USA Today advertising VP serves as COBE’s latest executive in residence
College of Business and Economics (COBE) alumnus Jeffrey Burkett ’93 served as the college’s executive in residence for a day on April 11, speaking with students and faculty about his role as an advertising executive.
Burkett is vice president of advertising innovation at the USA Today Network.
“My job is to help the company manage the complexity of digital advertising and to define our unique story to the marketplace,” he explained. “Success requires a deep understanding of digital technology, advertising and journalism and finding the sweet spot where all of those overlap.
“This type of innovation can provide great value to marketers while delivering a great experience to the readers of our 100-plus brands.”
Burkett addressed students in two of Marketing Professor Wil Stanton’s advertising strategy classes and Marketing Professor Angela Stanton’s marketing analytics class.
“The students were really engaged,” Burkett said. “They had a lot of thoughtful suggestions when I asked them how they would solve a problem. I got a lot of unique answers that I hadn’t thought of.”
Burkett “jumped at the chance,” he said, to come back to the university as COBE’s executive in residence. “I like to engage with young people and get fresh ideas and share my experiences.”
Angela Stanton said her students gained from Burkett “a real-world perspective on how data and analytics have changed the nature of advertising in the publishing industry.”
His interactions “also raised students’ awareness about how companies are dealing with the question of how to generate revenue on online platforms in a market that is accustomed to free content and the challenges this presents to all marketers who increasingly rely on digital platforms,” she said.
Wil Stanton said Burkett “engaged students in a discussion about how advertisers ‘get to know them’ by gathering vast amounts of information about their likes and behaviors from data gathered each and every day from such things as Google searches and websites visited.”
Burkett concluded his presentations to Wil Stanton’s classes with a slide show providing information about internship opportunities at USA Today Network, “which was really well received by students,” the professor said.
Looking back to his days as an undergraduate student, Burkett said his Radford University and COBE education has played a pivotal role throughout his career, which has included advertising executive positions at the Washington Post.
“I earned an economics degree specifically to help me understand the economy and how it moves,” Burkett said. “Some of the models I showed in class today are based on the knowledge of the economic models I studied when I was here at Radford.”
During the fall 2014 semester, COBE introduced the Executive in Residence initiative in fall 2014. The program is designed to expose the college's students and faculty to current issues affecting today's business world.
The program is organized by COBE’s Center for Innovation and Analytics with the purpose of inviting executives to visit campus to engage with students, faculty and the campus community through such opportunities as classroom sessions and lectures, one-on-one meetings and campus-wide forums.
The overarching goal for the center is to invest in the lifetimes of students, faculty, staff, alumni, industry partners and all communities of Southwest Virginia.
Wil Stanton and Management Professor Steve Childers serve as the center’s co-directors.