About Tyson Olcott Tyson Olcott is a Marketing Strategy Manager at MasterControl, a computer software company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this role, he helps manage and develop the company’s brand, both through public relations and internal communications. Before joining MasterControl in 2018, Mr. Olcott worked as Senior Communications Manager at Clearlink, and previously served as Associate Media Relations Manager for The Summit Group.
Mr. Olcott earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Westminster College in 2013. He returned to Westminster to pursue his master’s degree, graduating from their Master of Strategic Communication program in 2017.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Tyson Olcott] After graduating with a degree in communications from Westminster in 2013, I got my start at an advertising agency in downtown Salt Lake City, where I worked on public relations campaigns for both locally and nationally recognized clients. After about two years, I was approached by a local digital marketing and sales company named Clearlink where I was asked to help develop the company’s local media relations and community outreach initiatives.
After a year and a half of working on PR, internal communication, and community outreach/CSR initiatives at Clearlink, I decided that it was time to finally go back and continue my education. The Master of Strategic Communication program at Westminster intrigued me for I wanted to extend my educational journey and expand my knowledge and skill sets in rhetoric, branding, target market analytics, organizational communications, integrated marketing, and more all while working full time at Clearlink.
While enrolled in the program, my department experienced organizational restructuring that took our traditional PR roles into a more focused strategic communication approach to internal and external communication initiatives. With my degree close in hand, my role changed to focus more on internal branding initiatives, organizational communication, and targeted messaging. As the Senior Communication Manager at Clearlink, I worked closely with our branding team to ensure the newly rebranded Clearlink brand was well represented and adopted both internally and externally. One recent initiative that I am proud of during my tenure at Clearlink was improving our internal email marketing efforts to help create better insights into the types of engaging content that our employees were actually consuming. I saw a 30 percent lift in our employee engagement in the last three months of my tenure and began creating A/B testing scenarios internally to gauge the impact on consumption.
In early July 2018, I accepted a role as a Marketing Strategy Manager for a global software company called MasterControl. I took the position as the opportunity presented itself concerning my career longevity and trajectory. My roles still focus on strategic communication, rhetoric, organizational communication, and branding, but what has sparked my interest in this new role is the fact that I get to learn more in-depth strategic marketing knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to learn in my previous roles.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication?
[Tyson Olcott] I would consider myself a lifelong learner. I chose to go back to school in pursuit of a master’s degree because I wanted to expand my knowledge and exposure to the world of strategic communications. I always knew I would go back at some point to get my master’s; it just was a matter of finding the right program.
Since graduating from Westminster with a Bachelor of Arts in communications in 2013, I stayed connected with my professors while in the professional world. I knew I wanted to continue to cultivate my relationship with these professors and thus the idea of continuing my education under the guidance of some of the same professors I interacted with during my undergraduate degree seemed like a smart option.
Through the relationships and mentorships I have developed through Westminster, I was able to get feedback as to whether or not a secondary degree would benefit me and my career. What ultimately helped me make my decision to go back to school was the curriculum built into the Master of Strategic Communication program. Not only was I able to learn the theory behind rhetoric, branding, organizational communication, and integrated marketing communications, I was able to directly apply and experiment/experience my learnings first hand through my current position and the various projects built into the program. I was able to cater my learning and my degree to what I needed in order to help create a secondary degree that positioned me for future success.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of your experience completing the curriculum for this program? What key concepts did the program emphasize, and how did the five specific content areas (Rhetoric and Strategic Public Relations, Visual Communication and Brand Strategy, Organizational Communication and Culture, Integrated Marketing Communication, and Instructional Design) inform your learning outcomes? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Tyson Olcott] My experience in completing the Master of Strategic Communication program at Westminster College felt fully customized. The fact that I was able to take the specific content areas and apply them to my professional work as well as apply them with a specific client in need was phenomenal.
When entering into the program, my current employer was in the beginning stages of a large rebranding initiative. With the structure of the program focusing on rhetoric and branding in the first two-fifths of the program, I was able to directly apply my learnings to the work I was doing in my new role. That work equipped me with the tools, understanding, and knowledge I needed to take a seat at the table and help guide the strategic direction of the company’s rebranding initiatives.
