By: Dominique Becnel

Though it seems like just yesterday that the Elevate team met with Charles Guillory, the area team leader for Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana (CASOL), for the first time, it is time to wrap up our campaign and the fall semester. We look forward to presenting all of our research findings and recommendations to our Manship 4005 class, Dr. Moore and the CASOL team this week. We also look forward to seeing how awareness and funding for CASOL increases in the upcoming year.

Through our service-learning public relations campaigns course this semester, we have gained invaluable experience in the following areas: public relations research, event planning, design, evaluation and public relations writing.

Public Relations Research. We created our primary and evaluation research instruments via Qualtrics, applying concepts from our public relations research class. After conducting our research, we analyzed the results and presented them to the client and our class. The Elevate team brainstormed ways to increase awareness, increase funding and differentiate CASOL from other branches of the Special Olympics organization. These were all issues that we identified in our initial survey. In addition, we were also able to identify our target audience. We created an infographic of “Maggie” to establish a visual representation and reinforce to our client who are target audience is.

Maggie1
Image attributed to Jasper Cicero

Event Planning. On Sunday, November 15, Elevate teamed up with Gateway Communications and Thrive PR to host Raise the Roof, an event benefitting CASOL, Big Buddy Program and Youth Oasis. This kickoff event took place at Tin Roof Brewery and featured local food trucks, outdoor games, Tin Roof beer and a silent auction. Maria Fournier, Elevate’s event director, evaluated Raise the Roof as successful, estimating around $3,500 in profits to CASOL from this event. CASOL plans to use the funds from Raise the Roof towards its December area bowling tournament. The cost of the event, which is held over three days, is in excess of $3,500.

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Image attributed to Victoria Freeman

Design. Our design director, Jasper Cicero, created an infographic, detailing the results of our primary research. He also created a new logo unique to CASOL to be used on all promotional material and social media. In addition, he created a new brochure specific to CASOL. The brochure includes a donation card that can be easily cut out and mailed directly to CASOL. The brochure includes CASOL’s new slogan, “what we raise here, stays here.”

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Image attributed to Jasper Cicero

Evaluation. Liz Hilton, Elevate’s strategy director, critically evaluated CASOL’s communication efforts and determined that CASOL would benefit from a completed social media content calendar for the upcoming year. In addition, she created a content calendar for posts on CASOL’s Facebook and Instagram in the weeks and days leading up to Raise the Roof. Most importantly, Liz developed CASOL’s new slogan, “what we raise here, stays here,” to reinforce where donations to CASOL go.

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Image attributed to Liz Hilton

Public Relations Writing. This experience has given the Elevate team the opportunity to perfect our AP style writing skills. Elevate’s writing director, Bianca Smith, developed a media kit for CASOL that includes a press release template, CASOL fact sheet, media advisory, CASOL history and ready-to-use photos with captions. This media kit will allow CASOL to streamline communication more easily in the future.

Most importantly, we have gained an enhanced sense of civic responsibility through our service-learning experience. We have kept the PRSA member statement of professional values at the forefront of our minds, focusing on being advocates for our client. This semester we have represented CASOL, serving the public interest while keeping our client’s best interest in mind.

Service-learning has allowed us to act as public relations professionals this semester and see how our work has benefited a local nonprofit organization. Youth.gov lists some of the following benefits to participants of service-learning: builds character, increases responsible behavior, improves academic outcomes, promotes a connection between school and community, and improves one’s ability to set and achieve goals. At Elevate, we believe we have received all of those benefits and more.

This week we created a video blog to share our experience working with CASOL this semester. Our video blog will give you a chance to hear from the entire Elevate team. Please visit the following YouTube address to view Elevate’s video blog: https://www.youtube.com/edit?action_reinstate=1 

Works Cited

Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2007). Benefits of community-based service-learning. Scotts Valley, CA: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse. Retrieved from https://www.nationalserviceresources.gov/benefits-community-based-service-learning.

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2015.

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