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On May 6, public relations students met with the city government at the Zion-Benton High School t...

In the spring semester of each year, students in the Public Relations Campaigns class, taught by Professor Colleen Palmer, work with a nonprofit that has a specific need and develop a campaign from the ground up for the organization.

“It’s kind of like a capstone project,” Prof. Palmer says.

Last summer, Prof. Palmer was approached by the City of Zion, Ill. They have a long-held negative image in their town — one of crime and being downtrodden. However, the government officials there are working on ways to improve their public image and work alongside citizens to build pride in their town. Over the semester, city officials met with Carthage students in the classroom and on a bus tour.

“They have so much more to offer than we knew,” says Nina Werger ’24, PR major.

After discussing ideas with the city government and getting to know them and their goals, the PR students in this class came up with an overall objective to “increase, modernize, and centralize communication.” They developed three main strategies to make this happen: develop two-way communication, engage residents, and fill the media void; and a dozen tactics that can be applied to put this campaign into action.

On May 6, the students met with the city government at the Zion-Benton High School to present their research and plan. “There were more people there than we imagined,” says Prof. Palmer, “and the students did a fantastic and professional job!” In fact, the superintendent of schools approached Prof. Palmer afterward, saying how impressed she was by the students, their composure, their ideas, and their presence.

“City officials have reached out since May 6 to tell me that they are excited to implement our campaign and will discuss it at upcoming leadership meetings! They were receptive to our ideas and plan, and they were excited to see a new way forward in meeting their goal,” says Prof. Palmer.

Sponsoring Department, Office, or Organization:

Communication and Digital Media Department