This spring semester, Professor Cheryl Ann Lambert’s media relations class teamed up with School of Management Master Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence Mark T. Williams for a tactical approach on learning. Graduate students have been getting hands-on public relations experience by helping promote Williams’ book, Uncontrolled Risk, which was released on April 12.
Uncontrolled Risk uses the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers to explain the drivers behind the recent financial crisis. In his first book, Williams does more than point out financial system and regulatory weaknesses, he also attempts to address the fundamental problems. He weaves together a compelling argument for meaningful financial reform, offering a ten-point action plan that, if followed, will help ensure that the crisis will never be repeated.
“I didn’t know at first what level of involvement we could have,” said Lambert. “But what started out as a research heavy project, turned out to be more tactical.”
While McGraw-Hill published the book, the graduate class was able to help Williams promote it through various media. Some students focused on traditional communication, such as newspapers and magazines, to reach out to the general population. Via Facebook, Twitter and other forms of new media, students helped Williams relate to a more specific population: other college students. By promoting the book to a younger generation, Williams hoped to have his words heard for years to come.
“If you can put a tough topic into everyday terms, you can make a change. It’s Lehman for laymen,” said Williams.
The media relations class also suggested creating a Web site for the book, which would provide a convenient place to buy it and offer additional information about the Lehman Brothers crisis and Williams himself. Students were able to design the site, create the content and launch it just before the book was released. The students maintained the Web site throughout the semester.
“I think it’s really groundbreaking to have such synergy between the colleges,” said Williams. “The project helps build the image of ‘One BU.’”
Boston University as a whole as been highly supportive of this type of interdisciplinary class work in recent years. With different colleges working together, students can learn from the other fields and receive a more well-rounded education. However, the students aren’t the only ones who benefit from such a project. Williams has also taken some valuable lessons away from the project.
“I learned that if you don’t have the public relations, a good book can just get lost and your word might never be heard,” he said.