What started as a savvy class project landed two University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students a trip to South Korea this summer. Rachel Plantenberg and Patrick Johnson won a worldwide social media competition and they'll present their winning project to Samsung Electronics, the Korean Red Cross and Cheil Worldwide, South Korea's largest advertising agency.
"I got a call from Samsung last December asking if I would be interested in doing the project with my classes," said Nam-Hyun Um, assistant professor of communication. "Students could choose to present on social media for corporate communication, non-profit organizations or crisis management."
Um worked as an account executive at Cheil Worldwide prior to becoming a professor and he used his connections there to get UW-Whitewater involved. His students worked in groups to prepare a research paper and PowerPoint on the topic of their choice. The presentations were then sent to Cheil Worldwide where they were evaluated.
For their project, Plantenberg and Johnson evaluated strategies and benefits of using social media for two non-profit organizations - Rock County Humane Society in Janesville and Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.
"Social media is really up and coming right now. At our age we understand social media thoroughly, and nonprofits can always use any extra publicity that doesn't cost anything," Plantenberg said.
"By giving presentations to a high-profile company, Rachel and Patrick will see how what they're learning in class applies to real-world settings. I hope they can learn to explore and extend their horizon of understanding," Um said.
Samsung and Cheil are partnering with only 10 universities and 438 students worldwide. Um said the trip to South Korea is a fantastic networking opportunity. The students will visit Samsung Headquarters, a contemporary art museum and the Korean Broadcasting Advertising Corporation. They will tour the Kyungbok Palace, Seoul City and several villages.
Johnson said he is excited to experience the corporate culture, while Plantenberg said she wants to try all the food.
"I want to try sushi. We're going to be doing business but I also want to experience their culture. Neither of us has been abroad, and I want to feel like we succeeded when we come back," Plantenberg said.
The students will travel to South Korea on Sunday, July 1, and will return on Saturday, July 7. The trip is funded by Samsung, Cheil Worldwide and the UW-Whitewater Communication Department.