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Business Management students’ expertise to help local charity

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Pictured L-R: Project manager Sue, Jessica Murray, outreach worker Daryl, Dan and Lily Robinson

Many modules at the Management School integrate real-world problems which students are asked to solve. For our third-year Business Management undergraduates, the ‘Management Project’ module, led by Michael Frize, is a great opportunity for their work and recommendations to actually make an impact on an organisation. This was demonstrated recently when problems in eight organisations were subject to the scrutiny of our students.

Ben’s Centre, a Sheffield charity that supports homeless people that are often vulnerable and involved with alcohol, presented a challenge; they needed to raise awareness of the charity and increase donations from the public in terms of funds and volunteering. The response from students Lily Robinson and Jessica Murray focused on their marketing. Lily’s recommendations discussed how shock advertising might help their cause; understanding students as a target demographic; and how they could enhance their digital platforms. Jessica recommended that they develop a brand personality based on the people at the core of the charity; formulate a more relationship focused marketing approach, using storytelling; and reviewed brand guidelines, using a consistent identity, based on a new logo, colour selections and typefaces, all informed by the brand personality.

The charity was so impressed with their recommendations that they intend on integrating them into future campaigns.

Lily said: “The project involved writing a literature review, using literature to solve their issues and then coming up with recommendations. We then had to do a poster presentation to feedback findings to our company. After choosing to deliver on their brief I visited Ben’s Centre, got a feel for the charity and the work they do, and then got going! My placement year helped a lot as I have practical experience in marketing. I also got plenty of support from Michael, the module leader – I had weekly sessions I could attend where we discussed my coursework progress.

Jessica added: “As soon as I saw the pitch by Ben’s Centre, I knew it was the project I was seeking for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I would be able to apply my marketing expertise to offer genuine help to a charity. Secondly, as it would help me to broaden my academic understanding of the subject and finally because the cause is a matter close to my heart. This project has been really rewarding as I have not only enhanced my own learning, but have been able to provide some tangible recommendations that should hopefully be of use to such a great charity. Feedback I’ve received from the charity was amazing – they feel my solutions were very well communicated and a number of the recommendations made have formed the structure of a new marketing and communications policy for Ben’s Centre.”

Lily added: “It was so rewarding to do a piece of coursework I knew Ben’s Centre was going to use – it was a motivation. It was great to present back my ideas to them as they really liked my recommendations and are hoping to implement some of them in the future. I have not done many poster presentations before and it was a great way to improve my communication skills in an unfamiliar setting.”

The Management School is keen to hear from other organisations keen to benefit from our students’ expertise. Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, Professor Paul Latreille, said: “I’m delighted to see that both parties have benefited from this module. Although our students are introduced to live case-studies throughout their degree, the Management Project puts onus on practical skills and making informed, realistic recommendations. We’re very proud of Lily and Jessica and can’t wait to see Ben’s Centre thrive as a result of their projects.”

Find out more about Bens Centre on their website: https://benscentre.wordpress.com/

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