How to make the most of a college job


With the cost of college education these days, it’s almost impossible to get through your time in school without some type of low paying menial job. I was not assigned a work study job but in December of my freshman year managed to get myself hired as a lifeguard at the campus Recreation Center. For a multitude of reasons I can say getting myself that job was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The first thing this job taught me was the value of and hard work and the benefits that come with it. My first semester working the only shift I could get was lifeguarding on Fridays at 6:30 am. I didn’t have classes on Fridays so this was a rough lesson for me in making a commitment and sticking to it. Picking shifts at the Bell Center is based upon seniority and a points system that rewards you for picking up sub shifts. I knew I did not want to get stuck with that crappy shift again so I worked my butt off to get my freshman-self up higher on the priority list for the following semester. I’ve continued to do that every semester and in the 3 years I’ve been there I have applied for and gotten to the highest management positon (Complex Manager) and in the number three position on the priority list for the entire 100+ person staff. As a complex manager I am responsible for a staff of up to 7 on duty recreation monitors and the $40 million Bell and Knapp Centers. In this position I also have had the unique opportunities of evaluating my employees and conducting interviews when hiring new employees both of which are rare opportunities for an on campus college job.

Second, I gained valuable contacts and learned more about workplace culture than I could ever have hoped to. My direct supervisors have come to be my most trusted advisors when it comes to things professionally related. Because I have proven myself to the organization by working so hard there my entire college career they trust me and my opinions. For instance, if they enacted a new policy that I didn’t agree with we could at least have a dialogue about it and I know my thoughts would be heard and taken into account. The Drake athletic director’s office is in the building where I work and after being around for four years now, she and I are on a first name basis. I’m confident that if I need help finding a job after I graduate I can waltz into her office and she’ll help me out to the best of her ability.


Lastly, the cherry on top of me working at the Bell Center: I met my best friends. There’s a group of seven of us, all current Bell Center staff or alums whom I consider to be my best friends. I think it’s pretty amazing that we all became as close as we have because only one manager is on duty at a time so it’s not like we were “working together” all the time. Luckily the ones who have graduated have stayed in town and we make it a point to get together every couple weeks. I am so thankful to have had this job if only because I met these girls who have become so dear to me and have become my lifelong friends.

If you take away anything from this blog take this: make the best of whatever working situation you are in. Many work study and on campus jobs are incredibly boring and feel like a waste of time. I’m here to tell you that they’re not. Yes, lifeguarding at 6:30am on Friday mornings sucked but I got really good at singing along to the radio and critiquing people’s strokes. Stick out the boring job, making the most of it for a year and then apply for a management position. If you’re in a crappy job that has no opportunity for upward mobility then find a new job that allows you to at least apply for a management position with more responsibility. Don’t just come to work and then leave. Invest in your workplace and the people there – both the students and the professional staff members. Who knows, you could create for yourself a permanent position upon graduation. I have one semester left as a Drake Student worker and I will continue to be bettering myself and my workplace all the way to the end.

Black Thu…Friday


Black “Friday” comes earlier and earlier every year. A few years ago stores started opening at midnight, last year many opened at 10pm on Thanksgiving and now this year some stores are going to be open all day on Thanksgiving! This is an alarming trend that we as marketers need to stop perpetuating.

Thanksgiving is a day for families to come together and give thanks for one another. Because it is not a religious holiday, Thanksgiving is often the only holiday that some families get to spend together. I think that if retailers continue to take away the sanctity of Thanksgiving, consumers (not to mention employees) will soon become resentful and in the worst case scenario become disloyal and begin to shop at retailers who support the same Thanksgiving ideals they do instead of shopping at whichever retailer has the best deals.

One company that will not be opening their doors on Thursday is Costco. Their reason being: “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that”.  The move has endeared customers to Costco with people like Dave Letterman saying that Costco will be his next job. These retailers are taking a similar approach:


Burlington Coat Factory





T.J. Maxx

Home Depot




The reason that the brick-and-mortar stores are opening earlier and earlier every year is to keep up with the online retailers. Best Buy began putting technology gifts on sale Nov. 20 and Walmart started offering free shipping on the season’s hot gifts as of Nov. 1. I propose that we either need to respect the Thanksgiving Holiday and go back to making Black Friday be a big deal ON Black Friday or we need to get rid of Black Friday and its sense of occasion altogether. I think we are going the way of the latter: according to a recent study by Accenture, 19 percent of Americans report that they’ve already spent between $100 and $500 on holiday shopping—having started as early as September—and 18 percent of consumers now believe the best holiday deals happen before Thanksgiving. I fall into this category – I purchased my Dad’s present back in October. Based upon Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year, it will be very interesting to see what retailers decide to do next year – If they switch over to a whole Thanksgiving week of deals or hit Black Friday harder than this year.

