Students Monica Helms, Colleen Cleveland and Adam Baldowski brought their Media Psych skills to Chicago to work with grubHub on corporate social responsibility.
By Adam Baldowski
It all started at Winter Session 2014, with a white page, a company name, and a can-do attitude. We were tasked to create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) presentation for a company based out of Chicago. The company was grubHub, and we hit the ground running, discussing general ideas with a company liaison.
There were four of us in the group: Monica Helms, Colleen Cleveland, and I formed the student contingent, while Dr. Janet De Merode led the charge as our faculty mentor. We didn’t know it at the time, but the CSRproject would be one of the hardest, yet most fun experiences we would have during our time at Fielding.
Each of us brought a skill and prior knowledge from our own personal and professional experience to the group. For me this was the perfect marriage between my personal, professional, and academic lives because I was able to utilize prior knowledge of the design world and understanding client needs, while the Media Psychology program allowed us to bring a psychological perspective to the overall initiative.
We decided to remove the academic side of the presentation initially in order to focus on the brand we were working with. As students we would need to explain our choices and tie in our research to concepts we were learning—but as designers our focus needed to begin with two questions: Who is grubHub? What are they looking for in a Corporate Social Responsibility project?
From here we were able to fold in psychological theories on philanthropy and CSR initiatives currently in practice. This proved to be a harder task than we had originally thought, strictly because the client wants what they want, and most clients don’t want to spend too much money to get there. As a designer, this approach can be frustrating, but as a media psychologist, this set up an interesting challenge because we weren’t just showcasing our design skills, we were trying to get the client to understand why CSR is important and how perception can play a role in customer engagement and longevity.
Colleen Cleveland, Adam Baldowski, grubHub liaison Cat de Merode, and Monica Helms on the roof of the Chicago grubHub offices.
Our team had not only grown academically through the many research sessions and online meetings we would have, but we also grew closer as friends. Our CSR project succeeded on a professional level because grubHub implemented some of the ideas presented to them shortly after the project concluded. But the project also succeeded by showing us, and hopefully others, why Fielding and the Media Psychology program is a cut above the rest.
Yes, media was used to gather for sessions, research ideas, and present material, but media also helped bring together a team of equals who put the client and the project above the needs of the individual. Our team connected online while many of us were in other parts of the country, at home with kids, and even in the hospital, yet we never missed a beat. GrubHub is an online company that uses online tools to connect with customers—and we used online tools to connect with our client and, more importantly, with each other.
This is why I am proud of what our team accomplished. We weren’t concerned with how we would look as individuals. Instead we wanted to create a campaign for a growing company and foster a relationship for Fielding. In business, it’s all about relationships. We formed a strong personal bond within our team and a professional relationship with grubHub and our liaison. We hope that others after us will work on future CSR projects to not only learn from each other but to further show that Fielding is a place where change can happen.