The Coopr Academy practical honours programme provides 12 selected IBCoM and Master Media students from Erasmus University Rotterdam the opportunity to partake in eight interactive public relations-based masterclasses with specialists from Coopr, an agency at the forefront of the PR operations in the Benelux area. These sessions promise to give us invaluable insights into the workings of a state-of-the-art PR, social media, and digital communications agency. Furthermore, what’s exciting is that this programme culminates in the students pitching campaign ideas to a jury of clients. Two years ago, students pitched ideas to MTV, last year it was Warsteiner Beer, and this time it’s Lexa.nl, the most popular dating site in The Netherlands! But more on that later.
While walking through Coopr’s office for the very first time on February 8th for our first session, my attention was drawn to the smattering of memorabilia, merchandise, and thank-yous from Netflix, OnePlus, Warner Brothers, the Coca Cola Company, and MTV – all happy clients of Coopr. While I was admittedly left starstruck by the sheer size and global reach of Coopr’s clientele, it was also very heartening to notice how evidently happy their clients were with their work. Right as I walked into the common room where our first session was due to take place, it dawned on me that we were going to be learning from specialists who work closely with companies I envision myself working with in the future. What a cool opportunity! I felt this was a good mindset to walk into my first Coopr Academy session with.
On the back of a flavourful spread of popular Indonesian cuisine, we were introduced to the Coopr Academy by Shelley Dewell and Marcel Withoos, both of whom are Consultants at Coopr. Having been asked to create mood boards about ourselves, both Shelley and Marcel introduced themselves via their own moodboards. It was fascinating to see how important solid interpersonal communication skills are a necessity in the PR industry, as evidenced by how effectively both Shelley and Marcel were able to convey their speeches about Coopr, the public relations industry, and Coopr’s own PR model. We were next asked to try our hand at introducing ourselves through our own mood boards – one thing I could not help but notice was that despite how different each person’s mood board was from the others, there were quite a few common factors and themes. I noticed that most of us believed that we were creative, loved to travel, eat, and took interest in aesthetics and popular culture. Coincidence? I think not.
Marcel and Shelley, while emphasizing the company culture and PR model at Coopr, mentioned that an important parameter for Coopr to bring a new client on-board is if they can relax and have a beer with them. Having previously worked at media agencies where the marriage between client and agency was just one of convenience, this was a refreshing change for me. Further, I believe that a strong client-agency relationship can do wonders to creativity and innovation. To hear that exactly this was a core part of Coopr’s philosophy made me even excited to get started with work on this opportunity.
We didn’t have to wait too long as we were then introduced to the brand we would be working on: Lexa.nl, which is part of the largest network of dating sites in Europe. The brief was delivered by Roelijne Peters, who was part of the marketing team at Lexa.nl. The brief – comprehensive as ever – provided us with some important limiting factors, but more importantly, provided the groundwork for months of creativity. I realised that the chance to present an integrated PR proposal for a dating website of the size of Lexa.nl was one that would provide us with the ability to change the narrative around dating applications and further, shape conversations about online dating amongst those in their thirties. Not your everyday opportunity, I must say! I found myself wandering off into the endless possibilities for such an integrated PR and marketing campaign even before the brief concluded, clearly excited for the road ahead.
The end note of this eventful and exciting evening was a casual round of beer and wine, which gave us the opportunity to get to know our group members and consultant better. Seeing the wealth of information that was given to us by Marcel and Shelley, and then Reolijne, there was much to discuss and ideate over – it was also pretty cool to be surrounded by similarly creative and inspired individuals who are hoping to make mark in the PR field. I hope that this healthy competition, along with the tutelage of those at Coopr, and the illustrious opportunity with Lexa.nl, provides me with the ability to do the same over the coming eight weeks!