YAYA Connection provides students with real-world experience

YAYA Connection, an agency started within the strategic communications department, aims to benefit student with experience and companies with helpful information.

The YAYA Connection, a new strategic communication capstone course, provides companies with research while giving students real-world experience.

The YAYA Connection is a group that allows companies to access research about how to target the business of 18- to 24-year-olds, also known as Youth And Young Adults.

“YAYA Connection was meant to be an informational hub that would ultimately help businesses thoroughly understand the Youth and Young Adult market, while also helping generate profit for the company,” the YAYA Connection Plan Book states.

Strategic Communication Department Chairwoman Margaret Duffy started the project in fall of 2008 through a fellowship from the Reynolds Journalism Institute. The plan was a website that would be a research hub and have primary and secondary research as well as curated articles regarding the YAYA market, Journalism Futures Lab Advertising Editor Brad Best said.

In 2010, the strategic communication department decided to introduce a capstone class to increase the number of people working on the project.

The agency was formed last semester within a capstone course focused on development. This semester, YAYA Connection students aim to fine-tune the agency, further develop its identity and raise client awareness, spokeswoman Julie Willbrand said.

“YAYA Connection is one of a kind in that it is run by students in the YAYA age group, giving us the ability to provide clients with unique insight based not only on our research but also on our personal experiences,” she said.

The YAYA Connection Plan Book lays out the various services that will be offered by the company. Companies using YAYA Connection will be able to view blog posts about what YAYAs think about current events, research report summaries on various topics and curated content about the YAYA demographic on the website.

Companies will also be able to have YAYA staff members and researchers give their opinions on a specific product, or a three-hour session in which they can talk to four to six YAYA staff members called a YAYA Think Tank. Finally, companies will be offered the opportunity to host YAYA staff members at conferences or events to give their perspectives.

The class is offered to undergraduate and graduate students in the strategic communication emphasis. Journalism students in other sequences can also take the course with permission, Best said.

“It’s exciting to be involved in YAYA Connection at this time, because we have the opportunity to lay the foundation that future students will build upon and clients will benefit from,” YAYA spokeswoman Lauren Ferrise said.

Ferrise said the agency offers services to any company whose target audience is the YAYA age group. YAYA Connection benefits students by giving them real-world experience and provides value to clients through quality research and insights.

YAYA Connection targets the 18- to 24-year-old audience. Instead of changing to target the interests of the millennials, the company will maintain the YAYA audience, the Plan Book states.

“I see YAYA Connection as an outlet to expand upon the strategic communication department’s expertise in the Youth and Young Adult demographic and provide new ways for advertisers to tap into this knowledge,” strategic communication assistant professor Stephanie Padgett said in an email. 

The agency is trying to raise awareness and increase its number of clients. Students in the capstone course are working on developing website and social media content and finding more curated material.

The website is expected to go live within the next two weeks. There will also be a newsletter out soon containing more information about the agency, Willbrand said.

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