Five seniors, Angel Landeros, Isabel Gabrail, Tommy Bito, Jasmine Holliday and Michelle Cronin, worked with The Coast News as part of their Senior Experience project, a program that matches students with projects submitted by regional and national businesses and organizations.
This particular matchup aimed to increase the social media engagement of The Coast News, a news publication headquartered in Encinitas.
“As a group, we came up with three objectives: growing the podcast, increasing the web trafficking and growing the paper’s social media presence,” Gabrail said. “It was a challenge being all online through Zoom, but it was a great experience because we were able to come together and share each of our own knowledge while being able to collaborate with a professional publication.”
The team was made up of two business management majors, two marketing majors and one finance major.
“These are people who are using social media all the time, which is what made it so helpful,” said Chris Kydd, The Coast News Group’s advertising director and associate publisher. “We’re already applying some basic things that I thought we already were doing, like using hashtag marketing right, the difference between all the social media platforms and how you need to post to be appropriate on each one.”
He added that, because of what they learned through this experience, The Coast News realized the need for creating a new role, a community engagement editor, to handle social media.
Catherine Tricker, the team’s faculty advisor and a lecturer at CSUSM, explained how valuable this experience is, not only for the students to face real business situations but also for the businesses to get a fresh perspective.
“They really leveraged their own skills,” Tricker said. “Being students and being young adults, one of the objectives was for The Coast News to reach the younger demographic, and the students quickly realized that they are that demographic, and they leveraged that and used their own skills and networks to reach that objective.”
Because of this partnership, The Coast News has decided to start carrying The Cougar Chronicle, CSUSM’s student newspaper, on its website to make it more accessible to the community.
“They’ve spent the past few years learning about it in the classroom, but getting the hands-on experience is so valuable,” Tricker said. “And to understand what it’s like to work as part of a business, to have real goals and real objectives, as well as real limitations, and having to execute that is such a good learning experience.”