APSU Marketing, Graphic Design Collaboration Provides Nonprofit Organizations with Marketing Campaigns

Clarksville, TN – Marketing and graphic design students at Austin Peay State University (APSU) experienced a small cross-disciplinary collaboration, similar to working in a real-world agency, last semester through an innovative collaboration between APSU College of Business and the APSU Department of Art + Design.

Rachel Bush, Associate Professor of Art + Design, and Dr. Terry Damron, Assistant Professor of APSU Marketing, partnered last fall to offer the service-learning course to students in their respective disciplines.

Serving nonprofit clients YaiPak, Make Nashville, and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts & Heritage Development Council, Damron’s three marketing teams conducted the interviews and research necessary to develop creative briefs for Bush’s creative teams. Two creative teams developed a campaign for each client, leaving the client with the difficult task of choosing a single campaign to adopt.

The idea for the collaboration developed when Bush, reflecting on her experience as a practitioner, observed a learning gap between marketing strategy and graphic design. She wanted to better prepare students for real-life scenarios by creating an environment that combined strategy and creativity. She decided to contact APSU’s marketing department to assess interest in a possible collaboration.

“I wanted to be part of what I thought was the best fit for our students,” Bush said. “Placing them in an environment that closely mimicked a real-world scenario with a real-world client gave them a chance to think outside the box, be ambitious without fear of failure, and prepared them for the partnerships they will encounter. after graduation.”

The students were organized into groups, one marketing team for two design teams, and given a nonprofit client to start building their campaigns. The marketing teams started with research, scheduled time with the client, and developed a creative brief which the client then approved.

“Learning from experience has been more rewarding than I expected,” said Austin Peay State University marketing student Dulce DelaRosa. “This project taught me more than any other marketing course I’ve taken. Not only was I able to apply what I was learning to a real situation, but I gained more confidence to take decisions and execute them with my team. This experience has taught me how to behave and speak like a professional in person and on paper. I know the benefits of receiving feedback, the importance of networking, and understanding the culture of the It’s something I will continue to use in my current job.

Once the creative brief was completed, the marketing teams articulated the client problem, objective, main message and communication recommendations to their creative teams to help bring the strategy to life.

“For the College of Business, this fulfills our mission,” Damron said. “We are a teaching-focused institution, so we know that high-impact practices like this are the best way to provide meaningful experiences for our students. The other portion serves our communities of Nashville and Clarksville. We want this community integration. So when I looked, this offer fit perfectly with what we identified as our college’s mission.


The work of the students throughout the semester culminated in a final presentation of the campaigns.

“They did an exceptional job that went beyond what we could have asked for or imagined,” said Sherry Nicholson, Founder and CEO of YaiPak. “They were very professional and very careful to make sure they represented our wishes with excellence. The whole experience was a joy!”

It was evident that Bush and Damron were proud of the work their students did and pleasantly surprised at the added benefits that helped the students further their professional development. They plan to continue to seek out opportunities like this to bring to the APSU campus.

Clifton L. Boyd