Students bring lessons to life for area nonprofits

May 10, 2017

Student Jamie Paolucci ’17 presents a proposal to the Chamber of Commerce as part of a year-end project

A semester’s worth of work and research for five student groups in Professor Katie Place’s public relations campaigns class culminated with presentations last week that will likely lead to real change in the lives of area residents.

As their course’s final project, each group pitched strategic proposals they had developed to representatives from The Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce, and Sunshine Kids, a nonprofit organization that offers activities, trips and events for young cancer patients.

The proposals touched upon numerous ways for each to increase public exposure, from brand identity refreshes to increasing engagement via public events, partnerships and email marketing campaigns. Two winning groups will be selected, and their strategies used by each organization in the coming year.

While each presentation was unique, the importance of digital solutions — such as deploying more user-friendly websites and targeted social media campaigns — was an undercurrent uniting all of them.

“Social media is social by nature,” said public relations major Madeleine Harder ’17. “If you engage with your followers and with your public, they will engage with you.”

Harder’s message resonated particularly with Sunshine Kids Regional Director Brooks Tomb, who admitted that his organization hasn’t fully embraced 21st century social media marketing strategies.

“We knew we needed to do more for a while now,” Tomb said. “We had a feeling, but these guys proved it.”

Tomb was excited about many of the ideas presented to him, particularly utilizing daily hashtags with inspirational or motivational themes to target Millennials, who are reached primarily through social media and prefer to donate to causes digitally.

“I honestly never thought about Millennials as potentially being big donors for us,” Tomb admitted. “Now we know that all media we put out there must be consistent and emotionally impactful.”

Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Rescigno said he was impressed with each student’s creativity, professionalism and poise, indicating that the door could be open for possible future internship placement with the Chamber of Commerce.

“From my perspective, none of these kids seemed nervous at all,” Rescigno said. “They were so incredibly well-organized. We are definitely interested in continuing this partnership.”

In the end, the project was exactly what Place had envisioned for her students — an opportunity for them to apply the skills and knowledge they’d been building all semester, and step into the roles of real consultants.

“This is such a win-win kind of opportunity for them,” Place said. “In turn, the community learns about Quinnipiac, and we get to forge great partnerships. 

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