School of Journalism and New Media

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Posts Tagged ‘integrated marketing communication’

Meet Our Students: IMC student Ali Arnold

Posted on: March 15th, 2019 by ldrucker

Meet University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Ali Arnold.

The Natchez native, 21, is a junior studying integrated marketing communication and general business, who spent her last two years of high school in Brookhaven, Mississippi studying visual arts at the Mississippi School of the Arts.

Arnold was determined to pursue an art degree in college, but later began thinking about studying advertising since it would allow her to channel her creativity. After learning about the IMC program, she declared a major and fell in love with her studies.

“IMC isn’t just a degree or a career path,” she said, “it’s a mindset and a philosophy on how to approach the world and solve problems.”

After an internship at Bright Rain Advertising in Orlando, Florida, Arnold decided public relations was not the right path for her. But she fell in love with brand strategy and research after taking classes on both in the IMC program.

She plans to work for an advertising agency after school in either Boston or Miami, her two favorite cities.

Meet Our Students is a new feature from Oxford Stories and the UM Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. To learn how you can become a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

International IMC master’s graduate makes mark with massive fundraiser

Posted on: February 19th, 2019 by ldrucker

Mina Ghofrani Esfahani was pursuing a master’s degree in the University of Mississippi’s integrated marketing communication program in fall 2017 when her compassion for a critically ill child in her home country prompted her to put to practical use the theories she was learning.

Esfahani was born and raised in Iran. She took to English quickly as a teenager, began teaching others the language before she finished high school and eventually majored in English and applied linguistics as an undergraduate student in that country.

During her time as a graduate student in the UM integrated marketing communication program, Mina Esfahani organized a social media fundraiser to raise money for a seriously ill child in her home country of Iran. The campaign drew in more than $700,000 that was sent to the child’s family to help with medical costs. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

During her time as a graduate student in the UM integrated marketing communication program, Mina Esfahani organized a social media fundraiser to raise money for a seriously ill child in her home country of Iran. The campaign drew in more than $700,000 that was sent to the child’s family to help with medical costs. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

After immigrating to the United States with her husband, an Ole Miss student, she learned that one of her former English teaching colleagues had a child born with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects nerve cells that control voluntary muscles, complicating breathing and eating.

Esfahani, who also became a student at UM after moving to Oxford, was inspired by her passion and knowledge of social media to start her own campaign for the 9-month-old child, named Radin. In just six weeks on Facebook, the campaign raised more than $700,000 that would eventually make it to the boy’s family to help pay for the expensive treatment that would keep him alive.

“Let’s confirm that borders cannot stop humanity,” she said on the Facebook page. “Help him see more loving days with his loving parents. Don’t leave them alone. Every dollar would count.”

The online fundraiser appealed to donors with Esfahani’s words of compassion for the child, who, she said, reminded her of three nephews back home that she missed dearly. Within hours of the first posting in October 2017, the campaign drew in its first $1,000.

“It kept getting shared,” Esfahani said. “I invited everybody I knew, and those people invited everybody they knew and it exponentially grew. Over five weeks, we had raised $705,000 in the campaign.

“There was momentum. I would go back and see what’s going on, and every time I checked there was more.”

Robert Magee, assistant professor and director of the IMC graduate program, was one of Esfahani’s mentors at Ole Miss. Magee said he was inspired watching Esfahani’s compassion and ability to apply the theories he was teaching to a practical online campaign.

“I gave her ideas on the most effective types of messaging and, sure enough, she tried some of these and they were quite successful,” Magee said.

Esfahani and her colleagues worked countless hours and made countless phone calls to find a country that would accept the child and administer the needed medication. The family eventually made its way to Belgium and through a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, the money made it to a hospital there that treated the child.

Esfahani said she is grateful to “the donors and supporters who invested their love, trust and energy in the campaign and had my back to the last stage of transferring the funds to the hospital.” The campaign received donations from people across the globe, many from the Persian community. Donors from 37 different countries made contributions.

