Going to school with a sibling is an experience that many siblings have in their lifetime. However, more rarely do students have the experience of attending the same college as their siblings. Even more rarely are siblings in the same program and major at the exact same time. TAI students and sisters Jessica and Tiffany Giraudon share this experience.
With only a one-year difference in age, Jessica and Tiffany were admitted to the program at the exact same time. The only difference is that Jessica is specializing in Strategic Brand Management while her younger sister Tiffany is on the Creative track.
“Jessica and I have always been competitive but in the best way possible,” Tiffany said. “We don’t want to beat each other as much as we want to push the other to perform at their fullest potential. Having classes together has definitely fostered our competitive side, but also fostered a want to help and see the other succeed. Jessica and I have always had different habits when it comes to school and how we like to get things done so it has been nice to see the way we have evolved and worked together through group projects and various courses.”
The Strategic Brand Management and Creative tracks have very different style classes and subject matter. The Creative track has very hands-on courses that have student constantly producing ads, logos, and other relevant design work. The Strategic Brand Management track focuses more on the account side of advertising, including strategic planning, business development, and brand management. Because of the differences in tracks, Jessica and Tiffany have grown to appreciate the work each other does.
“It wasn’t until I took the Creative Production class that I realized how much time, dedication and skill it takes to produce high quality creative work,” Jessica said. “I view my work in brand management and planning as the precursor to strong creative work. Our job is to provide consumer insight and direction so that the creatives can develop ways to engage consumers by creating an actual ad.”
While many of the classes they take differ because of their specializations, they have taken many of the general core advertising courses together. This has allowed them to grow their relationship in a new way.
“It was always a relief to have a sister in class for multiple reasons,” Tiffany said. “I always had an automatic group partner I knew would pull their weight, I always had a buddy to sit by in class, and I always had someone who understood the work I was doing and could push me to do my best work. It has definitely made the program enjoyable and allowed me to get to know my sister in a new, academic setting.”
Both sisters agree that having a sibling in their same program influenced their experiences for the better.
“Having Tiffany in the advertising program enhanced my experience in the program,” Jessica said. “It equipped me with a better understanding of and appreciation for other disciplines within advertising. It’s interesting to hear her talk about what she’s learning in her classes and impressive to see the work she’s producing.”
Every semester multiple SMU and TAI students intern with D Magazine, as they have a wide variety of positions available to students and allow them to gain experience during the school year. This semester, two TAI students on the Strategic Brand Management track, Elissa Evanich and Bella Pepin, are both interning with D Custom, a content marketing agency owned by D Magazine.
Evanich serves as a Content Marketing Intern, while Pepin is a Social Media Intern. Both work on social media but different aspects of it. Evanich does competitive research and social media analytics, while Pepin primarily produces content for D Custom’s social media platforms. That being said, the average day of an intern is similar regardless of position.
“I come in and check my email first,” Pepin said. “There are always emails about happenings or free stuff from the D Magazine team downstairs, so I look out for those. I write, edit, and schedule out social for the week. I go to all the meetings my manager attends, which is a lot. We have an intern project due at the end of the semester, so we work on that during work hours too.”
As the internship has progressed, Evanich has learned the importance of certain skills to the world of content marketing.
“Content marketing is interesting because it learning how to write as the voice of the brand,” Evanich said. “This internship has given me additional experience in writing and speaking professionally. I think being able to not just sell yourself but also your ideas is very important. ”
Evanich also emphasized the importance of Google certifications in content marketing and encourages anyone interested in the field to pursue the Analytics certification as soon as possible.
Along with specific skills relevant to content marketing, Pepin has learned some broader lessons that apply to all agencies and jobs.
“[I’ve learned that] not every person is right for every job,” Pepin said. “Agency culture and workplace culture are of supreme importance. The industry can change in an instant, but I like knowing that I am learning whatever I can today to be better tomorrow. [I’ve also learned that] I love Dallas more than I thought.”
A unique aspect of working for D Magazine or D Custom is having other TAI students going through the same experience as you. While most interns all have a separate title and purpose, they work together and help each other out during the workday.
“We work together on a lot of stuff,” Pepin said. “It is nice to have a familiar face and someone to talk to if I’m struggling. Sometimes there are ah-ha moments when things that we’ve learned at TAI are applicable to what we are doing, and it’s cool to know that she gets it.”
Sharing the internship experience, Evanich and Pepin have been able to learn and grow together, applying what they’ve learned in their Strategic Brand Management classes as well as learning new skills.
“We both have a similar skill set since we have been in the same classes,” Evanich said. “So if I don’t know how to do something, she doesn’t either. In that way, we both can ask another employee to help us out, and we both learn from the experience.”
Both Evanich and Pepin have enjoyed learning and growing their skill sets at D Custom. As their internships are almost over, Pepin has advice for any students that are looking to apply there in the future.
