At Louisiana State University, service-learning is defined as “students partner[ing] with nonprofit community group for hands-on experience in service projects related to course content” by the Center for Community Engagement.
“Service learning enriches students’ ‘appreciation and understanding of the interests of stakeholders and the importance of social responsibility’ – a fundamental principle of public relations,” writes Audrey Wilson Allison in “A best practices service learning framework for the Public Relations Campaigns course.” By applying our talents, abilities and past public relations experience, our team at Elevate Communications will be able to provide beneficial materials to our client that will ultimately benefit those in our community.
Here at Elevate Communications, we have officially launched into our public relations campaign with the Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL). Over the past couple of weeks, our team has brainstormed potential client deliverables, begun audience and awareness research, and met with our client to discuss the campaign with more detail.
For the next twelve weeks, we will be working with CASOL on a public relations campaign that increases awareness, acceptance and action of and for their brand therefore utilizing the concepts of service-learning. As a nonprofit, fundraising is crucial for CASOL, as all of the money they raise goes toward putting on Special Olympics events.
In an article by Tonya Garcia in PRNewser, she states that solid communication is key for nonprofits in order to be highly visible in their communities. Although funds are a major driving factor, we want the capital area of Louisiana to not only become aware of this organization, but accept its message and take action to support it.
We understand that we’ve been entrusted with a massive task, and we want to ensure that we offer the proper kind of work. What we’ve kept in mind thus far is that this is a service-learning project, not community service, and not civic engagement. In “5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting a PR Campaign” by PR practitioner Steve Cody, he states that one thing strategic communicators can’t forget is that it’s not about “you.”
Community service is voluntary work intended to benefit people of a specific area. Meanwhile, civic engagement can be defined as getting the public involved with civic responsibility. While both of these concepts are crucial elements of service-learning, there is a clear distinction.
Service-learning benefits those within the capital area, as does community service, and pushes a call to action to support the organization as in civic engagement, but utilizes tactics found within coursework.
While community service and civic engagement can be two-sided activities, more often than not, one party reaps the true benefit in service-learning. Since our service starts in the classroom, we and our client will both receive the benefits from this public relations campaign. As a small team of five people, we expect that each of our directors will gain valuable, hands-on experience throughout the rest of the course. Whether it’s from creating a strategy for the campaign, to writing a press release, to designing a flyer, we know our work will be used for a greater good.
At Elevate, we hope our passion for excellence translates into both our final products and the work that goes into the campaign as a whole. We are applying our expertise in public relations research, social media strategies and traditional public relations techniques to help fundraise and spread awareness of our clients’ mission and purpose.
Blog by: Maria Fournier
Alison, Audrey. “A Best Practices Service Learning Framework for the Public Relations Campaigns Course.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 8.3 (2008): 50-60. Print.
Garcia, Tonya. “Five Best Practices for Nonprofit PR Programs.” PR News and Research. Adweek.com, 1 June 2012. Web. <http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/five-best-practices-for-nonprofit-pr-programs/39989>.
Cody, S. (2014). 5 things you need to know before starting a PR campaign.