Newhouse School, W2O Group partner to form Center for Social Commerce
The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and W2O Group, an independent global network of leading communications counseling firms, today announced the creation of the W2O Group Center for Social Commerce, focusing on imparting industry-leading skills and acumen to students, professors, staff and clients in the emerging field of social commerce.
“With the rapid changes taking place in technology, business and society impacting the role and efficacy of communications, our students and faculty are excited about partnering with a leading organization such as W2O Group and its founder, Jim Weiss ’87, to guide us into the future,” says Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham. “As a pioneer and innovator in communications education, Newhouse is always looking for ways to make sure its students are not only ready but ahead of the competition when they graduate. Creating a new-age, dynamic social commerce curriculum reflects our stated mission to prepare our students for success upon graduation.”
The communications field has undergone a sea change with the advent of social, online, digital and mobile media. This, combined with increasingly sophisticated and more precise Big Data media analytics and technologies, such as those used successfully by the Obama campaign to microtarget voters in the 2012 presidential election, has led to an evolution and pragmatic disruption of how marketers and communicators are able to view, plan and execute upon traditional paid, owned, shared and earned media models. The result of this new alchemy is the emergence of “social commerce,” which enables marketers and communicators to create demand and drive desired actions and/or revenues via online channels. Marketing and communications professionals are now capable of building social commerce strategies that inform and evolve their overall sales and marketing strategies and more effectively position their brand, campaign or cause and tell their story online. In many respects, earned media is becoming the leading driver and will increasingly guide cost-effective and more precise and targeted use of paid media in the future.
Weiss, a 1987 alumnus of the Newhouse School’s public relations program, said he hopes the W2O-Newhouse partnership will allow students and faculty to gain and share expertise in the area of social commerce. “The groundbreaking practice of using digital analytics to drive social commerce strategies and solutions is changing how companies, campaigners and causes reach customers, influencers, voters and partners. It also is changing how e-commerce is conducted online, which leads to new product lines and distribution channels,” said Weiss, who is funding the partnership with an initial $100,000 gift to the school.
Newhouse faculty will collaborate with W2O staff to determine the full details of the new center, which will include field placement at W2O Group offices for students and professors; interactions with experts in areas such as analytics and digital technology; guest lectures; and new course content in social commerce. While the center will have its home in the Newhouse public relations department, it will extend its teaching, research and applied practices within the entire school and throughout other schools at Syracuse.
This partnership will provide opportunities for Newhouse students and professors to rotate through the various W2O Group offices in San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, New York and London, interact with the firm’s clients and learn from experts in analytics, digital, social, corporate, technology and research areas. In return, senior W2O Group leaders will guest lecture at Newhouse and work with the University’s faculty to create new courses and update existing ones.
“As a graduate of Newhouse and beneficiary of so many of its smart, well-prepared graduates in multiple communications disciplines, I know first hand the commitment to quality, leadership and focus on innovation that Syracuse University and the Newhouse School of Public Communications provides, which makes it the ideal partner for this program,” says Weiss. “We are seeing the power of social commerce—the intersection of commerce, content and social connections—pay off big for our clients, and we believe this center will educate and inspire the new generation of students so they are adequately prepared to work and constantly innovate in this area.”
W2O Group’s companies, including WCG and Twist Mktg, work with dozens of global brands across consumer, corporate, technology and healthcare industries on integrated, holistic communications strategies involving social commerce to solve myriad business issues.
In addition to Weiss, a number of W20 Group professional staff also graduated from Newhouse including: Gail Cohen ’89; Jennifer Gottlieb ‘92; Gary Grates ’99; Joanna Cochran ’02; Kelli Raymor ’02; Scott Shadiow ’03; David Fossas ’04; Mindy Huber ’04; Amy Pasqua ’05; Joey Fleury ’07; Allison Klein ’08; Kendra Brogden ’10; Elise Hunt ’11; and Rachel Leslie ’11.