Students rush to their next class at International College Beijing

The University of Colorado Denver and Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR) announce a new program to educate CU Denver students about global business and communications skills through an intensive public relations planning course in China.

The undergraduate course will be conducted at CU Denver’s International College Beijing, where seven American and 10 Chinese students will develop public relations proposals for the Government Information Office of the City of Chengdu in order to attract foreign direct investment and international tourism.

Ogilvy PR’s Denver office will assess the students’ final proposals based on client objectives, creativity and potential effectiveness. The firm may present select student ideas to the client. “As the largest public relations agency in Denver, Ogilvy PR brings a unique global perspective to our clients, work and teams. We are committed to the development and education of future global communications professionals through innovative learning environments. Partnerships like this will help to ensure students develop the skill sets they need in the global business landscape,” said Tara May, general manager of Ogilvy PR/Denver.

Chengdu is China’s fourth-largest city, the capital of Sichuan province, and the home of both the eponymous red chili pepper and the panda bear. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in Asia and a fierce competitor for international investment. Its stature is sure to rise through the collaborative efforts of the students and Ogilvy Public Relations, which currently services the Chengdu Government Office account.

The course is valuable for exposing students to the practical and ethical dimensions of international public relations, but also for requiring U.S. and Chinese students to interact and cooperate. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, U.S. and Chinese citizens are wary of each other. “At their best, international public relations campaigns demonstrate what people have in common and suggest how they might collaborate to solve shared problems. The course does that on the micro-level,” said the course’s instructor, Assistant Professor Hamilton Bean.

Through interactions with Ogilvy PR offices in both Denver and Beijing, the partnership offers students a glimpse of professional life and international careers not normally available to undergraduates on either side of the Pacific. Rodney D. Bell, an independent consultant and lecturer in the Department of Communication at CU Denver, has taught classes in China. “As a working public relations professional and lecturer, I stress the importance of experience and real-world settings for students. The partnership with Ogilvy is a tremendous opportunity that many students in Colorado might never get. Hands-on service learning equips students not only as professionals, but as citizens who will contribute to society in many ways,” said Bell.

“Chengdu has taken a positive step forward with its activities to protect pandas and their habitat,” Bean said. “We want our proposals to encourage further protection of Chengdu’s ecology, as well as foster social equity and enterprise. It’s exciting.”

Called “DouDou” by his Chinese students (“bean” in Mandarin), Bean has taught several communication courses in China, but he expects this one to be the most challenging. “Not only do we have undergraduates who are basically new to the world of public relations, we have to produce empirically-driven, creative and viable plans for Chengdu in under eight weeks with U.S. students who may be experiencing culture shock. We really have to support each other to get this done.”

Jamaal Graves, a junior communications major at CU Denver, said gaining an international perspective is important for any future public relations professional. “You can be good at your work in your own country, but if you have a world sense you can apply that in your country in ways that other people can’t.”

The students from the Denver Campus arrived in Beijing Feb. 16-18 and will be enrolled in the course until April 12.

About the course
The course is part of the International College Beijing program, a joint education program between CU Denver and China Agricultural University. Formed in 1994, the partnership was one of the first of its kind approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education. CU Denver has seen an influx of Chinese students at its downtown Denver campus, and Office of Global Education administrators have recently persuaded more Denver-based students to study in Beijing. The course will help students recognize the academic and professional opportunities available to them in China. Toward this end, Bean hopes to share the students’ final projects on the communication department website once the course has concluded later this spring.

About Ogilvy Public Relations
Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR) is a global, multi-disciplinary communications leader operating in more than 85 offices across six continents. In 2012, Ogilvy was named Cannes Lions Network of the Year and Most Effective Agency Network by the Effie Global Effectiveness Index, named Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year by the Holmes Report, won Consumer Consultancy of the Year in Asia Pacific (Holmes Report), and won the WPP global, top award (WPPed Cream, Crème de la Crème) for the fifth time in six years. Ogilvy PR integrates deeply with all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines (advertising, direct marketing, activation, promotional, digital and entertainment) through the proprietary Ogilvy Fusion™ approach to delivering comprehensive, business solutions through content creation, community building, and communications with measurable results. Ogilvy PR is a unit of Ogilvy & Mather, a WPP company (NASDAQ: WPPGY), and one of the largest marketing communications companies in the world. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at @ogilvypr.

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