“If you are planning to apply to D Custom, know the difference between the agency and D Magazine,” Pepin said. “D Custom is completely separate and different from the publication, and you should know why before [you] apply.”
If you are interested in applying for an internship with D Custom or D Magazine and have any questions about the experience, feel free to contact Elissa Evanich (email@example.com) or Bella Pepin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thursday April 13, Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. Grace Ahn, assistant professor at University of Georgia. Dr. Ahn discussed her research, “Virtual Interactions that Impact Physical Behaviors: Applications in Consumer Psychology and Health Contexts,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event.
“I was very intrigued by Dr. Ahn’s research on virtual environments and how the interaction between virtual and actual reality can provide benefits to one’s personal health, education, and the natural environment,” TAI Professor Sidharth Muralidharan said. “We were fortunate to have Dr. Ahn make the trip to Dallas and discuss her cutting-edge research. ”
Through her research study, Dr. Ahn assesses how interactive digital media transform traditional rules of communication and social interactions, looking at how virtual experiences shape the way people think, feel, and behave in the physical world.
“Dr. Grace Ahn’s cutting-edge research is of major importance to a wide variety of fields,” TAI Professor Peter Noble said. “Her ability to convey the essence of her research into virtual reality and its application to the real world made it both accessible and understandable.”
Her ongoing work includes a NSF funded project exploring the application of virtual agents to promote STEM learning for children in informal learning environments, such as children’s museums. Her work has been published in a number of flagship outlets, including Journal of Advertising, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Health Communication, Human-Computer Interaction, and Media Psychology.
Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Ahn for a lecture on her research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.
Many people aspire to start a blog, but many are unsuccessful when it comes to turning that blog into a profitable outlet. TAI student Emma Clayton has been running her own blog, Dash of Serendipity, for over five years. She has even been able to make a profit off of her blog through affiliate links and sponsors.
In the beginning, Clayton had no intention of starting a blog, but as she gained a large following she decided to start an official blog, which is a combination of fashion, beauty, and just life in general.
“Back in 2012 I created a Tumblr account, just as all my friends were,” Clayton said. “Slowly I started posting photos of my outfits and gained a pretty large following through that. Eventually I realized I wanted to have the opportunity to write more in-depth posts and moved my blog to a platform more suited for blogging. My first Tumblr username was ‘sweetest-serendipityyy,’ after the Lee DeWyze song ‘Sweet Serendipity.’ As my blog was getting bigger I realized that [it] might not be the most professional name, so I came up with ‘Dash of Serendipity.’”
While running a blog sounds like fun and games, there can be many challenges that arise along the way, especially for a student who is also managing school and extracurriculars.
“This year trying to juggle the work from my classes and everything else I’m involved in on top of my blog has been difficult,” Clayton said. “I am the Director of Communications at SMU Relay for Life and the Vice President of Public Relations in my sorority, which are both positions that demand a lot of my time. I definitely haven’t posted on my blog as frequently as I would have liked to this year, but that serves as motivation to keep trying to become a better time manager and planner.”
Clayton’s interest in fashion and running a blog led her to major in Advertising with a specialization in Digital Media Strategy and minor in Fashion Media and Graphic Design. With this combination, Clayton is learning all the right skills to continue running her blog for a long time.
“One of the reasons I was interested in pursuing the Digital Media track in Advertising was because of my blog,” Clayton said. “After a few years of having my blog I realized that I was organically teaching myself how to advertise in the digital space as I was promoting and sharing my blog content across many platforms. Now, I see myself using and solidifying the ideas and strategies I’m learning in my classes on my blog almost immediately after learning them.”
Some of the strategies Clayton is learning in her Digital Media Strategy courses include SEO and using Google Analytics to boost her blog on the web.
“Most recently, I’ve been able to use a lot of the skills I learned in my Media, Metrics and Measurements class to more fully understand Google Analytics,” Clayton said. “I’ve been using Google Analytics on my blog for a few years, but was very unfamiliar with the information I was generating. Now, I feel like I have a more solid understanding of the platform.”
Clayton’s favorite part about having a blog is having a place to channel her creativity, and she hopes to continue her blog as long as she can.
“There are times where school gets more busy and difficult where I have to put my blog on the back burner,” Clayton said. “I always realize during these times that I feel like I’m lacking something. Having my blog to put all of my creative energy into is really great.”
Since graduate school, TAI Professor Suzanne Larkin has had a relationship with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and prototyped a program to aid learning for children with dyslexia. Professor Larkin got her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication from Texas A&M Commerce (downtown Dallas), a program that combines Curriculum Development, Design Research, and Business.
