In December, four student PR teams presented their final projects for their COM 416 Capstone in Public Relations course, knowing that their school work could make a significant difference in the lives of many Oswego County residents.
That’s because the students completed research, developed goals, wrote and designed marketing and training materials, established timelines, created assessment tools and defined the timeline for a public relations campaign for Oswego County Opportunities Inc.
Betsy Ryther Copps ’82, Oswego County Opportunity’s director of information and compliance, met with students throughout the semester and explained the services provided by OCO, including crisis and development, education, health, nutrition, residential and transportation services.
During their final presentations, the student teams shared ideas about how the nonprofit organization could better engage with its employees, consumers and donors through targeted PR campaigns.
Kaylee May ’15 said the capstone course required a lot of work outside of class—including several meetings with consumers, employees and other stakeholders throughout the county. But the extra work provided bigger returns than other courses.
Her team’s 135-page proposal encapsulated a semester’s worth of work and provides Copps with some well-researched suggestions and out-of-the-box materials that can be implemented immediately.
“This was very hands-on learning,” May said. “We had an actual client and our classwork was for real. It could actually make a difference.”
The students presented to Copps all of their materials, which included press releases, pamphlets, newsletters, postcards, social media campaigns and supportive materials, evaluation surveys and timelines.
Copps said she was pleased with the work the student teams had done.
“You make me want to cry,” she told the students. “You all really seemed to understand our organization and what we are trying to accomplish. The timing of your work couldn’t be better. We’re excited about what the future holds for us.”
OCO has recently received grant money and is working with Step One Creative, a professional advertising agency in Oswego, to implement a marketing plan. Step One President Shane Stepien attended the student presentations with Copps.
“We will certainly benefit from the work that the students did—especially the feedback they’ve collected from our consumers and our employees,” Copps said. “Knowing their mindset will help us engage with them better.”
Professor Sarah Bozek said the students gained valuable experience being able to work with a client from the community.
“It really has been a great class,” Bozek said. “Betsy has been a fantastic client for the students. It’s nice to have an Oswego alumna willing to work with current students.”