We could tell early on that it was going to be a different experience than a traditional class. This class gave the opportunity for our professor to group us based on our strengths, interests, and group compatibility. Jumping into a class like that felt awesome, so we hit the ground running.
The class started with presentations from our agency partner, Fahlgren Mortine, with whom we would be partnering, and a presentation from our client, Community Shelter Board. For the first few weeks we learned from professionals about their specific roles at Fahlgren Mortine and they taught us how their jobs intertwined to complete a campaign. We presented our preliminary ideas to Fahlgren Mortine and then worked on the planning stages until it was time to present to the client. Then we spent the rest of the semester creating content, editing, presenting, and editing some more. My group had a focus on the Community Shelter Board’s social media. So together, our group created a short video, interactive content, and an eight-week content calendar.
We still had lectures like a normal class would, but our lectures were presented by professionals currently working at Fahlgren Mortine. We were able to get a glimpse into the innerworkings of a PR agency and into a professional’s day-to-day work. Lectures in our immersion class were coming from a person who we were aspiring to be in a few years, and it gave us an opportunity to hear from them and also ask for advice.
As PR students, class presentations are our bread and butter, but presenting our ideas and work in front of our agency partners and our client, Community Shelter Board, was both nervewracking and exciting. We learned to receive and use constructive criticism much more frequently, and adapted to the communication styles of both our agency partner and our client.
There was another layer of importance, too. We worked extra hard knowing that the content we produced could potentially help an underserved and vulnerable community. Youth facing homelessness is an issue that hit home for us. As students, we could not imagine facing something so difficult at our age, and yet it was a huge issue facing the community we lived in. It was so hard to believe that we lived in what seemed like such a prosperous community and yet there were children without a place to stay at night. When we realized that our work could help such a great need, the class became much more serious.
It was one of those cool instances where every adult you meet treats you not only like an adult, but like a colleague. When we presented to the agency, we were getting feedback that we would use to make our work much stronger. Then suddenly we were working on a project that could help people. When we presented in front of the Community Shelter Board, it wasn’t about our objectives, it was more about whether our work could be helpful. We weren’t just making social media content and planning an event. We were raising awareness for a huge need in our community. That was really what ended up making this project special.
Professors love to say that your classwork is important in the grand scheme of things, but this was one of the first times we actually got that feeling. This class gave us the opportunity to work with other talented students in a way that would affect the world.
It feels incredible to have this class recognized by PRSA (with the PRism Award). This class experience was especially impactful for us, the students, and it makes it even more special to have the PRSA community recognize this creative collaboration. This class gave us an opportunity to practice in the PR community before graduation, and I’m grateful to have had this experience. I hope this will set a precedent for other colleges to create interactive opportunities like this for college students.