Because of the constant development of media and communication, the knowledge and experience needed to work in these fields changes with every technological advancement.
This is why Assistant Professor of Communication Alan Buck joined forces with Department Head Teresa Holder to provide more hands-on and client-based experiences for communication students to learn through coursework.
“By working on community-based learning projects with real-world clients, students not only gain experience with the latest media trends, but they also learn how to develop professional relationships and how to effectively manage client expectations,” said Buck.
These community-based learning projects took place in two communication courses taught by Buck this fall – Digital Media Convergence and PR Cases and Campaigns – both of which are required to complete the public relations concentration.
In the Digital Media class, students partnered with the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) to produce instructional and promotional videos for the launch of the new Residency Determination Service (RDS).
This opportunity came by way of Meredith alumna Shannon Byers, ’99, the program manager of RDS. “This partnership has given us the chance to showcase what Meredith students can do and, at the same time, build a great product together,” said Byers.
Students presented their completed videos to Buck and visiting faculty members last week. For their course final this week, they are required to visit CFNC and present their videos to Byers as well as the vice president of the organization.
“While I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge in the classroom, I feel the skills that I have learned by working in the field will transfer better to my future career,” said communication major Kelsie Taylor, ’18.
Once approved, these videos will be seen by every high school senior in the state.
“This is not only great publicity for Meredith’s communication department, but the video and editing experience will make these students more competitive when applying for jobs and internships in the future,” said Buck.
For PR Cases and Campaigns, students were tasked with finding a small business or nonprofit in need of support with brand development or public relations. After finding a suitable client, students communicated with them frequently to help meet their needs. These projects were also presented last week, with many of the clients in attendance.
For many of the communication majors in the class, the project came naturally because they felt passionate about the work they were doing. This was the case for Nikki Bell, ’18, who plans to use the skills and portfolio pieces gained from this project to begin her career at a PR agency one day.
“I am specifically interested in working with small startup companies and nonprofits to help them gain recognition and to strengthen their brand image,” said Bell. She completely recreated the website of a nonprofit located in Holly Springs, N.C., known as 3 Irish Jewels Farm (3IJF).Three representatives from 3IJF were in attendance for the presentation, one of whom noted how much they appreciated Bell’s work and professionalism.
Communication and dance studies major Sierra Smith, ’18, also took advantage of the opportunity to support a cause she felt passionate about by working for a study abroad program known as the International Young Artists Project. “As a student and strong supporter of the arts, I feel very passionately about the mission and values of this organization,” Smith said, “so being able to help them out was extremely rewarding.”
Other clients that students partnered with for their projects include a handcrafted furniture business known as Barn & Ivy and a local nonprofit known as The Carying Place. More than half of the clients were in attendance for the final presentations and those who were unable to make it to campus listened via video chat.
Buck plans to continue with this learning model for these classes in the future and hopes that applicable job skills will be one of the major course outcomes.
“Going to meetings, answering emails, dealing with different personalities – these skills not only need to be learned but practiced in order to be successful in the field of communication,” he said.
By Cailyn Clymore, ’18