Are you #TeamBlackFriday or #TeamShopOnTurkeyDay?

Vikings PR Disaster

blg 31 vikings giantsIf there was ever a bad time to be indicted on abuse charges it was September 12, 2014. Adrian Peterson was indicted for reckless/negligent injury to a child in Montgomery County Texas. Peterson’s charges came just days after the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident became public knowledge and ignited the fury of fans across the nation.

The Vikings handled this situation in the most disastrous way possible and created awful public relations for themselves in the process. Here’s the timeline:

  • Friday, September 12th The Vikings initially deactivated Peterson for that week’s game (Sunday, September 14th)
  • Monday, September 15th Peterson is reinstated for the following week’s game (Sunday, September 21st)
  • Monday, September 15th Six hours after Peterson’s reinstatement Radisson hotels issued a statement that it was suspending its sponsorship of the Vikings
  • Tuesday, September 16th Minnesota’s governor issued a statement scolding the Vikings for not suspending Peterson indefinitely
  • Wednesday, September 16th the Vikings finally deactivated Peterson and removed him from all team activities pending the outcome of the trial
  • Wednesday, September 16th Nike and Castrol suspend their sponsorships with Peterson

It was a good first step to initially suspend Peterson but because this Peterson controversy came on the heels of the Ray Rice Incident the Vikings should have gone the safe route and suspended Peterson indefinitely right off the bat. As soon as they reinstated him for the [huge] game against New Orleans the next  week the fans saw it almost an as endorsement of Peterson’s  behavior and  the Vikings basically saying they didn’t care what their superstar players did off the field because they were so integral to the Vikings winning games.

As can be seen by the fact that the Vikings leadership didn’t even address the media until six days after the indictment, their strategy was to pay no attention to the controversy and instead focus solely on winning the next week’s game. By not immediately addressing the situation, the Vikings gave up their chance to be in control of the situation and be on top of the media firestorm. They opened themselves up to things like being reprimanded by the governor.

Press conference before Radisson sponsorship removal

Press conference before Radisson sponsorship removal

Press conference day of sponsorship removal

Press conference day of sponsorship removal

Right now public opinion of the Vikings is very low and their public relations team has a lot of work to do to get the fans back on their side. This morning the NFL announced the Peterson is suspended for “at least” the remainder of the 2014 season. The Vikings should make some sort of statement today acknowledging the NFL’s punishment. Then they should move on and never talk about it again.

I recommend that once the suspension is over the Vikings slowly re-introduce Adrian Peterson to the media by highlighting all of the good for the community he did during his time off (Good that they told him he should do…). They should also have him focus on how excited he is for the new season and how hard he has been working in the off season to get ready to play. It will take time but I think that if the Vikings PR team can avoid any more mistakes like this one the fans will eventually welcome back AP.

Taco Bell goes Black

emily_gutknecht_marketing Facebook TBell

Last week as part of the launch of its new app, Taco Bell blacked out its social- media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even its website. The only thing these sites had posted was the link to download the app. With the release of this app Taco Bell is the first fast-food chain to offer mobile payment and ordering in the restaurants and in drive-thrus. Users can also select specific ingredients for their food in a way they previously weren’t able to, according to a statement. As of now these social media pages are all still blacked out. The blackout clearly worked because Taco Bell announced that just 24 hours after launch 75 percent of all stores already had processed a mobile order.

This stunt was well done by Taco Bell. As a huge company with a multi-faceted social media presence and millions of followers, something like this was sure to be noticed. The day after the blackout Taco Bell began using sponsored tweets to push people towards their blacked out sites (which is a little deceptive since their point was to not be on social media and instead be on the app, but I rest my case). I think if it were a smaller company nobody would have cared because they wouldn’t have even noticed. I especially like what they did with their Instagram – the announcement took up nine picture slots and they took a little over a day to put it all together, slowly adding one picture at a time so people could piece together the message.


