Communication students consult with local businesses

org com
May 07, 2013

By the time professor Robert Lemieux’s Organizational Communication students finished presenting their consulting reports to representatives of Gunner’s Grille of Taneytown, Md., and The Arc of Carroll County, new ideas and partnerships were already underway.

“It is great to have a fresh set of eyes on the organization, and I thought their recommendations were spot on,” said Don Rowe, executive director of The Arc, who was already planning collaboration with Gunner’s Grille owner Brooke Hagerty.

The two businesses were among four – also including Brightview Westminster Ridge and Montessori School of Westminster – selected by Lemieux, a Communication professor, for his students to consult with on their internal and external communication practices. The consultation project was a collaboration with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce as a result of Lemieux’s meeting with Chamber president Mike McMullin. Lemieux notes that the Chamber is interested in continuing the collaboration in the future.

Lemieux designed the class so that the student consultants understand the development and application of theory to organizational communication problems and increase their understanding of research methods used to evaluate organizations and their communication practices.

The students conducted on-site field studies and prepared written and oral presentations of their findings.

Senior Jordan Scott, a Communication major from Moorestown, N.J., partnered with Théodora DeBrouwer, an international student from Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis in Brussels, Belgium, to examine internal and external communications at Gunner’s Grille and make recommendations for expansion of the business.

“Thank you for this opportunity,” Scott said. “This let us see how businesses are run out there in the real world.”

Scott and DeBrouwer applied the Communication principles and research skills they learned in class to develop recommendations to improve business at the 2-year-old restaurant, which is doing well at a location that has seen eight restaurants in the 15 years since a 25-year-old restaurant closed at the site.

Using metaphors, students described aspects of each business as Brain, Culture, Family, Organism, and more.

“Brooke Hagerty is the brain,” Scott said of the enthusiastic owner who says, “This is my dream job.”

The duo recommended partnerships with other businesses – and in fact, that conversation had already begun with Arc director Don Rowe before the two leaders left the classroom. Other recommendations included collaboration with visitors to Gettysburg or nearby golf courses offering a free beverage to golfers who scored a birdie or hole in one, reciprocal promotions on websites and increasing visibility through posting maps and travel time on the website.

The team of senior Ashley Hopkins of Baltimore and juniors Laura Dudley of Olney, Md., and John Kelly of West Chester, Pa., had equally innovative recommendations to increase the visibility of The Arc, calling its 350 employees passionate about helping Arc’s clients and also in need of company email addresses. Suggesting Arc management place the logo on its 37 buses, sponsor local community events and utilize the blackboard at Harry’s restaurant on Westminster’s Main Street, the team also recommended aesthetic improvements to its existing building on Krider’s Church Road in Westminster and a celebration of the plans for a new building.

They even came up with the name, “Blueprint Renovation Party,” which prompted their professor’s approval.

“Now I would go to something called ‘Blueprint Renovation Party,’” Lemieux said.

The class reconvenes on May 8, for presentations of Brightview Westminster Ridge and Montessori School of Westminster.