Robert Jeffers is a passionate Advertising Instructor incorporating service learning into his ADV 346 Special Events and Promotions and ADV 347 Advertising Copywriting courses. He teaches students how to be professional and get hired through certifiable performances with real-world clients.
When students utilize service learning, they write for real-world clients, which enables those students to increase their confidence and build credibility for their portfolios. Mr. Jeffers makes his students think, “What is the product? What is the benefit? Who is the target audience?” Service learning also inspires the students to be better writers. Mr. Jeffers guarantees that his advertising students have had ideas as good as many real-world professional writers. The students’ originality, education, and practice with a variety of clients help them become employees that stand out in the workforce. Mr. Jeffers says, “They really get it done!”
ADV 346 Special Events and Promotions is a course where students create and construct promotions and events for clients who then evaluate the students’ projects, getting both academic and professional evaluation. The students participate in one USI advertising project and one project for a community partner. Projects done for USI promote events on campus, making them fun and attractive to the student population. In the Fall 2015 semester, ADV 346 students advertised free immunizations at Glenwood Leadership Academy for the surrounding community in need. The Vanderburgh County Health Department was amazed with the students’ skills, seeing their work as professional and high quality. Four students, Nikki Hayes, Kelsey Miller, Alex Metka, and Danielle Cater, received ADDY Awards for their job well done. The ADDY Awards, or American Advertising Awards, is the America’s largest advertising competition. ADDY Awards “recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.”
ADV 347 Advertising Copywriting is a course which connects students with real-world clients and promotes students’ research abilities, providing them with excellent portfolio pieces. Students presenting portfolios at job interviews make stronger impressions. Students write advertisements for magazines, posters, billboards, radio, and television commercials of varying lengths and styles. In 2013, USI students worked with Holly’s House, a child and adult victim advocacy center here in Evansville. Holly’s House “empowers victims of intimate crime and abuse by providing support, promoting justice, and preventing violence.” The director of Holly’s House spoke to the class on what Holly’s House does for the community and the specific needs to emphasize for effective advertising. A public service announcement made by the students was aired on the radio to raise awareness and encourage people to donate to Holly’s House. Mr. Jeffers was so pleased with the writing done by the class of 2013 that he gave each student a Holly’s House bear as a souvenir in recognition and remembrance of their good work.
Mr. Jeffers has many other examples of service learning throughout his courses. Last year, students designed a commercial for the Vanderburgh County Humane Society (VHS). Due to the students’ powerful advertising projects, more animals have a chance of being adopted. Non-profit organizations receive the students’ work at no charge because they may not be able to afford agency work. A TV spot can easily cost $2,000 each time it airs and many radio ads cost as much as $140 each time one is aired. That money can feed a lot of pets and take care of expenses around the shelter. Kendall Paul, director of VHS explained, “The Vanderburgh Humane Society proudly works with Mr. Jeffers’s advertising students from USI. Their creativity and service allows our non-profit the opportunity to get quality advertising done when our budget wouldn’t normally allow for it. It is always exciting to see what the bright students from USI come up with to help us further our mission.” Local community partners and non-profits are appreciative of the students’ work, and students gain hands-on experience that cannot be found in a textbook. A service learning method benefits everyone involved.
Howard’s Golf Superstore also benefited from Mr. Jeffers’ ADV347 students. Breaking into groups, the students created four commercials to be aired on radio. Mr. Howard applauded the students’ work and sent the students recordings of their radio commercials in order for them to hear their hard work after being professionally produced. He also sent thank you notes explaining how pleased he was with their work.
The Southwestern Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition also benefited from the copywriting students. Students made a commercial for the organization promoting the hotline telephone number people in need can call 24/7 in order to speak with a trained professional. Students specifically wrote to someone who may be considering suicide, reaching out to those people with options and help available to them.
Recently, a former student contacted Mr. Jeffers, asking if his students would be interested in helping her advertise the expansion of her business. She treasures her education from USI and knows the USI advertising students have outstanding ideas to offer. It is special to see companies contacting USI students for professional help. Mr. Jeffers is proud of his students, past and present. He is honored to stay in touch with his former students, motivating his new students with their success stories.
Mr. Jeffers has a blast with his students and encourages service learning to them all. He explains that he can make up assignments for them, but service learning gets students more emotionally involved. Service learning is more personal, boosts confidence, and truly makes a difference in the real world.