November 19, 2008

Alternative Spring Break

Posted in Activists, Kent State University, Student Organization at 3:30 pm by cdziak

Fall semester is quickly coming to an end and when spring semester approaches, all students will have one thing on their mind: Spring Break. I was never one who really had a spring break experience because it never really appealed to me. My freshman year I went home, sophomore year I went to Disney World – which was a blast, junior year I headed to Hilton Head and my senior year, I went home again.  Spring break seems like a ritual when you come to college and everyone looks forward to it.  For those students who want to enjoy their spring break and volunteer their time, Kent State is offering their alternative spring break.

Kent State’s Alternative Spring Break

Kent State United for the Gulf Coast had a large ad in the Daily Kent Stater with informational meetings coming up. Although their website is not up-to-date, it does provide information for students and faculty to look at from past trips. There are volunteer blogs, podcasts, and an essay.  After coming across the ad, I went to the website to see if there was more information about the spring trip but there was not.  The ad did provide meeting dates and times and I’m hoping that after the informational meetings are held, the trip information will be posted on the website.

Alternative Spring Break

Break Away‘s mission is to train, assist, and connect campuses and communities in promoting quality break programs that inspire lifelong active citizenship.  Break Away is just one of many organizations that provide alternative spring break options for students.  Alternative Spring Break trips have been around for a while, but The Case Foundation have found that these trips have been on the rise the past couple of years.  Alternative spring breaks see like a great way for students to build their resume, gain leadership skills and to be selfless for a week.

In today’s world, teenagers and college students seem to be so consumed with material items that they forget what is important in life.  The economy is in such bad shape, people are losing their retirement funds and the Gulf Coast is still a disaster from Hurricane Katrina three years ago. Only a limited number of students can attend  the alternative spring break though Kent State but students can attend a trip through another organization. Check out United Way, Spring Break Alternative, or the Student Conservation Association for more opportunities. I think students really need to take advantage of such a great opportunity and learn to be selfless for a week and be an activist.

I hope that Kent State United for the Gulf Coast gets a good turnout at each of their informational meetings.  With such a huge ad and a website with good information, they seem to be headed in the direction of having another successful alternative spring break trip.  I’m crossing my fingers to go on this trip.


November 12, 2008

Promote like Crazy

Posted in Kent State University, Student Organization, Uncategorized at 3:42 pm by cdziak

As I was walking through the student the other day, I saw a display with a couple of fliers saying that there was going to be  meeting Wed. Nov 12 for student groups to learn how to promote their organization.  Now, if I didn’t have a prior commitment, I would definitely attend but I have some thoughts.

Why wasn’t this meeting held at the beginning of the semester?

I understand the beginning of the semester is busy for everyone, incoming freshman, returning students and yes, even us grad students.  It seems more ideal that a meeting where organizations can learn how to better promote their organization shouldn’t be in November.  The first semester is almost over.

Not enough promotion?

A recent classmate of mine gave a presentation on fundraising for non-profits. One comment she made about non-profit event promotion was there is no such thing as too much promotion. Probably like many non-profts, the student organizations don’t have a large budget, so they have to be creative in the way they get the word out.  Sometimes the typical flier just won’t do.  Times Square is chock full of promotions going on.

Use the members

The Rock Hall only had 6 weeks to promote the CMJ Music Festival the first year and boy did they promote!  They went to local establishments to hand out guitar pics with the event information, they had fliers, t-shirts, free music download cards. Employees spray chalked sidewalks and walls, they had magnets with the event information on their cars.  I could go on. The point is, employees got excited about the event.

Get excited

If organizations feel that there is a lack of students, get out there and promote like crazy.

  • Use your resources
  • put fliers in different buildings – the library, student center, Eastway Center, the Student Recreation center, different departments.
  • talk to your classes
  • make a Facebook page

As I was searching around the Center for Student Involvement site, there was no sign of this meeting being held.I think it’s great that there is going to be a meeting held for these organizations but I think they would have benefited more from the meeting had it been at the beginning of the semester.

Here’s something to consider, even though it is geared more towards businesses.