After those two sequences in the program compounded into the next, organization communication and culture, I was able to focus my work internally on how rhetoric, organizational communication, structure, and culture can affect a brand for the positive. By helping build the foundation of a brand inside out, I was able to position myself for future growth which included raises and promotions.
[MastersinCommunications.com] As a student of Westminster College’s online/hybrid program format, what were your experiences interacting with course faculty and peers both in and outside of classes? What learning technologies did this program use, and were they effective in helping you feel connected to your professors and class cohort?
[Tyson Olcott] One of the many things Westminster does really well is make every student feel special. During my time at Westminster, I never felt like I was just a number. I always felt like I was an individual with individual learning styles and tactics that my professors knew and understood well. The amount of individual attention and open office hours I received really helped make the difference between my success and failure. Whether it was by email, text message, Skype, or a quick phone call to discuss individual or group projects I always felt like the faculty had my back.
As for interacting with my peers, we used a wide array of technologies to stay on task and communicate with remote members. One tool I highly recommend for a team with multiple members in various time zones is Asana. Asana is a collaboration tool that helps teams work together effortlessly. Whether we were tasked with project management, design, copywriting, or client relations our teams were able to collaborate on multiple tasks at once and have visibility and insight to deadlines, documents, visuals, and more.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Westminster College’s program is unique in that it includes a fully funded international trip during which students work collaboratively on a field project for a non-profit or other organization. Could you describe your experiences on this trip, and what learning outcomes, professional connections, and hands-on experience you gained from it?
[Tyson Olcott] My experience with the international trip was more on the unique side. I actually didn’t get to participate in the international trip to Cambodia with the rest of my cohort because I unfortunately contracted viral meningitis a week before we left for the trip. Luckily, I didn’t come down with meningitis while in Cambodia for I’m not sure how it could have turned out, but I feel as though I missed out on a large part of the program and the work done in Cambodia. While my peers were working with the local Cambodian people, I was stuck in a hospital bed. I would say this was the only disappointment I had with the program, because I didn’t get to experience the work, the culture, and the relationship development that my peers experienced.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your Corporate Training and Capstone Project? Which client did you work with, and how did you collaborate with your team of peers on a strategic communication project? How did your faculty advisor(s) support you in your research and work?
[Tyson Olcott] My team and I collaborated on a final project for a local non-profit organization called House of Hope. Our final project was a research report and presentation for the House of Hope in order to teach their small marketing team how to effectively and accurately conduct a target market analysis for further success. One area of struggle the organization had was identifying their target audience and how that audience liked to receive information regarding their services and benefits. In short, rather than conducting the target market analysis entirely for the organization, we taught the small team how to accurately conduct research and develop a target market analysis.
As for my individual capstone project, I chose the route of developing my own online portfolio. Through this process, I was tasked with developing my own brand and strategic vision for my website. Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome (www.tysonolcott.com) and feel as though this project helped me better understand the complicated world that is personal branding.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Tyson Olcott] One of the key connections that Westminster provided me with was actually after graduation. I enrolled in a small mentoring group called MasterTrack. MasterTrack is a small mentoring program brought together by two outside consultants. They pair each member within the cohort with an individual mentor in a career field of their choosing. I was paired with the Chief Marketing Officer of a software company here in the Salt Lake Valley. The relationship and mentoring I have received and continue to receive thanks to Westminster’s connections are priceless. My mentor is even the person who encouraged me to take a chance on a new career opportunity that has expanded my skills and broadened my career path for future success. I’m thankful for Westminster and the Master of Strategic Communication program for helping me get to where I am today.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it is at Westminster College or another university?
[Tyson Olcott] My advice to current MSC student would be to not let any opportunity pass you by. If you’re interested in finding a way to correlate the data and key performance metrics behind a specific communication initiative, go for it. If you can dream it, do it. The MSC program is structured in a way to support you in many ways, so take advantage of that. If you’re curious about a particular area within the communication world, find a client looking for help in that area or find a way to build that into your team project. The sky’s the limit with the MSC program, it all depends on how big you can dream.
Thank you, Mr. Olcott, for your excellent insights on Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication program!