Students in “Public Relations Campaigns and Cases,” a senior-level capstone class for public relations, collaborated spring semester 2012 with businesses and clients from the Marion community, putting the key principles of PR to use by serving others.
“We have real clients, and the students learn how to manage relationships with their clients and collaborate together on proposals and executing plans,” said Dr. YoungAh Lee, Professor of Public Relations. “All of our clients have enjoyed working with our students.”
Lee said students must understand how communication works and be equipped to address the challenges and needs that contribute to success in PR. Understanding team dynamics is also critical. Students conduct primary research – consisting of surveys, interviews and focus groups – to obtain more practical insights in campaigning for a client. Secondary research about the industry and its target audience is also important, according to Lee.
“We do a lot of research,” said Jenn Goethel (jr). “The class is very hands-on. We’re divided into three groups, each with a different project. Every group has five to six members.”
Each student in the class takes on one of five roles: executive director, assistant to the executive director, creative, marketing & research and financial director. The three teams each have different clients: Affordable Housing, Main Street Marion and the Prevent Child Abuse Council.
“My group specifically is working for affordable housing, for the Growth Council in Marion,” Goethel said. “We generate background information– what incentives are there to encourage students to stay here and build up the community. We compile brochures for them to use, and once done, we’ll give them another proposal to help them in coming years.”
Dan Patrone (jr), the marketing director for his group, worked with the PCAC.
“We’re doing promotional material for a child abuse luncheon hosted every year, usually in April, in order to raise awareness for the council as a whole and get more people involved,” Patrone said. “That includes fliers in pizza boxes, posters in local businesses and churches and social media.”
“We’re even in charge of designing a billboard that will go up in the community,” said Patrone, adding that students are redesigning the PCAC website and creating a Facebook page for the organization.
The third group worked with Main Street Marion, “a non-profit organization whose purpose is to enhance downtown and re-energize community,” Lee said.
“Recently, they lost much: they have only one executive director now, and so our team is really critical for the director in order to help her bolster the organization,” Lee added.
“It’s been very exciting to see students realize that their talents can be used to help strengthen the community on a larger scale,” Lee said. “We talk about being world changers all the time, but we can definitely start right here. This town really needs people to give them hope. My students have skill sets and the energy to help make changes in different social issues: child abuse, downtown renovation and supporting talent here. I really enjoy watching how the students have been able to change the community.”
(reprinted by permission from The Sojourn)