Now that Taco Bell has people’s attention, it’s important to pay attention to what they will do next. People are watching their pages with bated breath waiting to see what will happen so if Taco Bell continues with the blackout it will be a wasted opportunity for them. I do not think it’s a very effective long term strategy to keep everything black because social media is an ever evolving platform and that is constantly growing and Taco Bell needs to keep up with that. They’re pushing it a little bit by leaving the accounts blacked out for six days now because those followers who have not downloaded the app will soon get bored with Taco Bell’s lack of activity on social media.

Now taking bets on when Taco Bell will come back to social media.

Dos and Don’ts of Political Ads

It’s that time of year again: political take over. If your Facebook, Twitter, radio, and TV are not swamped with political ads then I want to move to wherever you live because here in the heart of Iowa it’s becoming unbearable. Personally, I hate the negative ads and think that they are highly ineffective. Here in Iowa, the strategy of the two candidates running for senate, Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst, has been running ads showing video clips of each other saying damning things [out of context, I might add]. I think these ads are so ineffective because all they do is put down the other candidate, and in most cases are not even fully truthful – In Minnesota a few years ago one candidate for governor ran an ad saying that other candidate was a goat. That being said, not all positive ads are effective either. The purpose of ads should be to showcase the candidate’s platform in an effort to convince constituents to vote for them, not to wage war on the opposition and say nothing about you. From a marketing/PR perspective, candidates should use ads to build their character and credibility with the voters as well as position themselves in a good light.

The following ad is one that I think is awful and I don’t understand why the candidate’s campaign team thought it was a good idea to run it.

The first thing I notice about this ad is that there are no black kids on the football team – only white presumably middle class, Scandinavian Minnesotans. Minnesotan’s like to think of themselves as being diverse, worldly, and welcoming and do not take kindly to the fact that the football team has no diversity. The make-up of this football team shows that McFadden’s campaign team does not know who their audience is and how they should be appealing to them. The ad also shows McFadden saying “Let’s get out there and hit somebody!” and then shows him getting hit by one of boys near his waist. First of all, this statement promotes the violence of football which is a very hot button issue right now with all the worry over concussions. He should be telling his team to get out there and score some touchdowns or move the ball, not hit people. Finally, when he gets hit in the gut it portrays himself as being weak and unable to control those kids. As someone who is running against an incumbent he needs the voters to see him as anything but weak. I think this ad has the correct idea in that McFadden wants constituents to see him as a family man who can get things done but it is executed horribly and does not appeal to the audience of middle class Minnesotan’s that it is trying to reach.

The following ad is one of the best that I have seen this year.

This ad is definitely my favorite of the year and I love because it’s not preachy about Mowrer’s platform nor is it attacking the opposition. I love the line “When you’re in a war zone there’s no such thing as republicans and democrats, just Americans”. American politics are so polarized today and this line gets right to the point and says that the candidate is willing to reach across the aisle because we are all Americans and we all need to work together in the Senate. By showing video footage on farms, Mowrer is appealing to the small percentage of voters that will decide the election – Iowa farmers. This ad is a great PR building piece because farmers generally vote republican and with this ad Mowrer is trying to use a slice of life appeal to reach them and gain their support.

What’s your favorite/most hated political ad this year?

Birthday Blunders

Being the poor college student and marketer that I am, I love loyalty programs. For any company that I visit on a regular basis, I most likely have some type of loyalty card for them. In terms of just coffee shops I’m signed up for three! My birthday is this month so I am very much looking forward to getting free stuff from all of my loyalty programs. Beginning first on September 30th from Noodles and Company, and October 1st and 12:01 from Drake, I started receiving my birthday offers. Unfortunately, my birthday is not until the 13th. These companies were sending me things nearly two weeks before they should have been. This lack of attention to detail is due to laziness.

Emily_Gutknecht_Marketing                                These companies have all of their loyalty members in a database and they probably just hit a button on the first of each month to send a birthday promotion to everyone who has a birthday that month. All they would have to do to be more accurate and therefore more credible to the people whose birthday is not on the first of the month is some database management. Even sending a birthday promotion at the beginning of each week would be better than just the first of the month – a task perfect for an intern. It’s disappointing that companies can’t be more detail oriented in an effort to improve and retain their relationship with their most loyal customers.

