McMaster-Syracuse MCM February Residency: Record Cohort and 7 Capstone Defenses

Another successful residency of the McMaster-Syracuse MCM program drew to a close on Thursday afternoon. We had a wonderful time sharing ideas, debating the latest industry challenges and opportunities and simply building friendships and professional collaborations.

This residency saw three key events:

  • Seven students successfully defended their capstone research projects. The capstone project is the culminating event in the MCM. Most of the successful students left on Sunday for a well-deserved “new MCM alumni trip” to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.
  • Terry O’Reilly, founding partner, Pirate Radio, a major advertising firm, and creator and host of two successful CBC radio shows – The Age of Persuasion and Under the Influence – gave an insightful and engaging speech at the Saturday MCM Gala dinner that is held at the start of every residency.
  • John Clinton, president, Edelman Canada, a major public relations firm, presented the lunchtime keynote on the findings of the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, which measures trust levels in different sectors and countries globally.

This residency also saw the record-setting first-year cohort of 23 new MCM students finish their first term and head confidently into their second term of six. Now they are old pros and full of excitement at the positive difference that the MCM is making for them by boosting their professional careers and enriching their personal lives.

To ‘cap it all off’ our graduating class offered a wealth of new insight and research directly applicable to practice, and continuing in the MCM tradition of leadership. The following abstracts showcase the talent and innovation, of another successful round of graduate capstone presentations.

From Enrolment to Alumni: Relationship Marketing and Measurement of University-Student Relations (Katherine Blanchard, Supervisor: Dr. Alex Sévigny)

A study that included 17 U.S. and Canadian universities, looked at the application of relationship management theory and relationship marketing to University-student relationship. Examining key components of relationship management, and relationship marketing to develop best practices for university-student relations. The research developed a comprehensive view of tactic and strategy for community building and adding value to the student experience.

Natural or Misleading: A content analysis of media coverage and consumer comments on product labeling and impact on reputation and the bottom-line. (Rosa Damonte, Supervisor: Dr. Terry Flynn)

​The prominence of media attention to a particular product is something that marketing departments strive to achieve when introducing a new product to market. Whereas conventional wisdom suggests that any publicity is good publicity, does the media cross the line when they are aiming to persuade in some way? As in this case study, agenda setting by reporters and editors can influence the public’s perception of companies through their selection and display of the news. This case study explores consumers’ reactions to the news coverage of a major food producer’s product line that were reported extensively in major newspapers and television networks in order to determine the impact the coverage had on the company’s reputation and bottom line.

Best Practices for Media Relations in a Shifting World (Susan M. Emigh, Supervisor: Dr. Philip Savage)

Public relations practitioners are key in media relations and as the variety of media sources and digital media continues to evolve, the role is becoming more complex. Through surveying 18 influential players in politics, journalism and public relations, it was found that traditional media sources are no longer the sole-gatekeepers of “agenda setting” but have maintained most of their viewership and authority in influencing public policy issues. Although the fundamentals are maintained, additional understanding of new media streams is needed as they continue to gain credibility.

Exploring the Relationship Between Personal Experience, Word of Mouth and a Community Hospital’s Reputation, (Anne Marie Males, Supervisor: Prof. David Scholz)

Looking at the importance of corporate reputation building and reputation management in the context of community hospitals. The importance of reputation is recognized by hospital administrators, and this study illustrates that standard models of corporate reputation do have direct application to the community hospital setting. Personal experience and word of mouth, and in particular the appeal to emotion, came out as prominent influence in patient evaluations of treatment. The results suggested that “feeling cared about” and a positive experience positively influenced how patients and families evaluated outcomes of treatment. Good experiences in hospital translated into a positive hospital experience, even when clinical outcomes where poor.

Thought Leadership in Canadian Professional Service Firms (Wendy McLean-Cobban, Supervisor: Prof. David Scholz)

A new reputation based economy and increasing value of intellectual capitol create the opportunity for Canadian service firms to gain a competitive advantage through Thought Leadership. Becoming ‘leaders in the field’ is an important goal and strategy in reputation management for professional firms. There is an opportunity for implementation of long-term strategies that will position the leaders in those firms as experts on the topics and industries most relevant to their existing and potential client base. This study examined the need for a holistic approach and mechanisms for tracking reputation and thought leadership strategy.

The New Lobbyist Rolodex: PR, (Jennifer Tomlinson, Supervisor: Prof. Michael Meath)

An in-depth inquiry on lobbying in Canada through a communications management and public relations perspective. The findings indicated that PR and Communications intersect in the practice of Lobbying, with “soft lines” of separation between them. Social media is breaking down the traditional singular networks of power in government relations, increasing the need for public relations and communications strategy to play a more strategic role in lobbying.

Reputation and Perception of Value: Online vs. Traditional Degrees (Amber Wallace, Supervisor: Prof. David Scholz)

Online education is becoming increasingly more popular, with the rise of online universities and the increasing number of traditional “bricks-and-mortar” post-secondary institutions offering online courses. It found that educational programs based solely online are poorly perceived, lacking institutional reputation. Established classroom based institutions offering online education benefited from a “halo-effect” based on their established relationship. The study found that the executives, administrators and hiring managers expressed concern for the “un-tested” nature of online learning. That is, that online education programs are a relatively new development and the graduates looking to enter the workforce don’t have the long-standing reputation of classroom based programs and established universities.

Dr. Al Seaman teaching MCM students about how financial market trading works in our McMaster Trading Floor Simulator.
Dr. Al Seaman teaching MCM students about how financial market trading works in our McMaster Trading Floor Simulator. (photo: Sarah Parent)
A candid moment during the MCM Saturday Gala Dinner.
A candid moment during the MCM Saturday Gala Dinner. (photo: Sarah Parent)


Terry O'Reilly in conversation with MCM Exec. Director, Alex Sévigny.
Terry O’Reilly in conversation with Alex Sévigny, MCM Executive Director. (photo: Sarah Parent)
John Clinton, president, Edelman Canada presenting the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.
John Clinton, president, Edelman Canada presenting the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer. (Photo: Sarah Parent)
Students who completed their capstones successfully.
Happy moment, post-capstone defense! (Photo: Sarah Parent)
Alex Sévigny, MCM Executive Director, giving a capstone briefing for 2nd year students.
Alex Sévigny, MCM Executive Director, giving a capstone briefing for 2nd year students. (photo: Sarah Parent)


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