Tangible, Jesuit Lessons in Marketing

two students assisting at event
Seniors Kainoa Evans and Courtney Pedersen at the Human Rights Spokane annual banquet.

April 08, 2024
Sydney Fluker ('24)

The richest kind of learning happens when students do real-world work with real community partners. Such is the case with the School of Business Administration’s content marketing course taught by Jeff Bunch, Gonzaga alum and adjunct faculty member who is director of communications at the Community Colleges of Spokane.

Bunch formats his course by beginning with the necessary content-related theories and broad skills his students will need before transitioning into hands-on learning for the remainder of the course. Throughout the semester, he brings in guest speakers from local nonprofits – many of which are short-staffed in areas like content creation and marketing – to create symbiotic relationships that help both the students and organizations expand their portfolios.

The first year he taught the course, Bunch connected with Rick Clark (’19), founder of Giving Back Packs to give students a tangible way of applying their content marketing knowledge to an organization that would benefit from it.

Since then, Bunch’s class has helped more than 10 local nonprofits with various aspects of brand marketing they may not otherwise have the bandwidth for.

During most semesters, the course highlighted two or three organizations at once and students created teams dedicated to each one.

two separate photos of guest speakers

(At left: Rick Clark of Giving Back Packs, with Emily Peterson of Page 42 Books. At right: representatives from Feast World Kitchen, Generation Alive and the Bridge Project, all small local nonprofits benefiting from student support.)

In fall 2023, Bunch decided to shift to a focus on one organization for the whole semester and selected partner Human Rights Spokane, which was rebranding with a new name and had multiple needs in marketing.

“It was cool because we were able to do more over the semester and help provide content strategy,” Bunch says. “The board was very open about not being very technologically savvy, so students were able to give recommendations in social media, actually mock up a website for them and really just develop every aspect of content marketing.”

That approach worked well, according to senior Kainoa Evans.

“The class was very unique in that it was the first in my curriculum where I was able to take all the skills I have gained into a real organization with real-life scenarios,” says Evans, a senior public relations major with minors in promotions and entrepreneurial leadership.

Since it's a general elective in the School of Business Administration, business majors of all concentrations take seats in the course. 

Bunch uses this diversity of skill sets to craft teams that allow students to focus on the areas they are interested in, like social media or web strategy.

“In a class of 12 seniors there were three people who knew graphic design and everyone knew something about social media — it was incredible,” Bunch says.

Evans served on the event marketing and partnerships team along with Courtney Pedersen, a senior public relations major with minors in journalism, digital marketing and promotions. The two went the extra mile to volunteer at Human Rights Spokane’s annual award banquet, checking in patrons and creating promotional content on their behalf.

“Getting to be in the community with the groups that make an impact in the community I live in was impactful,” Pedersen says. “Sometimes, going to college, we can forget there’s a whole world outside of campus. Gonzaga is wonderful, but I liked the opportunity to get out there and help.”

Pedersen and Evans used their public relations background to spread the word around campus and in the community. Their team also organized a partnership with Big Table, a local nonprofit serving local food service workers.

“The class integrated a lot of the Jesuit education values with tangible experience and learning marketing,” Pedersen says.

“To be completely honest, I can’t remember the course name, and I probably won’t. But I will remember what I did and who I worked with and what I learned from it all.”

“It’s important for students to succeed in something that may be stretching them while they’re in college so that when they get to that place in their career, they know they’ve pulled through a similar situation as an undergrad,” Bunch says.

The success of the course led to its designation as a permanent offering in the digital marketing concentration and will be offered each fall as MKTG 319. Bunch is already looking for the next cohort of nonprofits to work with.

Learn more about what the School of Business Administration can offer you!