5 Reasons Why Marketing Professionals Should Go Back to Speak on Campus

May 21, 2018

By Elliot Lum

Coca-Cola's Greg Pharo speaks at a university campus as part of the AEF's Campus Speakers Program. Elliot Lum/ANA

Many of us have fond memories of college. We will often make the trip back for reunions. Some of us might even take time to be a guest lecturer in class because we have a deep tie to a particular professor. But why go back to campus beyond just your university affiliation? After being a speaker while also visiting campuses such as Yale, Fordham, and Georgia Tech, I want to share five reasons why you should consider going back to speak on campus as a part of the ANA's Educational Foundation (AEF) Campus Speakers Program. By taking time out of your busy schedule and speaking at a university, you can:

  1. Take a pause from the pace of the industry and appreciate what you do.
    Marketing and advertising is an incredibly fast-paced, exciting industry to be in. However, the breakneck speed of the business doesn't often allow us the opportunity to take a step back and appreciate what we have learned in our careers. A hundred percent of all of the executives who have gone back to campus as part of the AEF's program said it has been a worthwhile experience.
  2. Shape how students and professors think of the marketing and advertising profession.
    An advertising executive recently shared with me that he was challenged by a professor about how ethical the industry is. That challenge is reflective of a 2017 Gallup poll, which found that the advertising industry is one of the lowest-rated in terms of honesty and ethics. This is a chance to change that perception, starting with those who are the most skeptical of the profession.
  3. Have an impact on the career choice of a student.
    Most students aren't exposed to what really goes on in the marketing and advertising industry. What you say and share can have a huge impact on whether a student considers pursuing a career in our space or not.
  4. Gain exposure to the diversity of the classroom.
    Companies often talk about marketing to diverse groups. But talking about it and seeing it for yourself are two different things. Many of these classrooms are made up of diverse students who come from a wide range of backgrounds. Going back to class helps shape how you see diversity through the questions you get from students that you might not otherwise encounter in a regular industry meeting.
  5. Build relationships with professors to strengthen university recruitment ties.
    One of the key corporate benefits of speaking on campus is the potential for strengthening your ties to professors, which in turn helps with identifying the best students. Professors get a chance to see, over a period of time, who the best critical thinkers are based on classroom performance. Having those relationships can help funnel great talent into your organization.

If you are interested in speaking on campus and don't know where to start, please visit the AEF's Campus Speakers Program to arrange a visit.


Elliot Lum is the head of talent acquisition at the ANA Educational Foundation.

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