Schooling the professionals

Management communication student Hamilton Beard explains his group's billboard during a presentation before representatives of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.

Management communication student Hamilton Beard explains his group’s billboard during a presentation before representatives of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.

During the May 2016 NFL owners’ meeting, votes were cast for the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowl host cities. When that happened, students in one class at the A. B. Freeman School of Business were paying close attention.

As part of the final assignment for Management Communication, a course taught by professor of practice Ashley Keller Nelson, students worked
in groups to form full communications plans for one of four finalist cities including Atlanta, Miami, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Students were asked to create a plan as if their assigned city was awarded the Super Bowl.

On the final day of the course, when the New Orleans groups were presenting, employees of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation visited the class to soak up — and critique — the proposed plans. If the NFL owners were to select New Orleans as the host city, the foundation would have the same task as the students in creating a communications plan. Among the slogans the students presented were “Don’t Stand on the Sideline,” “Big Game, Big Easy,” and “A New Year, New Teams, New Orleans.”

“To be successful, one must analyze the stakeholders in order to understand who they are, what they need to know, and what is the best medium to use to reach the audience,” says Nelson. “In the end, students learned how to write a research paper, work in a team and how to give a professional team presentation in a much more engaged way than they would have otherwise.”

Attending the class from the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation were Jeff Rossi, director of event sales, and Paul Utterback, communications manager. “Our staff works directly with the mayor’s office on things like public safety, permits and the 20,000 hotel rooms required to be available,” Rossi says. “These presentations are impressive. We’ll probably steal some of those billboard ideas for sure.”

While New Orleans’ pitch for the Super Bowl ultimately wasn’t successful, Utterback says the city’s reputation as a host remains among the best in the league, so the ideas presented by the students may still end up on a billboard one day.

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