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"PR Portfolio" More Than Just a Class

SOC Community Family Life Services pr portfolio event

(From left to right) CFLS' Angela Bennett, Claudia Thorne and client.

Student Andrea Lum shares her experience in Gemma Puglisi's PR Portfolio course.

At the start of the semester, professor Gemma Puglisi presented our PR Portfolio class with an inspiring and challenging client – Community Family Life Services (CFLS), a local non-profit that serves the homeless and low-income communities of Washington, D.C. We received the rare opportunity to get experience working with a real-world client and the chance to make a difference within the community that we live and go to school in. During our first client meeting, CFLS Executive Director Claudia Thorne called the organization one of D.C.’s “largest hidden secrets,” and shared her hope that we could expand their reach and reputation and help them with their communication efforts.

The project has tested all of the communication skills, concepts and theories I have been learning for the past four years. Our class of SOC seniors worked hand-in-hand with the staff of CFLS, conducting weekly meetings with the client, site visits, and email updates. Since January, we have given it a social media makeover, with a new CFLS blog, a rejuvenated Twitter account, Facebook page and YouTube account and a series of on- and off-campus events. We secured live and silent auction items for the annual gala this month and gained media coverage through on-campus and off-campus outlets.  

This class not only provided me with the opportunity to further hone and practice my public relations skills, but also allowed me to have a direct impact on the homeless community of the Washington, D.C. metro area. We did the work of a professional public relations firm, working week by week to develop a full-fledged communications strategy for an organization in need. Throughout this experience, we were guided by the supportive wisdom of professor Puglisi. As the semester finally winds down, I feel extremely fortunate to have spent an entire semester working with and learning from CFLS.

To learn more about CFLS, please visit http://www.cflsdc.org.