Nearly 70 percent of children with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy don’t make it to age 2, but Esfahani said the boy is approaching his second birthday and all indications are that he is doing well.

Longing for America

When Esfahani was growing up, she often expressed a desire to move to the United States. She learned English and started teaching it to others in less than one year.

“I wanted to emigrate when I was 15 or 16, but then 9/11 happened and that was the period to that story,” she said.

She continued her education in Iran and eventually studied English in college, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees and serving as an adjunct lecturer. She met Vahid Ghomi, an Iranian graduate student at Ole Miss at the time, during one of his visits home. The two courted, their families met and they were married in July 2015.

Esfahani then successfully applied to attend UM as a graduate student seeking a second master’s degree, moved to the United States and joined Ghomi in Oxford.

Her passion for communication, social media and effective messaging pointed her in the direction of IMC, and she reached out to Magee to inquire about a degree program in marketing communication.

“She’s always been very proactive,” Magee said. “She always had a practical orientation of what needs to be done. She’s very focused and driven – very smart. She also has a lot of initiative.

“She’s not the kind of student who will just sit back, take notes and leave class. She always has some kind of commentary or some kind of observation.”

Esfahani quickly made a home in Oxford, she said.

“I was very lucky to have the chance to study here,” she said. “I really didn’t know what a wonderful place it was before I came, but now that I have gone to other cities and colleges, I realize how great a place it was.

“Everything is vibrant and lively. You see that people are really ‘living’ here at the university.”

The university’s Office of International Programs played a major role in her adjustment to life in the U.S., Esfahani said.

“They were very kind. I really felt at home with them,” she said, noting that the office would keep her up-to-date on events to attend and organizations to join. “I said, ‘This is not just academics; it’s going to be a life here.’”

Esfahani said she is struck by how welcoming the university was of international students.

“The one way I would describe Ole Miss is ‘all-inclusive,’” she said. “There’s academics, health, sports, fun, events and, to a great extent, they really pay attention to diversity.

“When I was talking to other international students, they never complain that at Ole Miss you are disregarded or people don’t know us. All of the events are for everybody.”

During her time at Ole Miss, Esfahani never missed an opportunity to exceed expectations. The IMC master’s program does not require a thesis, but she elected to complete one anyway. She worked on her thesis while also taking a full course load and running what equated to a full-time fundraising campaign.

As the money grew and the campaign gathered more traction, red tape began piling up. Dealing with international tax law, banking codes, international sanctions and organizing people and large amounts of money began to take a toll on Esfahani. But her support group in the IMC department and the Office of International Programs was there to help.

“She got a crash course in bureaucracy,” Magee said. “She was dealing with tax treaties and all kinds of things, but she was willing to say, ‘I don’t know,’ and find help from other people.”

Esfahani and other international students contribute to a more robust education experience for all students, Magee said.

“She has a perspective, coming from the Middle East, that always enriches a classroom,” he said.

Since moving to the U.S. in 2015, Esfahani’s only interaction with her family in Iran has been through social media and phone conversations. She talks to her parents daily and keeps them updated on her studies and life.

“I show them a lot (of pictures of Oxford),” she said. “My parents, like me, love cities with a lot of green with rain and nice people – calm, quiet – and Oxford is what they would like. I was sure if they were here, they would never feel depressed.”

Looking ahead

Esfahani completed her master’s degree in August 2018. She and Ghomi split time between Jackson and Cleveland, where he is an assistant professor at Delta State University. She works as a research analyst for WDBD Fox 40 in Jackson.

The couple often visits Oxford. When in town, Esfahani frequently visits the Oxford Community Garden, where she spent a great deal of time as a student.

“I was lucky to find the community garden,” she said. “Sometimes when I felt sad or bored, I would go do some gardening.”

Ole Miss left its mark on Esfahani, but Magee said he feels she left her mark on campus as well.

“It’s been a delight to work with her,” he said. “I think she’s made a valuable contribution to the program and to student life.”

