“It’s important/beneficial for UC students to collaborate with [community] organizations because both parties can benefit. With my experience and tenure at Total Quality Logistics (TQL), I could provide the Civic Garden Center (CGC) with our marketing team so they can set up these volunteer opportunities. TQL is a company that I know firsthand loves to give back. My hopes for the CGC are that they do grow their volunteer and donations base with young professionals and I hope TQL can be a part of that community.” Samantha Clark, student
Every semester, UC’s Department of Communication offers multiple sections of a class entitled “Public Relations Campaigns.” This class is a final requirement for graduating public relations certificate undergraduates. Each class invites up to five community organizations to be semester-long clients. After meeting with clients the first week of the semester, students form groups to serve the clients for the duration of the semester. Each client has a dedicated group of five or six students, and those students spend their semester researching their client and its market. Then, each student group crafts a strategic communication plan for their client. At the end of the term, groups make formal presentations to their clients. In the process, the students learn about applied research, strategic planning, collateral creation, and persuasive pitching to clients.
In the years I have taught this course, my students have served dozens of local non-profits, start-ups, and small businesses. Over the course of the past year, The Cincinnati Project has connected me with several clients. Those clients include Churches Active in Northside’s Rainbow Choice Food Pantry, the Civic Garden Center, the Community Police Partnering Center, Holly Hill Children’s Services, New Life Furniture Bank, the YWCA LGBTQ Task Force, and the YWCA Anti-Violence Program.
With each project, my students and I have the privilege and challenge of learning all about the community partner’s organization, situation, marketplace, and communication challenges. This is an eye-opening experience for students, since it requires them to understand unfamiliar organizations and marketplaces. After doing original research for their client, students have to generate a comprehensive, integrated communication plan for their client. This plan may center on rebranding, building stronger organization-stakeholder relations, updating the organization’s social media presence, distinguishing the organization from its competition, raising community awareness of the organization, and more.
“It’s important for UC students to collaborate with community organizations because it makes the students well versed in the types of organizations that are affecting the community and it also gives them an idea of where they might want to work after graduation. My hopes for the Civic Garden Center are that they take some of our ideas, like the content calendar, and implement them into their company. I also hope that through all of these new implementations they in turn get more volunteers and more donations coming into the organization.” Abby Fordham, student
Although this is a challenging project for students, it leaves them proud of how relevant their skills are. It is also something the Department of Communication is proud of, since experiential learning and community engagement are central to our mission and identity. We are committed to equipping our students to serve the local community upon graduation. Working with The Cincinnati Project has been, and continues to be, a great way for us to stay connected to our community!
“This class was the most informative class for my future career. I’m currently working for an internship and I used what I learned in this class, towards my internship and talked about this class also for a job interview. This class helped me to truly understand what goes into a PR campaign and the steps you need to take in order to reach your end goal.” Ryan Ritze, student