Four rows of OSU Strategic Communications students sit at iMacs in room 201 of the Paul Miller Journalism building, typing, designing in Illustrator and taking thorough notes. These 16 students are not working on busy work or grade-driven projects - they are strategically planning a full public relations campaign for Merry Main Street, Stillwater’s newest downtown holiday experience.
Gina Noble, professor and instructor of Advanced PR Writing, chose to take on the hard and
often unpredictable task of assigning her students a real-life client, rather than running a typical college course.
“Oklahoma State University is a land grant university, and I take that very seriously,” Noble
says, sitting at her desk at the front of the classroom. “I always want to help nonprofits and give my students real-life experience.”
Noble began the course by breaking students up into teams and giving them the task of handling Merry Main Street’s social media, media relations, website design and promotional materials.
Samantha Mackey, a senior Strategic Communications student, is taking Noble’s course this fall. She says she enjoys the course because of the accountability and value that comes with working for a client.
“It’s really nice to be in an environment where my classmates and I work with a client,” Mackey says as she works on a news story. “A real client with real goals gives the class the feeling of a PR agency, which I haven’t gotten anywhere else.”
These students meet weekly with their clients, City Councilor Alane Zanotti and Griege Goods owner Shannon Williams, to discuss plans for the event and the best ways to promote it. Zanotti says he has no worries when it comes to trusting students with Merry Main Street.
“Shannon and I are blown away and overwhelmed with the level of knowledge these students have and the enthusiasm they bring,” Zanotti says, sitting next to Noble in a maroon office chair.
“We’ve had a vision for what Merry Main Street should look like for a long time, and the
students have been helpful to bring things to life on the technology and promotional side.”
As the holidays approach and Merry Main Street becomes a reality, the students work begins to reach an exciting conclusion. When Stillwater celebrates the season downtown with Christmas tree lightings, carriage rides and live-music performances, the city has the students of the Advanced PR Writing to thank for getting the word out.
Written by Jacob Jackson.