Communication students create PR firm, partner with Habitat's Women Build

April 24, 2009

When leaders of the Habitat for Humanity Women Build in Terre Haute needed some marketing help, they contacted the communication department at Indiana State University about the possibility of an intern. Instead, they ended up with a team of students ready to tackle their promotional needs.

 

 

State Integrated Marketing Communications, State for short, is a nonprofit public relations firm made up members from ISU's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The group has taken on Habitat's Women Build as its first client.

"As a firm, we want to help our clients develop a brand and communicate it to their audiences," said Elizabeth Irwin, senior public relations major from Avon and co-president of ISU PRSSA.

The idea started in the fall of 2007 after PRSSA members returned from a conference where they heard success stories about similar firms at other colleges and universities. Many of the students were already familiar with the idea, thanks to a class assignment by communication professor Deb Worley. The students were asked to create a marketing campaign for a mock company called Worley and Associates.

"We wanted to make Worley and Associates a reality," Irwin said.

Group members spent time brainstorming ideas for the firm and establishing a brand.

"We knew if we had a brand first, we could better market ourselves. We really want to make a statement about who we are and what we can do for clients," said Marcus Andrews, senior public relations major from Elkhart and PRSSA co-president.

State offers a variety of public relations services to campus organizations and departments, as well as the community, including advertising and special event planning.

The group started working with the Habitat Women Build, a volunteer program for women designed to teach construction skills through the building of homes and communities, this spring and will continue to assist in marketing efforts during the summer. Women Build coordinator Reanda Kirchner is excited about partnering with the students.

"I am looking forward to their fresh, new ideas and approaches," she said.

State's first project for Women Build was to create a press release and flyers for a fundraiser. In addition to traditional marketing techniques, the students are working on taking advantage of social media, including Web sites like Facebook, to reach a wide demographic.

"With social networking sites, event promotion is so much different now than it used to be," Kirchner said. "You can reach a huge audience with the click of a button."

Since this is the group's first client, State is not charging the Women Build for services. Members will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the project and use it as a learning experience.

"The overall goal of this project is of course to raise awareness for Women Build. But we also want to see how well we work as a group and what changes we need to make before next semester as we start to take on more clients," Irwin said.

"We want to establish ourselves as a professional agency, even though we're students," Andrews added. "Our clients are our top priority, but we as students also need to benefit. It's a win-win for everybody really."

State currently has 10 members and is open to students from all majors. Organizers are working to increase membership as they take on more clients.

"Hopefully State will spread across campus and become a well known part of ISU," Irwin said.

For more information about State, email Amanda Williams, awilliams44@indstate.edu, or Joseph Little, jlittle12@indstate.edu. More than 1,400 official Women Builds have been completed since 1998. More information about the national program is available online. To learn more about the Terre Haute Women Build, contact Kirchner at 812-841-1880 or by e-mail at reconstructionservices@gmail.com.

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Contact: Deb Worley, professor of communication and public relations program coordinator, Indiana State University, 812-237-8882 or dworley1@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or etaylor16@indstate.edu

 

Story Highlights

When leaders of the Habitat for Humanity Women Build in Terre Haute needed some marketing help, they contacted the communication department at ISU about the possibility of an intern. Instead, they ended up with a team of students ready to tackle their promotional needs.

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