School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

Applied Humanities Hallmark Peepal

Second year students from history and English courses in the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities were recently given the opportunity to work on live industry briefs set by our partners at Hallmark Cards and Leeds based publishers Peepal Tree Press. 
Published on 10 Aug 2020
As part of the Applied Humanities module, students were pitched to and then got to choose which project most appealed to them. They then worked with either Hallmark or Peepal, gaining first-hand experience of what it was like to work in areas that their degrees could lead them to working in. In return our industry partners were able gain from the fact that the students brought their relevant academic knowledge and high-level skills to bear on the project.

Hallmark Cards

Hallmark Cards set a brief which posed questions about how the greeting cards industry can increase engagement amongst 15-24 year-olds, also known as ‘Generation z’. Students looked at what it means to connect with each other in the 2020s, what the future of greeting cards might look like in the age of digital media, how inclusivity and wellbeing can be improved, and how hallmark can better connect with customers. Working with Hallmark’s Writing Studio, the task was to produce a presentation which put forward a new concept or product that could be adopted by Hallmark in response to one or more of these themes. This gave students an insight into what it was like to work on several aspects of product development within a large creative business like Hallmark. At the same time the company got to benefit from the enthusiasm and some of the amazing ideas produced by our students.
Hallmark logo - gold writing on purple background

Emma Bragg, Writing Director at Hallmark Cards had this to say about the company’s involvement with the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities,

“For many years Hallmark has run a successful design student placement programme which inspired us to extend the programme into our Writing Studio. The programme is mutually beneficial as it means we are able to harness a rich source of talent and knowledge from the students whilst also offering them the opportunity to work on live briefs and experience how a large international company such as ourselves work…

…We are always so impressed with the students’ passion and confidence.” 

Writers Studio Logo

Peepal Tree Press

Peepal Tree Press are a Leeds based publisher with a focus on Caribbean, Black British, and South Asian fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama and academic books. They were looking for students to work with their marketing and publicity team, to focus on the company’s social media and to produce content that brought their books to life and boosted engagement. English with Creative Writing student Faatimah Mayat took on this challenge, picking up a range of skills along the way, including writing blurbs and producing publicity copy, and gaining experience of working in the publishing industry.

As part of her work, Faatimah had the opportunity to work with several published authors, meeting the “amazing” Monique Roffey and conducting an email interview with poet Marvin Thompson. She said of her experience,

“It allowed me to witness first-hand, one avenue which my degree may take me down. I also experienced the amount of reading, re-reading and editing that goes into submitting professional writing.” 

 As well as getting to see how a publishing house works Faatimah highlighted how working with Peepal helped her both develop her research skills and an understanding of what is required by an employer in this kind of industry.

Hannah Bannister, Operations Manager at Peepal, talked to us about the collaboration with Leeds Beckett University “we really enjoy seeing students realising that their uni skills are relevant to workplaces, and passing on some knowledge about indie publishing. We also value their responses to our books - they bring a younger, fresh perspective.”

Along with carrying out a research project in conjunction with industry partners, students taking part in the Applied Humanities module are also set a range of tasks that encourage them to think about their career destination and the application of skills developed on their course. Faatimah specifically pointed to the way in which the module focused on employability skills through practical workshops on topics such as selling yourself and developing a network of professional contacts through a number of online platforms.

Peepal Tree Press Logo

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