GVSU brings PR program to students

Chapter produces videos for students that teachers can use in virtual classrooms.
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GVSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America Courtesy GVSU

Grand Valley State University students and alums are going the extra mile to ensure the school’s tradition of helping high schoolers to navigate the public relations industry continues.

Sixteen members of GVSU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (GVPRSSA) decided to launch a virtual learning library with individual videos of each member discussing a variety of topics, such as careers in public relations, networking tips, starting at a university with an undecided major and about GVPRSSA’s student-run public relations firm. The videos are posted on the chapter’s YouTube page.

Delaney MacKenzie, communications associate for 8THIRTYFOUR and former chapter president of GVPSSA, said they were mulling over the idea of creating video content, but the COVID-19 pandemic quickly expedited that process.

“We had been discussing introducing more video content this year because it attracts more attention online,” she said. “People love quick, clickable content. It is more eye-catching and more routine information. This (pandemic) ballooned the idea that we have been playing with during the school year. I don’t think we would have done this if it weren’t for the given circumstances, so we wanted to (address) this situation and this transition for teachers and students from all over. This is also content that is useful for people outside of the West Michigan area.”

In years past, members of GVPRSSA would visit high schools in West Michigan for in-person outreach and form relationships with students. Some members would visit their former high schools and introduce them to the public relations industry. However, without that ability this year, they made videos and sent them to teachers so they can incorporate it into their curriculum. The chapter reached out to approximately 15 local high schools.

“We did reach out to a lot of teachers who are teaching business and elective classes, so I assume any student is able to watch the videos, anyone from sophomores to seniors,” said Allison Canter, GVSU senior and president of GVPRSSA. “A lot of us invited any high school students who have any questions about anything to connect with us directly. We want the videos to be more of an act of service.”

“We did get a lot of responses back from (teachers) saying, ‘Thank you and we appreciate this,’” said Teagan Epley, account assistant at Belle Communications and former vice president of member services at GVPRSSA. “So, we have assumed that they have been using them and sending them out to their students.”

Canter said the videos also proved to be beneficial in another way. She said they help high school teachers adapt to online classes because most high schoolers do not have online classes and they do not have to submit homework online from their homes. As a result, Canter said the videos helped to relieve the stress on some teachers.

Epley has had a front-row seat to the struggles high school teachers have to face during the pandemic.

“With my mom being a teacher and two brothers in high school, I witnessed firsthand how social distancing orders affected both ends of the education system,” she said. “As a chapter, we are so grateful to these essential workers for continuing to shape the minds of our future leaders and problem-solvers despite these trying times.”

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