Having taught the new CIM Emerging Themes unit course twice now, I thought I would share with you the insights I have learned from our candidates who achieved ‘A’ grades and those who did not.
- COMMITMENT – this unit cannot be taken lightly. Our better candidates invested over 100 hours on the assignment. Those who turned their attention to the task with less than a month to submission struggled.
- YOUR JOURNEY – For some candidates this task literally changed their lives. Indeed one started up a new business off the back of her assignment research. The Macro and Meso themes you start with are very unlikely to be those you end up with, so you need to give yourself as much time as possible to do the necessary reading and research.
- PLAN – The best candidates made sure they had developed clear plans before they even considered writing up. Weaker candidates always want to commit to their word processors before fully thinking through their arguments. We have developed a detailed process for creating effective Outline Plans which the more open-minded candidates have embraced with great success.
- CHOICE of PUBLICATION – It is crucial you do your homework here. Identify the Editorial style and policy by contacting each of your short list of titles. Some candidates obtained Media Packs by posing as potential advertisers, although the title’s websites should provide much of this information. It amazed me that despite clear instructions in the brief to justify the chosen title why some candidates chose almost to ignore this section.
- CLARITY of ARGUMENTS – Our better candidates clearly identified their two themes, used robust, referenced sources and were able to paint a clear picture as to the synergistic effect of the two themes colliding. Not only must the themes be clear, they must be distinct and separate and MUST be emerging. That means, new, emerging & contemporary. It is no good to simply discuss an old issue such as ‘Institutional inertia’.
- YOUR ISSUES – Explain why these two issues are of concern to the industry (size, value, effect on growth, competitive issues(Global perhaps?), value, cost, benefits to customers). Also explain what will happen to the Industry and its participants (Implications) as a result of these issues and how can the sector improve their performance and by what strategy?
- CONTENT – Remember this is an Industry wide piece, not about one or two players. Do NOT just yse your organisation, as a ‘Case study’ goes against this idea.
- PRESENTATION – some weaker candidates wasted time trying to make their copy literally look like the target publication. This is an unnecessary and distracting waste of effort.
- NAVIGATION – The better candidates used clear, simple headings and sub-headings that directly reflected the key words in each task. The old adage of making life easy for your customer (i.e. the CIM examiner here) holds as ever true here.
- REFERENCING – this has proved to a very controversial area as there is an inherent compromise in the brief. Whilst the editors of most industry trade journals would raise their eyebrows at a submitted article carrying full Harvard referencing, for CIM purposes this discipline is crucial. Ultimately the CIM are looking for academic rigour, so regardless of personal preferences (I far prefer footnotes), you should follow the Harvard guidelines to the letter.
- STYLE – Another area of compromise is writing style. Although the brief suggests you need to write in an appropriate style for your chosen publication, it is unlikely the examiner will be familiar most chosen publications. e.g. We had candidates choosing titles varying from football industry trade newspapers to obscure pharmaceutical journals. Therefore we recommend that your writing style errs on the drier, academic side rather than trying to be too clever.
- TUTOR SUPPORT – the better students made full and effective use of their support tutor. I was surprised that the weaker candidates thought they could submit to the CIM without receiving detailed feedback on a draft submission from their tutor. We spend a great deal of time recruiting and training our support tutors, so not to tap into their expertise seemed foolhardy to say the least.
With social media sites alive with disgruntled CIM students who have failed this unit, we have developed a special one to one support service to provide help should you need it.