By: Ema Kulenovic, Nick Henkel, Josh Steinbeck

Message Design 1, SCC 200, is a required course for the Strategic and Corporate Communication program in the School of Communication. This course introduces students to the basic principles of creating effective message campaigns, the initial stages of planning and designing message campaigns, as well as effective persuasion. These are critical things for SCC majors to know and understand in order to excel in a workplace environment. From learning about message framing and emotional appeals, to spreadability and sequential strategies (like foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face), students learn how to persuade potential clients and/or peers while building effective message campaigns. This class prepares you with common vocabulary and knowledge that connects all the material.

Every student is encouraged to participate in a class-wide campaign throughout the course. In past years, this has had potential to make a mark on the entirety of the Chapman University population. Every semester, students come together and take what they learned in the course to create the next big campaign. This campaign experience enables SCC majors to apply the knowledge learned from these campaigns to their internships later on. For example, students are able to take away competencies such as conducting background research, finding general target audiences, creating a SWOT analysis, and using different communication channels to properly disseminate their message, both in class and in the workplace.

SCC senior Nick Henkel says that “learning the importance of pretesting messages helped [him] in [his] campaign for HIV Awareness through [his] internship,” something that he probably would not have understood had he not taken Message Design 1.  Ema Kulenovic, says that “knowing the difference between interpersonal and mediated communication channels, and how to effectively write messages for each one, greatly benefited [her] with the Bird is the Word video created during [her] internship.” Working for a global multimedia company, Ema needed to create a Youtube video with her intern team that portrayed some sort of purpose, encouraging their target audience to go out and find their purpose. Similarly, Josh Steinbeck focused on the human purpose in large corporate companies, while working for 1-800-GOTJUNK, by creating a campaign in personifying employees. 

Student Interns gathering for informational meeting concerning “Bird is the Word” project at Studio71.

What makes Message Design 1 unique is that it prepares students for multi-dimensional jobs, such as marketing, product/project development, and consulting. It does this by teaching critical thinking and doing hands-on projects. The course material remains relevant with students throughout their time at Chapman as Strategic and Corporate Communication major as well in their lifetime in the workplace.