JU class campaigns for local clothing brand


Gabriela Lovera

From left to right: Kamia Addison, Janna Gaskins, Courtney Barclay, Courtney Pugh, and Jezabel Rosa during pop up shop.

Gabriela Lovera, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Some lessons are meant to stay in the confines of the classroom. Others, not so much.

On March 5, the strategic communications class hosted a pop-up shop for the brand Katherine Way at Jacksonville University.

Katherine Way is a woman’s clothing brand local to Jacksonville. It provides women with versatile moisture-wicking apparel with a UPF 50+ sunscreen protection and is made in the United States.

The brand was one of the clients for the introduction to public relations class. In the class, students formed groups and developed innovative campaigns for real-life clients.

Courtney Barclay, associate professor of communications, teaches the course every fall semester. She explains how the partnership with Katherine Way came to be.

“I have been a fan or Katherine Way’s dresses for a couple of years,” said Barclay. “She actually lives in my neighborhood.  I always look for personal connections when I am trying to get a client to be a part of our class partnership, and I approached her and she was very excited about this opportunity. She has turned out to be an amazing client because she has a background in marketing, so she really understands that students are trying to learn.”

Students in the introduction to public relations course researched the company, its target audience, and observed which social media platforms best accommodated the brand to better understand how to best serve the client.

“Part of the challenge I posed to the introduction to public relations class was to identify opportunities for the client and identify one that they thought a communications campaign could leverage,” said Barclay.

Since the brand’s core audience is comprised of women 35 and older, students identified an opportunity to create awareness for Katherine Way in a different age segment.

“There’s a huge growing demographic of shoppers in the 18 to 25 age brackets,” said Barclay. “We are trying to grow brand awareness, brand exposure within that age group to try and expand her core audience.”

The ideas obtained from the fall were carried over into the spring by the strategic communications class, now in charge of overseeing and carrying out the Katherine Way campaign.

“They are the PR agency for this,” said Barclay. “This event was one part of, granted is a big part, of a five-week campaign, the majority of which will take place on social media”

For Barclay it was important to organize and execute an on-campus event to reach into the identified target segment.

“We wanted to have this in-person event so that we could engage students personally and encourage them to continue that engagement through social media,” said Barclay.

Barclay explains that the fashion show, featured at the event on March 5, was specifically catered to the JU student population.

“The fashion showed the versatility of the clothes in situations that JU students might find themselves in.”

For the social media portion of the campaign, the class is focusing on user engagement through giveaways of items such as dresses and gift cards, all courtesy of Katherine Way, and constant posting.

For Shea Morgan, senior and social media coordinator for the campaign, said this fashion show was one of the highlights of the event.

“Getting to see people interact with the models and see the product on somebody, it’s extremely gratifying,” said Morgan. “It was amazing to introduce JU students to Katherine Way’s product line.”

Morgan believes that the strategic communications course has enhanced her professional skill set.

“As social media manager, this experience will definitely help me out immensely when I graduate and go into the real world,” said Morgan. “I’ve learned how to use design software and plan social media posts efficiently and effectively. The real-world experience gained from working with a real client, implement a real strategy, and track it’s results, it’s invaluable.”

Students weren’t the only ones who benefited professionally from the organizing, overseeing and implementing the campaign.

Katherine Way, herself, believes that the class’s efforts have stirred her brand into a new segment.

“Working with the JU class has been quite exciting,” said Way. “They’ve learned how to be detail oriented and how to be able to take a brand to the next level and really show how we need, as the brand, that interaction with young-adults so that we can continue to grow our brand.”

Barclay believes that courses like strategic communications considerably enhance the personal and professional development of JU students.

“They are getting experience with event planning, with social media posting and analysis, they are getting experience dealing with a client, having to work with someone else’s schedule,” said Barclay. “They are getting that real-world experience and I think that is a really important as part of the education that JU offers to all of its students, but especially in the communications department.”