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Verizon teams up with marketing students

Tampa, FL (December 10, 2012) — Looking to a target market for fresh ideas, Verizon FiOS turned to USF students for inspiration.

Students discuss strategy with Verizon reps

As part of a project for their marketing management problems class, marketing seniors were tasked with raising awareness about the special promotions that Verizon offers to USF students and employees. And, as in a real marketing campaign, they were given a budget to run the campaigns.

Verizon gave each team in the class $1,000 to implement their campaigns for the fall semester -- $12,000 total. At the end of the semester, local Verizon executives, along with the professor teaching the course, judged the students' presentations in a weeklong process.

Robert Pecoraro, the course instructor, said working with Verizon is a mutually beneficial activity, allowing Verizon to see who the best and brightest marketing students are and giving students the chance to learn the challenges that come with creating a marketing campaign and the challenges that implementation sometimes presents.

"This opens a new opportunity for the college, students and corporations," Pecoraro said, when asked why he structured the course around this challenge. "It gives students the chance to become entrenched in real business problem solving prior to actually having to work for a living and gives them the chance to think creatively, instead of writing plans with cookie cutter ideas and jargon. It teaches them to solve the problem, not just recognize that it's there."

An example of the kind of creative thinking that students displayed: two groups made philanthropy part of their campaigns, using their $1,000 allocation to offer scholarship money to student organizations that generated the most interest and participation.

Winning team gets reward

The two groups that had worked with student organizations to generate interest awarded checks to the groups that had collected the most surveys. One of the student organization winners, Prestige Modeling Troupe, said it would use the money toward a benefit fashion show it was hosting; another, the National Council for Negro Women, planned to use the money to host an end-of-the-year banquet for high school students they mentored.

Rodobaldo Gonzalez, a Verizon senior marketing consultant for the Florida region, said he and his colleagues were impressed by the ideas they saw. He and local Verizon Marketing Manager Christian Greer judged the student presentations.

"You can see the students are trained very well to dive into something like this," Gonzalez said. "What we saw this week is the realization of what I and my teammates envisioned this competition to be, and the students exceeded of our expectations, in professionalism, the ideas they presented, and even the implementation."

The campaign was an opportunity to build the Verizon brand and image on campus among students, said one of the student teams competing.

"This is a chance for Verizon to create a story," marketing student Chad Masters told the judging panel.

Stephanie Howard, a senior in the course, said it was valuable to get an outside perspective from business professionals.

"I thought it was good to have a real-world project and budget to work with as opposed to hypotheticals," she said. "If you're doing something hypothetically, it's always going to work out the way it should, whereas in reality you will face problems."