The story was written by Justin Whitmore for University Communications. The photo is by Megan Wolfe of Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services. To learn more about the journalism or IMC programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

Meet IMC Student Olivia Nash: She says IMC offers a variety of career paths

Posted on: November 29th, 2018 by ldrucker

Meet IMC student Olivia Nash. Nash, a freshman, is from a small town called Sikeston, Missouri.

“I came to Ole Miss because I fell in love with the town first,” she said. “Oxford is such a special place, and the people in it make it even better. But, the town was not the only thing I fell in love with, as the Ole Miss campus is beautiful and the camaraderie from the people is unbeatable.”

IMC stands for integrated marketing communication. “I chose IMC as my major, because as a freshman, I really do not know exactly what I want to do,” she said. “My cousin, who also attends Ole Miss, is an IMC major, and through her, I figured out that I could find multiple careers through this major.”

There are many IMC-related careers, such as advertising account executive, social media manager, and sales executive.

“I honestly do not know the exact career I want to have when I get out of college,” Nash said, “but I do know that being an IMC major will allow me to keep my options open and available.”

Nash is driven and excited for her future. She is young, full of new ideas and ready to be an expert in her field.

“I truly am excited for what this major, Ole Miss, and my new experiences will have to offer me,” said Nash.

She will continue her education at the University of Mississippi, and she is determined to make her impact on the world. – By Rhylan Hillis.

With Miss Mississippi crown, School of Journalism and New Media student preps for Miss America stage

Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by ldrucker

Last month, Asya Branch was just a young woman with dedication and a dream.

Branch, a rising junior at the University of Mississippi, competed in beauty revues during her teenage years, but wanted to try her luck in the Miss Mississippi scholarship pageant.

“I’m the only one in my family that participates in these competitions and my family was not really connected to the pageant world, so at first I didn’t know how to make that happen,” she said.

After winning her local pageant and competing on the Miss Mississippi stage for the first time in 2016, the Booneville native was hooked.

“I knew I wanted to return and continue to get better until I won, but I just never expected it to happen so soon,” she said.

On the night of June 23 in Vicksburg, Branch’s name was called and her dream became a reality. She is Miss Mississippi 2018.

“When the last three of us finalists were standing there, there was a calmness that came over me,” she said. “We were all there to win, and I knew it would be fine, no matter what the results.”

Branch said time seemed to stand still before that moment.

“It felt like an eternity before the winner’s name was called, but in reality when I watched it over again, it was only about three seconds,” Branch said.

The feeling of getting to represent her home state on the Miss America stage is indescribable, she said.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Branch said. “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how my dream is now a reality.”

Her new title also gives her a louder voice to discuss her platform “Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents.”

Branch is one of those children. Her father has been in prison since she was 10.

“Being a child with an incarcerated parent takes a negative toll, with the stigmas that surround it,” she said. “There’s emotional distress, financial instability and so many questions about why a parent isn’t there.”

She wants to influence people’s lives by speaking at schools, churches, civic organizations and jails.

“It’s an underdiscussed topic and I hope to bring light to it by sharing my story so others can see that I’m doing something positive,” she said. “It’s perfectly fine to share and embrace the circumstances, because it’s part of who we are and it’s going to shape you. By talking about it, we can take down the gate of judgment.”

Instead of dwelling on the challenges her family has faced, Branch has turned it into her purpose, providing resources for children that she did not have when she was younger.

“There is no reason for these children to be any less successful than their peers,” she said.

Branch’s father remains one of her biggest supporters.

“He has told me to strive to be successful,” she said. “He sees a bright future for me and doesn’t want me to settle. He wants me to achieve my goals.”

Her continued relationship with her father has led to her creating a love letters program, which provides jails with stationery so prisoners can continue to communicate with their families, mending the relationship between parent and child.

Branch is majoring in integrated marketing communications at the School of Journalism and New Media. She stays involved around campus as a member of the Student Activities Association.

“Asya is an incredible person, and an outstanding representative for not only the University of Mississippi, but the state of Mississippi,” said Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union.

“Whether serving as a member of the Student Activities Association Homecoming committee or starting her own student organization, Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents, Asya possesses all of the skills needed to succeed not only at the Miss America Pageant in September, but in life as well.”

