Assistant Professor of Communication, will be heading up the program.
“We’re on the leading edge of this,” he shared of the creation of the program. While LCU has long offered degrees in Mass Media as well as Communications, the new Integrated Marketing Communication degree will bridge the gap between those areas and other disciplines often focused on in business, such as marketing.
“In education, there's this false dichotomy between advertising and public relations,” he shared, “but really, they're integrated, two sides of the same coin.” Dr. Hughes explained that the degree will touch on branding, packaging, corporate promotions, and all aspects of reaching the public, whether it's through paid advertising, or public relations, with an emphasis on social media.
“Social media is such a powerful tool,” he shared, “but it’s like a sharp razor. On the one hand, from a social perspective, we really need to be aware of the dangers of social media—but on the other hand, for marketing perspective, there's never been a better tool to target our audience.”
Dr. Hughes explained that LCU developed two new courses for the program, both focusing on social media. The first, Social Media Communication, focuses on the media holistically, how social media works, what the pros and cons are, and focuses on the historic way that it has permeated modern existence. The second new course, E-Marketing and Social Media, is more narrowly focused on utilizing the targeting capabilities of social medias in the marketplace, especially regarding messaging and audience.
“The area of study is still pretty new,” he continued, “but it's one that I believe will be widely offered within the next 10 years. We’re just pleased to be able to offer it early, and yet at the same time maintain the excellence that we've established,” he added. “At its heart, this is still a communication degree. We still have elements of basic public speaking, of how to interact with humans on the nonverbal and verbal levels, as well as the advertising, public relations, strategic thinking within the organization.”
The Department of Communication and Fine Arts worked closely with the School of Business as they formed the degree, and students on that track will take courses like Introduction to Digital Media, Principles of Marketing, and Consumer Behavior.
The final component of the program will be foundational for helping students exit LCU with the experience needed to succeed in the marketplace—internships.
“We're also very focused on their internship experience,” Dr. Hughes explained. “This opens a whole new avenue for us in which to place our interns, because we don't just want them at a good company—we want to specifically place them in the external communication area of that company, where they can truly focus on social media, and on getting their message out through those avenues. It will be much more narrowly focused, and yet maintain the rigor that we've already established for our degrees.”
Internships in the communications degrees require students to spend 120 closely supervised hours in their business field. They work closely with their company and turn in regular reports on their work. They also are required to conduct an extensive interview with their supervisor, and the entire experience culminates in a final presentation to a group of faculties, which is often also attended by their internship supervisor. Dr. Hughes noted that many of these internships have led directly to job offers upon graduation.
Students holding with this degree will be prepared to enter numerous sectors, he shared. Public relations, advertising, and marketing jobs are all natural fits, but the beauty of the program is that it focuses on flexibility.
“It's all so fluid,” he shared. “Today, those dominant platforms are Facebook and Google, but what if those change? We're training our students on the concepts because those concepts are timeless. When we're talking about return on investment, and we're asking, ‘How many 1000s of people do I reach with this, what's my cost per 1000,’ and those principles are still relevant. That doesn't change, whether we're talking about Tik Tok, Instagram, or whatever the next big wave in social media is.”
“This degree and training can apply to so many different kinds of organizations,” Dr. Hughes added. “It’s not just for the grocery store selling specials—there are churches utilizing these practices, and small businesses, even governmental entities. It can apply in so many different places.”
Learn more about the Comunications and Fine Arts programs at LCU.