CORPORATE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT: EXAM – 76%

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By achieving 76%, this exam resulted in an unexpected personal milestone of progression. Throughout the majority of tasks in third year, I was instructed to analyse a firm’s current situation and with this information, suggest a strategy for the future of the company. One can find the challenges initially faced in my other blog posts. However, I believe my success in this exam exhibits the progression I have made in efficiently applying this practice.

The exam was slightly unique, in that it was open-book and that I was asked to prepare a two-page analysis of the case-study organisation, Sports Direct, to be included in the exam. The open-book nature and the prior knowledge of the case study meant I was able to gather useful information, allowing me to construct highly detailed and specific answers.

The exam had three questions. The first was previously informed to be either CSR or Ethics. The other two were a raffle between ten topics. Commonly with exams, advice from tutors involved; out of the ten topic areas, choose four or five to cover in depth, increasing the likelihood of two of them coming up.

Sports Direct was specifically chosen because of the damage its reputation had received from various stakeholders. Through rigorous research of Sports Direct, looking at the historical timeline of negative media coverage and the manner in which Sports Direct handled the situation. I was able to see the links between the company’s failure and the theory covered in the unit.

The extent to which I achieved this was extremely surprising. When one has prepared specific questions for an exam, the anticipation of whether they are going to come up is immense. This is intensified even more where, instead of covering four-to-five topics, I had gambled with only preparing three. Time was a major influencing factor of this but I was also quietly confident that these were by far the most important issues. Despite my confidence, I was absolutely stunned when I opened the paper and saw, the three questions I had prepared for the second part all featured in the exam in the exact way I had written them. I was able to answer three out of the four question (although only two were needed) and essentially write down my answers word-for-word.

At the time I brazenly thought, I couldn’t have gotten luckier if I had written the exam myself. However, on further reflection, I found a great deal of pride in managing to analyse a company’s situation and prioritise the most important actions, to the extent that I had reached the same conclusions as my tutors through their choice of questioning. I believe this grade showcases the ultimate progression I have made through repeatedly engaging with this analytical practice and gives me great confidence for my future work and career.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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Strategic Marketing Management: Report – 74%

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sostac_plan_long_2This unit introduced me to the top-level of marketing and was one of the most enjoyable and challenging parts of third year. It had a significant impression on my affinity towards advertising and widened my future employment perspectives.

In the past I had been fairly sceptical of academic models in relation to their relevance in practice. Whereas, through applying PR Smith’s SOSTAC® framework and various other analysis tools in this unit, I found my opinions of theory to favourably change.

In a group of three, my task was to fully apply SOSTAC® to Nestle, specifically its baby food division. We first conducted a situation analysis and then using this information, justly proposed objectives, creative targeted actions and controlling measures.

The initial situation analysis process required logical, problem-solving thinking. We needed to weigh up: which market, product and consumer would provide the most value in targeting. While taking into account extenuating circumstances involving boycott actions against Nestle.

Through extremely comprehensive analysis, my group was able to use data to justify almost all of our decisions. The only bias decision was the choice of the UK market, which admittedly, was chosen due to the favourable amount of data available regarding this market.

The thorough analysis set us up very well for the more creative stage of SOSTAC®, the actions. We were able to brainstorm innovative marketing tactics that took full advantage of the market and consumer trends in the UK, while conforming to the regulations associated with baby food advertising and the impact of the boycott.

The main challenge my group encountered when formulating this report, was the sheer vastness of data we had gathered. Being introduced to a wide array of models, coupled with my tutor granting great freedom through the choice of any market or product we could justify, meant the process of narrowing our work down to fit the 10-page limit was extremely challenging. This is highlighted by the report’s word count, just under 12,000 words. Admittedly, this was an excessive amount to squeeze onto 10 pages and possibly hindered our mark.

However, the challenges of this task provided me with a valuable learning experience, (quote first post of 3rd). Good research is largely useless if the uncovered bits of gold are not communicated to managers effectively. Communication is at the heart of advertising. If the marketers themselves are unable to communicate internally, what hope do they have of engaging externally.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed conducting such a comprehensive assignment. Using logical thinking in determining which pathway to create ideas around was extremely satisfying. In second year, I had been fairly one-track-minded in believing my goal was to be a ‘creative’ in an agency, however, this unit opened my eyes to the affinity I have towards analytical research and widened my scope in considering these roles as well.

My group and I received 74% for this assignment.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith. For more information on SOSTAC® Planning & becoming a SOSTAC® Certified Planner visit www.SOSTAC.org .

Strategic Communications & Advertising Planning: Part 1 – Report – 90%

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This post is the first piece of work from the third year of my degree. This year, the tasks primarily focussed on applying theory in relation to a firm and its particular scenario. This assignment had two parts, an individual report and a group presentation.

My team and I decided upon Volkswagen (VW), as the task warranted a company that was in need of refocusing or refreshment. The report involved a situation analysis of VW, examining: the customer context, the business context, the internal context and the external context. It heavily concentrated on VW’s emissions scandal of 2015.

Using stakeholder analysis, PESTLE, SWOT and in-depth market and consumer analysis facilitated by Mintel, I was able to prioritise four key issues VW faced and identify SMART marketing communications objectives justly addressing the problems.

A difficulty I initially found with this task involved diluting down the vast amount of data I gathered. The report had a 10-page limit, meaning by no means could all the data be included. With performing numerous situation analyses in my other units, I became more experienced at this practice of narrowing down, while attaining the ‘bigger picture’. Being able to find data, analyse it in its entirety and then pick out the valuable bits of information in order to create an informed prioritised plan of action, is a skill I believe to have progressively developed during third year.

I received 90% for this assignment, a grade I’m extremely proud to receive and did not expect to ever achieve at university. Please use the email below to view a sample of the report.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

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Marketing Communications Theory and Practice

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picture1For this unit, an open-book exam comprised 50% of the overall unit grade. An approach I welcomed, as the eradication of guesswork allowed for a much more focused learning experience.

The first question involved a semiotic analysis of a poster by Whiskas cat food (image above.)

I was to consider all elements in order to extract and interpret what messages the advertisers were trying to convey to their audience.

Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of semiotics provided the framework by which I could highlight the key symbolism, while justifying these points in relation to Whiskas’ brand, product and market development.

The open-book nature enabled myself to essentially write up the piece prior to the exam. Click on the image above or follow this link to view a sample from my answer. I received a first in this exam.

From a creative perspective, I greatly enjoyed the subject of semiotics. As Alastair Crompton impressed upon me in his book ‘The Craft of Copywriting’, the question why? is of paramount importance in marketing.

I believe the level of analysis applied in this task, along with arduous attention to detail have granted me invaluable skills toward my professional development.


Email: hudacummings@gmail.com

LinkedIn: Yehudah Cummings

Twitter: Yehudah Cummings

Facebook: Yehudah Cummings

Click to view my CV.