Taking the Lead

Taking the Lead

Students create an arts marketing campaign under the guidance of an industry veteran.

Entertainment industry veteran David Brooks P’23 has worked on iconic projects like Squid Game, Ozark, and Good Will Hunting. But for his latest project—an experiential course called ‘The Art of Persuasion’—the crew he directed was a group of 16 Govs seniors who swapped textbooks for a chance to create the marketing plan for the Governor’s art department and its spring 2023 lineup.

“I really wanted students to understand how an overall campaign is put together and the extensive thought, research, and intentionality behind every tactic implemented,” Brooks says of his idea for the course. “They gained hands-on technical experience, but also learned how to manage deadlines, communicate, be accountable—and maybe even discovered a new skill they didn’t realize they had.”

Brooks leveraged over 30 years of experience to create an entertainment industry culture in the classroom. The first assignment was an overall brand campaign to announce and promote the spring arts lineup, with students getting a taste of design, editing, photography and videography, public relations (PR), social media, and project management. 

When it came time to build and launch campaigns for each of the ten spring arts events in theater, music, visual arts, and dance, students applied for specific roles. Patrick Manswell ’23 led one of the PR teams; their press release for the Govs arts series was published in the Newburyport Daily News.

“Each person used their talents to contribute to the success of the project,” recalls Manswell, who plans to study marketing at Trinity College. “We worked collaboratively, and it was great to see everyone’s strengths and skills come together.”

And Manswell found another unexpected lesson. “Mr. Brooks’s teaching style gave us a lot of freedom to take the lead in our projects. It helped me gain confidence and develop my leadership skills. I definitely preferred working on a real project because it gave me a chance to apply what I learned.”

Brooks first pitched “The Art of Persuasion” to Academic Dean Karen Gold P’11,’17 and says, “She was a champion of the idea from the start.”

It’s no surprise, given that Gold enjoys getting creative with the curriculum. “I’m always thinking about the twenty-first-century educational experience, what kind of real-life experiences we can give our students to apply the Seven Essential Skills—like collaboration, communication, and critical thinking—that we value at Govs.”

Though the course is a full-year English elective, Brooks is excited about the cross-disciplinary aspect. “The class touches on so many skills; it was intentionally designed to provide a dynamic mix that touches on writing, design, media, and finance in a fun, applicable, team-oriented way.” 

Arts Department Chair Paul Wann P’94 was impressed as students delivered engaging content. “Their work is excellent. The whole endeavor was positive and real for the students, who had to attempt to influence the community with their communication.”

The inaugural course was so popular that Brooks is again offering a course called "The Art of Strategic Storytelling," focused on building marketing campaigns to promote athletics as well as arts. "‘The Art of Persuasion’ really energized our whole community,” Gold says. “I’m excited to see what the class produces this year.”