In her Principles of Public Relations (or as she calls it “Mini-PR”) class and her Writing for Marketing class, Department of Marketing Communication Assistant Professor Julie Lellis gives her students more than just homework. She puts them to work in the real world.
Lellis works with Suzanne Hinton, associate director of Emerson's Office of Service Learning and Community Action, to develop partnerships with businesses and organizations in the Boston community. Hinton and Lellis collaborate with representatives of the organizations to develop opportunities for students to practice the skills they learn in class, and develop new skills, in a real-world setting.
“It makes the students a part of something bigger than Emerson,” Lellis said, who feels the public relations and marketing skills the students learn assist the nonprofit organizations in communicating strategically. “For Emerson to be a civically engaged institution, we need to be part of something larger than ourselves.”
The students are matched with a client and, as part of the class, are required to volunteer on-site 20 hours a semester. Lellis has 16 nonprofit clients for her Writing for Marketing class and 5 for-profit clients for her Principles of Public Relations class. In the public relations class, students devise a “mini-plan” for their clients, outlining potential public relations strategies and tactics. In the writing class, students create marketing initiatives, conduct SWOT analysis, and pen advertising scripts.
Lellis says most of the in-class exercises are based around the work the students are doing for their clients. “The clients walk away with anywhere from 8 to 10 mini-PR plans they can use,” Lellis said. The mini-PR plans are professional reports that include publicity goals, objectives, success measurement, and a PR development guide.
Marissa Kelley '12, a student in Lellis's Writing for Marketing class, said she was initially nervous going to the office of her client, Teen Voices, a nonprofit magazine written for teen girls and located in downtown Boston. “As soon as I started working for them I realized what an amazing opportunity it was. I am simultaneously getting real-world experience, building my portfolio, and volunteering for a great organization. It's amazing.”
“I knew Emerson offered networking opportunities and I was going to be able to make contacts in the industry,” Kelley continued. “But I didn't realize I would be able to get that in a class that fits right into my daily routine.”