As a continuation of our higher education series on our blog, our next interviewee is Professor Paige Beal of the Rowland School of Business at Point Park University.
Professor Beal has extensive experience in the media marketing industry working for iHeart, Cox Media, and Comcast. She has also worked closely with numerous nonprofit organizations that have in turn led her to her higher education career at Point Park University.
In our interview, Professor Beal discusses how she discovered her passion for this profession and offers us incredible insights into the digital marketing industry and where it is heading.
Check out our Q&A below!
1. How long have you been teaching marketing? What made you want to pursue it?
My teaching career started on the job as a trainer for radio, TV, and internet companies. Helping employees improve their skills gave me a profound sense of worth – so much so that I immersed myself in professional development (shout out to Achieve Global) to hone my training skills.
I honestly had never considered a career in higher ed until a friend and peer reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in adjunct teaching an advertising course for the Point Park University MBA program. My training background translated well to academia and after several adjunct experiences including University of Pittsburgh Executive Education, La Roche University, and Point Park University, I accepted a full-time post at Point Park. Teaching is very fulfilling, and it comes with the benefit of requiring me to keep up to date on the myriad of marketing innovation propelled by technology.
2. What is your favorite course to teach and why?
I don’t have one favorite course. Each has its unique benefits. The introductory marketing course is fun because students discover an entire career path that they previously didn’t know existed. At the same time, they learn via a hands-on approach how to communicate and present to real clients.
I have also loved teaching advertising, social media, digital marketing and marketing research, each for the delight of discovery students display as well as the ability to see them thrive with their new knowledge.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourself (education background, any other relevant work experience). What types of organizations are you involved in?
I am a practitioner academic in that I remain closely connected to my media/marketing profession and strive to connect students to the reality of professional life. My media experience includes radio, TV, and internet with corporations including iHeart (formerly Clear Channel), Cox Media and Comcast as well as family owned media. Starting on air in radio, my career moved into business management and includes ownership, general management and management in programming and sales.
As is often the case with many people I speak with, I didn’t go to school specifically for my profession. My undergrad is in Psychology and Sociology. During school I took a job on air at a small, family-owned country radio station and when I graduated stayed with that family as they purchased additional radio stations. I earned my MBA late in my career with the intention of earning credentials to help break the glass ceiling women in media encounter.
Trade and nonprofit organizations have always been a big part of my career. I was president of the Media Association of Pittsburgh (MAP) where I met so many wonderful peers from all types of media. As VP of Higher Ed with the American Marketing Association Pittsburgh chapter I worked with other academics to create and implement the Collegiate Marketing Plan Competition in its sixth year.
Currently a board member of Doors Open Pittsburgh, I have consistently made it a goal to always have a nonprofit commitment. Giving back to the community – professionally and personally – is important.
4. What do you consider to be the most important and/or interesting aspect about the current state of marketing?
There is never a dull moment in marketing, which continues to grapple with the impact of each technological advance. Media fragmentation is overwhelming and requires every marketer to be a lifelong learner. This continuous need for knowledge presents challenges for all generations of marketers. It requires constant change by all. It’s a dizzying endeavor made a little more manageable via online tools and credentialing such as LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) and efforts on the part of trade groups such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the platforms (Facebook, Google, etc.) themselves. Still, a current marketer needs significant time to keep on top of the most recent innovations.
Aside from the need to continually learn, the dominance of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon is another critical issue in marketing. From personal information security to transparent third-party measurement and overall impact on society, there’s a lot going on that bears scrutiny.
5. What types of research do you do as part of your role? How do you incorporate it into your coursework?
Each class I teach incorporates marketing research, both primary and secondary. From the basics of how to build, validate and report to more custom research for the class client, knowing marketing research is an important baseline asset for any future marketer.
The amount of data available via digital requires students to have a good understanding of what to look at and how to prioritize actionable analysis. Specifically, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Nielsen Prizm, and survey tools (Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, etc.) are all part of students’ experience in marketing courses.
6. Where do you feel the future of marketing, particularly digital, is heading?
We’ve moved from digital being all the rage to data being the holy grail. However, the question of appropriateness in personal security is under scrutiny and is still unresolved in the U.S. Who owns the data: the consumer or the marketer? Stay tuned for what will be deemed appropriate versus not.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow for a more personalized experience and as such appear to be the current darling of marketing. Beyond that and the obvious adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality, it’s all conjecture! Totally up for grabs!
7. With digital marketing changing at such a rapid pace, how do you see marketing being taught differently in the future?
Teaching is already moving from a “stand and lecture” perspective to an experiential classroom where the student spends hands-on time implementing learnings. Higher ed needs to deliver career-ready students who have already gained experience in necessary marketing skills. This looks like expertise with common marketing dashboards, building and implementing surveys, content development and integration into social media platforms, data analytics and more.
Stronger partnerships between the marketing profession and university faculty and students allow for student exposure to proprietary platforms like Salesforce, Sprout, and more. Students no longer have the luxury of spending four years in a lecture – they need to graduate having spent four years interacting with their profession, building networks, and getting hands-on marketing experience.
8. What advice would you give to young marketing professionals?
As you enter your university, from day one step into your chosen profession. Contact the business and ask for a mentor or a shadowing opportunity. It might take some perseverance on your part, but it’s a huge payoff in seeing what it’s like to work at that business and in developing your network.
Do at least one internship. Take summer work or a part-time job in a related profession’s business. Being in that business either confirms your choice, or points you in another direction. The only way you can determine what work you want to do is to sample it. And if you find you don’t like it, you still have time to adjust your college curriculum choices to accommodate a degree in something you do like.
Do not wait for four years of education to be over before implementing your career path. Use your four years of undergrad to interact with the businesses you want to work with.