Marketing scholar Ada Wong made a difference to students' learning through new social marketing course
Prof Wong Hiu-kan, Ada
Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing and International Business
The change in students and people we served made teaching the course so worthwhile.Prof Ada Wong
The business world and international markets are ever changing, so if students plan to pursue a career in that field, they need the fundamental knowledge plus the soft skills and mindset to impress. But they must also be aware of the latest themes and trends which are shaping corporate thinking, innovative strategies and investment priorities.
Introducing social marketing
While concepts like corporate social responsibility, or CSR, and community outreach are nothing new, it is surprising that only a few courses in Hong Kong offer students a true understanding of what they are all about.
"For many people in Hong Kong, social marketing is a fuzzy concept," says Prof Ada Wong, Assistant Professor at the Department of Marketing and International Business. "In essence, it is about applying the principles and theories of marketing to promote positive behaviour and give something back to society."
One of Prof Wong’s responsibilities is teaching a module on "To Care About Our Society - Social Marketing", a course she pioneered on joining Lingnan six years ago. She began teaching this course in September 2012. "The department head asked me to create a new cluster subject so that business students could fulfil the university’s service-learning requirement,’ she says. "It was a challenge for the department because, in business, we are usually talking about how to earn money, not helping others."
In fact, she was not the first to try her hand at creating a course along these lines. But the former colleague’s efforts had centred more on marketing via social media, not social marketing as it has come to be known, with the aim of helping the wider community. "I changed everything except the title," Prof Wong says. "And I was very glad to have it already accepted as an established subject."
Making a difference
Teaching the course, though, is still very demanding. It requires a great deal of time planning and organising projects with community partners. In addition, since students are representing Lingnan when they go out in the community, Prof Wong becomes personally engaged in every project to ensure the university’s reputation is upheld. She has no complaints; though, believing that the outcome is well worth the effort. The success of the course not only benefitted students but also brought her the Teaching Excellence Award 2015/16.
"As a teacher, I don’t always know the outcome of programmes, aside from the exam results," she says. "But in this course, the students change. You can feel their passion, and we can immediately see some difference in the positive influence they have on society. This is something not every teacher can achieve."
One course requirement is to participate in a service project in conjunction with community partners. Every year, there is a different theme. It might be helping mentally challenged people integrate into society or working with the police to prevent youth crime. Traditional marketing techniques such as the "Ten Step Model" are used to plan and organise the activities.
The impact of such projects was particularly evident after a one-day event for senior citizens, which students organised with the Social Welfare Department. After learning how to use social media such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, one elderly woman gave the students a warm hug and thanked them profusely for such a wonderful day. Later, they also received messages of appreciation from family members of the elderly people who had participated.
"The change in students and people we served made teaching the course so worthwhile." Prof Wong says.