This summer, a group of students from the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism have stepped outside their comfort and time zone. Seventeen of the School’s strategic communications students have traveled to China for a monthlong learning experience that will forever change how they see their place in the world.

The trip is part of a partnership between the School and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China. Harrison/Omnicom Visiting Professor in Integrated Marketing Communications Jim Ebel organized the trip, which includes an IMC course and a two-week internship.

School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed says this summer’s trip is part of the School’s ongoing effort to provide global experiences for students.

“These students will be learning about their subject matter in an international context,” said Reed. “To be able to pair that with a hands-on professional experience in China will make them even more marketable to future employers.”

Students start their adventure at GDUFS. The first order of business: an intensive, five-day IMC course, taught by Ebel. WVU and Chinese students study together for four hours each morning and then spend the evenings in Chinese retail markets completing specific IMC assignments.

For example, the students might visit a computer mart to see whether the sales person offers a benefit or simply highlights the features when promoting a product. Or, they might visit an herbal medicine market to study the advertising copy, as a lesson in claims substantiation. At the end of the week, the students team up, choose a product and develop an IMC campaign around it. Each group is then given 24 hours to complete the project and present it in class the next day.

Ebel says of the cross-cultural mix of students is a good blend for learning.

“The advertising field is older and more established in the U.S., and our students typically put more focus on brand strategy,” he said. “The Chinese students, coming from a younger advertising market, place value on creativity.”

After the course and a day of sightseeing, students begin their internships in organizations and companies in and around Guangdong province, in the south of China.

Grouped in teams based on their skill sets, students will work in one of four internships. The first will help develop international branding and positioning for Guangzhou, one of China’s largest cities. Another will assist a plus-size women’s clothing brand, MsShe, by creating branding to compete with its newest competitor. The third group will work with Charm, a Chinese advertising agency that specializes in television and Internet advertising. The final group will assist with positioning Creative Park, a multi-industry center for business research and development in Foshan, a city in central Guangdong province.

After the internships, students get a longer chance to sightsee. They’ll take a bullet train to Beijing to tour the city and visit the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall. Then they will travel to Shanghai for six days before returning home.

Advertising senior James McHale from Lewes, Delaware, said he feels lucky to be able to participate.

“I know this experience will broaden my horizons, and I’d like to work in an international company someday, so this is a great way to prepare for that,” said McHale.

Follow their adventure at



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism

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