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Wintec students launch virtual agency and it's free for businesses

Abby Dalgety, Guest Post. 20 April 2020, 5:45 am
Wintec students launch virtual agency and it's free for businesses

There's a saying that something great can come out of a crisis and for Waikato businesses looking for a post-COVID-19 lockdown boost, the "good" could be free communication and marketing services.

Abby Dalgety teaches digital marketing at Wintec School of Media Arts. With Wintec remaining open during the lockdown and delivering education online, Dalgety and her teaching colleagues were challenged to deliver education in different ways.

They also encountered other challenges; the lockdown meant their physical community of learning suddenly disappeared altogether.  

"Our Communication degree includes a substantial work-based component to give students real-world learning.  Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the industry partners we usually work with have all had to cancel. Some have closed and others are working from home or at a reduced capacity," she says.

With an agency background she is well aware that during a downturn, paid public relations and marketing take a hit.

So she came up with a solution for her third-year Communication students who would normally be working on client assignments for their 'own' agency during the next term, which starts after the Easter break.

"Our students will be providing help to businesses that need it due to COVID-19. We know that marketing, advertising and public relations are usually the things that companies cull in a crisis, so here's an opportunity for businesses to get some fresh thinking for free, while helping students get some work experience at the same time."

Working online during the lockdown is second nature to Wintec communication and journalism students who are honing their skills for careers in the online space.

For some time now, journalism students have published their work to Waikato Independent, an online news hub.

Story topics vary but there's a common thread right now on life challenges with stories covering The Waikato Queer Youth group (WaQuY), mental health and being a blind musician.

In contrast, Wintec journalism students have started a public blog, Waikato Now , a window into student life at home during the lockdown.

Through this blog they are sharing their isolation diaries that they're publishing to keep in touch as a class. It's an interesting and not unfamiliar revelation where joy is found in the small things, like treats after shopping day and for some, routines are kicking in and helping them get through this time.

Group Director, School of Media Arts, Sam Cunnane says that when Wintec redeveloped its Communication degree and relaunched it in 2018, the need to respond to change and future-focus teaching was a top priority.

"Not so long ago we were talking about preparing students for a rapidly changing workplace. The past few weeks have seen more change for students and staff than we could ever have anticipated, and they are responding with innovation and enthusiasm.

This period is going to have a great influence on how we teach, learn and interact with our community. It's been a pretty intense time, but we've just fast-tracked some extraordinary change and have opened up some great opportunities."

In the first week of teaching and learning online during the lockdown, Wintec staff and students spent the equivalent of 1,020,307 minutes or 708 days participating in 2,720 Zoom meetings involving 38,000 participants.

Waikato businesses, who'd like to know more about working with Wintec's virtual agency, can email [email protected].


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