Unlike the companies that have been sending me my birthday promotions, when used correctly, these programs can be very adept at building long-term customer loyalty. For instance, even though the program is not very advantageous for the consumer, (buy 12 drinks, get one free) The Starbucks program is one of the best in my mind. All a consumer has to do to join is register a gift card. With this registration they get a free drink on their birthday, free black coffee when they stay in the store, random emails with promotions, and a free drink for every 12 they purchase. When a consumer purchases a certain amount of drinks in a year, Starbucks sends them a personalized Gold Card. This card comes with extra perks in addition to the ones listed above. As a consumer, the Gold Card is a really cool thing to have it’s shiny, has your name on it, and is a status symbol so that everyone knows you drink a lot of STARBUCKS coffee. From a marketing perspective, the Gold Card is a gold mine for Starbucks. Members load money onto their card which they then use to purchase Starbucks products, so Starbucks knows everything about their best customer’s buying habits – what they buy, how often they buy it, even the time of day of purchases. They can use this information to create custom direct marketing offers for specific types of consumers.

Emily_Gutknecht_Marketing Have you ever experienced a well-intended but poorly executed promotion?

Farewell Captain

This weekend, the baseball world said goodbye to a player that will one day surely be elevated to legend status like his predecessors, Lou Gehrig and The Babe. Derek Jeter announced his plans for retirement at the beginning of this season and advertisers have been capitalizing on it ever since. Jeter’s biggest sponsors, Nike and Gatorade have ran brilliant marketing  campaigns all summer that center around Jeter’s retirement and also manage to masterfully promote their brand as well.

After their “Re2pect” ad debuted in July which now has over 8 million views and an overwhelming number of positive reactions, Nike trademarked the phrase  for use in connection with headwear, hats, caps, shirts and t-shirts. The trademarking paid off. In less than 24 hours after Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium last week the hashtag “#Re2pect” was trending on Facebook and Twitter. The jitter to purchase Jeter items on Nike’s website led to “RE2PECT” hats being sold out within minutes after Jeter won the game for the New York Yankees in walk-off fashion. This RE2PECT campaign is important for not only Jeter but is probably even more important for Nike who also sponsors Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.  Peterson remains with Nike, but the business relationship has been suspended while allegations of child abuse are further investigated.  Nike completely terminated its relationship with Rice. Instead of Rice, people are now talking about Jeter and RE2PECT.

The best tributes to The Captain this season have captured the style, grace and connection to the city for which Jeter is known. Last week Gatorade hit the nail on the head when they released a sentimental black and white ad paying tribute to Jeter.  Since the campaign’s launch last Thursday, the ad has gone viral and been viewed more than five million times.  While this ad is not meant to drive sales in the way the Nike RE2PECT campaign is, it gave baseball fans everywhere goose bumps and was a fitting end for one of the best players of all time.

As a Twins fan I grew up hating Derek Jeter and the Yankees. It wasn’t until much more recently that I realized he is not only one of the best players of all time but one of the classiest as well. Unlike many of the steroid users on the Yankees roster, Jeter has never gotten mixed up in that mess and that is something I greatly respect. He’s been a consistent, dominating player for the last 20 years. Farewell Captain, you will be missed.

Budweiser’s genius strategy

Budweiser loves to toy with consumer’s emotions – their Super bowl Clydesdale ads are consistently the top trending ads of the evening. This is probably one of the reasons that they have firmly integrated themselves into American culture. When Americans think of beer they think of Budweiser.  In addition to being another feather in Budweiser’s awesome ads cap, this new ad is also a powerful PSA that builds Budweiser’s credibility.

This ad which was rolled out last Friday for Global Be(er) Responsible Day already has over 6 million views. It shows man’s best friend pining for his master’s return after he leaves one night to go drinking with friends. We’ve all seen the shockingly scary ads where someone drinks and drives and kills innocent children or families. I really like this ad because it softens that concept a little bit and shows someone else that will suffer if we drink and drive.

I recently saw an ad from another liquor company touting tolerance and responsibility while drinking. Alcohol companies exist to sell liquor, and lots of it. I think it’s a very good marketing strategy and very strong PR tactic that companies like Budweiser are telling consumers to have a good time but to also be responsible and drink LESS.


I’m setting this blog up for my Internet Marketing class at Drake University, so cut me some slack because this is my first foray into blogging. With that being said, I do plan on updating this blog regularly with my thoughts on…pretty much everything! I will try to focus on marketing/pr related things, but as a political junkie and lover of all things Minnesota, it might get side tracked.

First blog post coming this week so stay tuned!