“My inspiration came from a challenge as I was acquiring an MFA,” Professor Larkin said. “The challenge was to connect with a ‘giant’ and create something that could benefit them, and do what we call ‘move the needle,’ which means collect data that shows efficacy of what we do as visual communicators. In that challenge I kind of conducted a search, like what people do for thesis topic development. And that started with talking to others to find problems in major organizations where visual narratives or visual solutions could be beneficial. So part of my talking to people came out of tools that we use in the creative industry, like mind maps. I created maps to focus on who to talk to, and in which organizations. I kept running into the same response, and that was that children with dyslexia don’t have enough of the proper resources to help them grow at early diagnosis point, like 2nd and 3rd grade. I was inspired because I love to have fun in my work, and I like to do whimsical concepts. I used to design greeting cards. I’ve done radio, broadcast, outdoor, print. I’ve done it all in my career. So I thought this was a great opportunity to touch a target audience and provide something that hopefully benefits them.”
“I met with Karen Avrit, who is the Education Director,” Professor Larkin said. “We got together during therapy time and talked about what the patients were doing. I asked ‘Why are the children trying to read stories from text when they have reading challenges? Have they ever seen these stories?’ Of course, I’m thinking about this as a visual communicator because pictures say a lot. Karen thought that was a valid question since they didn’t have a visual representation of the fluency stories.”
At that point Ms. Avrit and Professor Larkin realized that there could be a way of using visual narrative to help in teaching punctuation.
“Their fluency program already has a brand called ‘Take Flight,’” Professor Larkin said. “So I thought, if I’m going to create intellectual property for the punctuation, I’ll need to give it a brand too. And of course I got really excited, because I love to create brands. Then I started thinking about color, typography, style of graphics, and on and on.”
From there Professor Larkin developed Ellah’s Tools. Ellah, standing for Experiential Language Learning At Home, could act as an at-home supplement to “Take Flight,” a fluency program developed by the Center for Dyslexia.
“Karen asked me if there was a way to allow parents access to the tools so they could use them at home for supplementing what was being done during therapy time at school,” Professor Larkin said.
Professor Larkin did extensive research and concepting in the process of creating Ellah’s Tools. She had to find a way to animate and teach six basic punctuation marks to children with learning differences, in a way that would keep them engaged.
“Just like with branding, when things are always the same sometimes consumers get tired of it,” Professor Larkin said. “So of course these consumers would be second and third grade children so I want to make it exciting. Every week I gave them a different genre. The comma is based on blues. And I thought, okay, who is someone that inspires me when it comes to blues; well that was BB King. So the song was the style of BB King’s music.”
Throughout the creation process, Professor Larkin never had any sort of budget. She used a combination of her own talents, friends’ talents, and purchasing inexpensive stock music to create prototypes. She used Garage Band to create and edit the music, and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash to create the final product.
“One of my Professors at Texas A&M actually has a blues band,” Professor Larkin said. “They’ve been around for years, and so Bill Ford was gracious to sing the lyrics for the comma. And sang it in his style to music that sounded like typical BB King blues. Because I don’t have a budget, I used a high definition recorder that I purchased. And we recorded in closets and small office spaces, so that there was limited echo. All of that came together in Flash and what we decided to do was instead of flushing out everything at the beginning, because it’s research…and things change, we thought…let’s do it in segments.”
Ellah’s Tools is designed to be a visual curriculum that reinforces what students learn in therapy. In creating the first prototype, Professor Larkin got parents involved through solicitation with therapists at schools in Wiley, Texas. Each week, she gave the therapists a package that include a DVD for parents to use at home and games to go along with the fluency stories.
“Parents were excited to participate. One parent told me that her daughter kept reminding her not to miss the meeting! I met with them for coaching on how to use the prototypes that we were putting together,” Professor Larkin said. “One of the stories was about different types of animals on a farm, so I [created] a scavenger hunt [game]. Another story was about some kids at the beach, so I created a word and image match game. The parents had that to play with alongside a list of prompts that they could use to excite their kids, what kind of conditions that the environment should be in when the kids are interacting with the tools for best case scenario.”
Professor Larkin was able to get feedback from the parents as well as the therapists collecting data. She created a pre- and a post-test for the therapists to evaluate the students. Both tested students not only on their fluency, but on prosody, and their comprehension of punctuation.
“The post-test revealed encouraging data,” Professor Larkin said. “All of the students showed improvement in their reading abilities and comprehension in at least one area. That was really exciting for what it meant to have children experience learning in a different way. It was multi-sensory and reinforced their therapy at home but in a fun way. When the study was done the parents participated in a survey on Survey Monkey. The feedback was great.”
Professor Larkin is hopeful for the future of design research. Last semester she met with the Budd Center at SMU, looking for the potential of sharing the punctuation prototypes with public schools in Dallas. She is also waiting to hear back from a unique school in Dallas that was created specifically for children with learning differences.
“My hope is that there is a way to be able to share these tools, and create more,” Professor Larkin said. “Right now there still isn’t a budget, so that means grant writing, begging, and convincing. I think visual narratives can assist all learning styles.”