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PR Class Works on National Initiative

By Michael Wargo

SOC PR class presentation

Students present their proposal to representatives of America's Promise Alliance.

Professor Pallavi Kumar’s Public Relations Portfolio students could impact the success of an education initiative supported by General Colin Powell and President Barack Obama. The class was tasked with creating a launch plan for Grad Nation, an initiative of America’s Promise Alliance.

Four teams of students developed strategic plans with toolkits designed to provide the Alliance with the resources needed to successfully launch Grad Nation in eight target cities. The events ranged from pizza parties to marathon walks with a message to stay in school.

Student Lauren Walens said that having the Alliance as a client was not only great real-world experience; it also felt good to contribute to a non-profit that is doing incredible work. “We worked hard to create a plan that could actually be implemented in target communities of the Alliance at low cost,” she said. 

Kumar said she’s very proud of her class and the hard work they’ve done. Because the Public Relations Portfolio class is often the last class that Public Communication majors take, she always tries to have students work on a real-world project so that they can experience what it is like to have an actual client. 

“We met with the senior communications team at their offices in early January to hear about their expectations and goals for the launch of Grad Nation,” she said.  “From there, each group worked throughout the semester to develop strategic plans that included messaging, key influencer profilers, media materials and social media strategies.” 

At the end of the semester, representatives from the Alliance attended the class and listened to each presentation and then chose the one they’d want to implement into their own future plans. 

Student Vered Shpigel, who helped shape the winning proposal, said it was very exciting to work on the project. “We thought about each idea and how it would work if it was actually being implemented. We were grounded with a real budget and had to discuss logistics that were feasible,” she said. 

Walens appreciated being able to present to a panel from the Alliance, just as professionals would do when vying for a chance to work for a client. “I learned what it would be like to pitch a client for new business, and the types of questions I might be asked during a presentation.” 

Kumar said the end result was fantastic.  “Each "firm" can be proud that they produced outstanding, high caliber work that will actually be used to help such a worthwhile organization reach their goals.” 

David Park, Senior Vice President of Communications & Marketing for the Alliance, said it was a tough decision picking a winner, and that all of the representatives were very impressed with the students’ work. “It’s going to be exciting taking these home and looking at them in more detail and thinking about how we can possibly incorporate some of this into our local strategies,” he said.