Peacock brings marketing agency experience to classroom

Lecturer Marisa Peacock

Marisa Peacock, a new lecturer in the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, has spent most of her professional career in social media marketing and content marketing. She began at a time when most organizations didn't consider websites essential to their marketing strategy.

“They didn't know how to deliver the right content to the right people using the right platforms. Everything online was an afterthought,” Peacock said. 

She soon founded her own social media marketing consultancy to help clients enhance their online presence. “The Strategic Peacock was born out of necessity,” she said. Most of her time is spent conducting audience analyses, social media audits, and developing content to improve engagement and lead conversion. In 2014, one of her clients, the Georgetown Bagelry, made it onto Mashable's list of 32 small businesses that are "killing it on social." 

This fall, Peacock is teaching Writing for Public Relations (ADV 350) and Advertising Management Plan (ADV 491), where she emphasizes the elements of content strategy and supportive content workflow.

“Before you can create effective content, you need to understand an organization's communication goals, their brand values, and their audience,” she said. “Then, you need to understand how to make your content stand out.”

After spending several classes in Writing for Public Relations learning about the elements of good content and content strategy, Peacock divided students into three groups that would last for the semester. She assigned them fictional organizations: The Dragonfly Inn (from Gilmore Girls), Stark Industries (from Iron Man), and Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (from Grey’s Anatomy). 

Before students could begin developing content for their assigned organizations, they needed to establish the message architecture to decide their communication goals. Using BrandSort Cards that feature 80 brand attributes (pictured below), students chose their organization's communication goals based on "who we are," "who we aren't," and "who we want to be." 

Students work with BrandSort cards

Students then prioritized their goals by focusing only on those in the "who we want to be" category and developed their organization's brand promise.

“Ultimately, by getting hands-on experience developing a company's message architecture, students become content strategists,” Peacock said. “Everyone who helps create content should know what they're trying to communicate on behalf of the organization. This exercise turns what is often passive engagement into a more dynamic one, so it's easier to embody those goals no matter what content you create.”

Throughout the course, she has also implemented several in-class exercises to help students write more creatively, as well as design exercises that help to incorporate “user-centered” perspectives into their copy. 

As digital media evolves, Peacock leverages industry trends and strategies to help her clients and her students. Right now, the focus is on online platforms and showrooming, which is when someone shops in a brick-and-mortar store but makes their purchase online. 

“Understanding [these] purchase decisions can help businesses better leverage the right strategies to convert leads,” Peacock said.

—Kimberly Belser, Communications and Marketing Intern