Eighteen postgraduate students from 11 countries pitched their ideas for increasing the profile of the store’s office furniture range to IKEA’s management team at Leeds Business School.
Four teams of MA Public Relations and Strategic Communications and MA International Communication students were tasked with researching the business furniture and furnishings market in the Leeds region. Then they were asked to develop a comprehensive communications plan to raise awareness of IKEA Leeds in the Yorkshire business community.
The winning team of students are Shannon Grimm-Berghaus (Germany), Cecilie Larsen (Denmark), Pedro Pacheco (Brazil), Adam Pernak (UK), Laura Thabart (France) and Aubree West (United States).
The contest was so close that IKEA also named a runner-up team: Irina Bernatskaya (Ukraine), Kristina Brunvall (Sweden), Julie Knapp (USA), Pretty Lumempouw (Indonesia), Sofia Segato (Italy) and Liam Wilkinson (UK).
Robert Minton-Taylor, a former managing director of a Leeds-based communications consultancy and senior lecturer at Leeds Business School, branded the three month project a great success. He commented: "In our 25th year of teaching PR in the UK our mission is to bring students closer to business and professions. Working with IKEA, one of the world’s most iconic brands, gives students a good insight of what it’s like to work in a ‘real world’ context.
“Our research with employers shows that the top five skills they look for in PR graduates are excellent oral and verbal communication skills, creative and innovative thinking, business acumen, teamwork and respect for people and knowledge of the latest communications techniques in a digital age. Working with IKEA helps set up these students with the skills they need for a successful career.”
Speaking about winning the competition, team leader, Aubree West from Los Angeles, said: “It was so beneficial to get to work with such a renowned business like IKEA. Having client based projects such as this one really makes a difference. It increases post-graduation employment opportunities and brings practicality to what we learn in the classroom. My favourite part about this course was being able to meet and work with people from all over the world.”
Helen Denton, marketing manager, IKEA Leeds said: “The high standard of the students' work made the judging difficult, but in the end the winner was clear. We went with the team that delivered the best all round experience and had the best workable solutions.
“It’s important for us to play a role in the development of future professionals. We are keen to build our partnership with Leeds Beckett University because we believe their students can help us with ideas to grow our business in the Leeds area in a sustainable way. For us it’s a win-win partnership.”
Kristina Brunvall, student course representative said: “Having a masters’ degree may look good on a CV, but what really sets graduates apart in interviews is having hands on experiences to draw from. The IKEA project was a great opportunity for us to apply our academic knowledge to a real live business situation. It’s a job winner.”
Leeds Beckett University has been working with IKEA Leeds for five years developing new communication campaigns to help build sustainability for the global brand.
Currently celebrating 25 years of Public Relations education, Leeds Business School offers one of the longest-running PR courses in the UK and enjoys an international reputation as a leading centre for public relations education. For more information about the range of PR courses at Leeds Beckett University visit www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/pr.