NMU Students Assist Alumni-Owned Business

Monday 20, 2017

Northern Michigan University students recently gained some real-world experience developing public relations tactics for an alumni-owned business in Marquette. Professor Thomas Isaacson's introductory public relations class pitched their suggestions for Nestledown, a Scandinavian-style bed and breakfast across from Lake Superior, to owners Ken and Sue Schauland.

The idea for the project was sparked when Isaacson and his wife, Heather—an NMU faculty member—celebrated their wedding anniversary with a "staycation" at the inn. Isaacson talked with the Schaulands about incorporating an operating business into his public relations class and asked if they were interested in a project that would revolve around Nestledown.

"I chose the inn because I think Ken and Sue have a great business that improves the Marquette community," Isaacson said. "The interaction between NMU students and local business owners is a win-win for all involved. Since Ken and Sue are also NMU alumni, they were thrilled to reconnect with the university."

Six student groups made presentations over two class periods. The Schaulands received suggestions on implementing social responsibility practices, improving Nestledown's website, enhancing social media engagement and local involvement, developing newsworthy press releases and more.

Isaacson then met with the couple to review the student presentations and discuss workable ideas.

"The presentations and Tom Isaacson's assistance have been very helpful for our new business," said Sue. "We are working the student's ideas into our business strategies. For example, we recently used Facebook boosts for a post of ours thanks to a suggestion we received."

Student McKenzie Mathewson said the project provided her with a practical, hands-on public relations experience that gave her insight into what the working world of public relations is like.

"Doing real work for real clients makes the classroom concepts come alive," Isaacson added. "It also begins to provide students with real experiences that can be talked about in future internship and job interviews. Because of this project, the students became more marketable to future employers.

"Engaging the students in the community is also a core value of our university. It is yet another way, along with programs like the Student Leader Fellowship Program and Superior Edge, that we can involve students in Marquette."

Isaacson has included external clients in some of his courses since his arrival at NMU in 2012 and plans to continue. Currently, his public relations campaigns class is working with the Upper Peninsula Regional Blood Center.

Jill Vermeulen
Student Writer

Isaacson's intro to PR class with the Schaulands at Nestledown