Branch is a gifted speaker and presenter who lights up the screen when she is on camera, said Debora Wenger, associate professor of journalism and assistant dean for innovation and external partnerships at the journalism school.

“With all that, one of the things that impresses me most about Asya is her dedication to improving the lives of children who have parents in jail or in prison,” Wenger said. “She cares deeply about this issue because of her own personal experience and because she is the kind of person who sees possibilities rather than obstacles.”

On campus, Branch always rose to take on whatever obstacle was before her, so her winning the crown comes as no surprise, said Alysia Steele, assistant professor of multiple platform journalism.

“I know I pushed her in class, and she always met the challenge,” Steele said. “Asya has no problem speaking up for things she believes in, so I could always count on her to give her thoughts and opinions about work we were discussing in class.”

She added that through all Branch has accomplished, she remains humble and grounded.

“She has a warm personality that makes it hard to forget her,” Steele said. “I couldn’t be prouder, because I think she represents our university and state with integrity and grace. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Branch continues to stay informed on current events and lead a healthy lifestyle to prepare for the Miss America competition.

“I support this organization and all it stands for,” she said “It gives young women the confidence to be successful and thrive in life.”

She said the competition allows women to form bonds with other competitors while simultaneously learning to be more well-rounded individuals.

“There was so much I gained from competing that I didn’t even know was possible,” she said. “I feel like I can conquer the world.”

The Miss America pageant is set for Sept. 5-9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The final night of the competition will be televised at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Besides Branch, UM journalism alumna Christine Williamson recently was crowned Miss Tennessee and also will compete at Miss America.

“We’re going to just have to hope for an unprecedented tie for the title,” Wenger said. “Either way, you can bet the Meek School’s TVs will be tuned to the Miss America pageant on Sept. 9.”

The story was written by Christina Steube for Ole Miss news.

School of Journalism and New Media launches new IMC online graduate degree program

Posted on: April 24th, 2018 by ldrucker

Interested professionals can earn a graduate degree in integrated marketing communication completely online through the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi starting in August.

This program is designed to give mid-career professionals an opportunity to learn how to use communication to connect people and organizations, without having to uproot their lives to become full-time students on a college campus. It also is opening the school’s programs to students around the world.

The master’s program in integrated marketing communication allows online students to take the same courses as residential students, with the only differences being the flexibility of delivery and the sequence of the courses.

“Demand is high for advanced study in how to integrate communication efforts to influence people’s behavior, but moving to Oxford to complete a graduate degree is quite difficult for people who are working full time and have other obligations,” said Robert Magee, program director and assistant professor of IMC.

Students can complete the 36-credit-hour degree program in two years by taking courses throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters.

“Because the online program is designed for people who are working full time, courses will be offered one at a time in the half-semesters and summer sessions,” Magee said. “This will enable a student to focus energy on each course and advance in a systematic way.”

The curriculum combines theory, insight and real-world application in the areas of audience research, analytics, creative production and brand strategy.

The demand for more education in the constantly changing industry of IMC is national and international, and this is the most effective way for professionals to pursue this degree, said Will Norton, UM journalism dean.

“We have partnerships in other nations with universities and schools that would like their graduates and students to be able to pursue our graduate degree program in integrated marketing communication,” Norton said.

Graduates are prepared for leadership roles in advertising and public relations agencies, corporations, media, nonprofit organizations, health care, political communication and sports.

The university’s IMC program was introduced in 2012 for undergraduate and graduate studies. Ole Miss is one of just a few institutions to offer this type of specialized degree, which has resulted in tremendous increase in student enrollment within the journalism school during the last six years.

Faculty members hope this program will offer unique opportunities for students, no matter where they live.

“People around the world will gain access to the knowledge and skills they need to influence behavior,” Magee said.

The application deadline is July 31. To apply for the program, click here. To learn more about the journalism and IMC programs at Ole Miss, visit https://jnm.olemiss.edu.

By Christina Steube