November 7, 2008

Change is Coming

Posted in Kent State University, Student Organization, Uncategorized at 5:03 pm by cdziak

President-elect Barack Obama has brought change throughout this election and will bring change with him to the White House.  Now you’re probably thinking, what does me mentioning Barack Obama have to do with public relations and student organizations.  Well, here are my thoughts.

Kent State College Democrats

I don’t even know where to begin.  The College Democrats have had such a strong presence on the Kent campus since I started grad school back in August.  Walking through the student center, the College Democrats always had their table set up handing out information to students.  At Risman Plaza in front of the student center, they were encouraging students to register to vote.  They chalked the sidewalks of campus, they handed out Barack Obama paraphernalia, they did a lot to get students excited and involved.  I felt like there wasn’t a place on campus you couldn’t go without seeing the presence of the College Democrats.

Kent State College Republicans

I wish I could say the same thing about the College Republicans on Kent State’s campus.  I might have seen a table set up once at the student center, but other then that, there was very much a lack of presence by them on campus. Perhaps the students weren’t inspired with the Republican candidate of John McCain or that they were not as organized as the Democrats.  Whatever the reason, as an organization, they need to communicate to the student body that they exist.  One might think that there is no College Republican group on campus because they are never appeared to be around.

Student organizations need to take advantage of all the opportunities they can to get the word out about their group.

Use Your Resources

  • Social Networks – Embrace technology.  Social networking isn’t going anywhere. Use them.
  • Student Media – Get to know the student media and take advantage of Black Squirrel Radio, Kent News Net, and The Daily Kent Stater.  Plenty of chances to get the word out about your organization with student media on campus.
  • Classes – Get to know people in class to help promote events or your organization.  Make announcements about the organization you’re involved with before or after class.
  • E-Mail – Send a mass e-mail to the class.  It can be easily done through flashline but make sure to e-mail yourself and blind carbon copy the class.
  • The Student Center – Set up information tables in the student center about your group.
  • Listservs – Have a listserv to encourage students to sign up with an opt-out option if they change their mind.  I’m on the Catholic Student Association listserv and most of the time I can’t attend any events because I am in class but it is nice to get the e-mail every week to know what is going on.

When I was an undergrad at UNC Greensboro, the first or second week of school, almost every student organization had a tent set up on College Ave. to get information out to new and current students.  For the entire week, each group was outside from about 11 am – 4 pm encouraging students to get involved.

Change is good and if student organizations want to boost their organization’s numbers or just have more of a presence on campus then maybe some of them need to change the way they approach their marketing strategies.  If organizations stay static and don’t embrace change or technology, then they might not get get very far.

October 29, 2008

Social Media Bandwagon

Posted in Kent State University, Social Media, Student Organization at 3:18 am by cdziak

I admit, I’m not a super computer nerd or tech savvy but when I was an undergrad, I jumped on the social media bandwagon. Social media can include anything from Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, to blogs, podcasts and various other media outlets. More specifically, I jumped on the social network bandwagon and joined Facebook and Myspace back in 2004. When I think about it, that seems like ages ago and boy has social networking and social media taken off since its birth.

It seems that nowadays, everyone is involved in social networking in some way and student organizations as well as corporations have a Facebook page, myspace page, blog, have podcasts or all of the above.

In last weeks post, both the college democrats and college republicans had websites which were not very helpful but both had active Facebook pages.

Here are a couple questions regarding social networks.

  • Is social networking the best way to reach out to people in this day and age?
  • Are websites just going to be the base for an organization in the future?
  • Are social networking sites going to become more popular than the typical website?

At Kent State’s Center for Student Involvement various organizations websites are either out of date or the link simply does not work.  Jump onto Facebook and search for groups at Kent State and over 500 results show up.  You’ll find anything from Relay for Life at Kent State to I Want to Catch a Kent State Black Squirrel. People can create various groups on Facebook for random reasons or to get people involved.

Organizations and colleges are also taking on blogs.  Bryn Mawr College has an entire site dedicated to blogs.

Social networking and blogs are great ways to keep people informed and get people excited about an event but regardless of what the organization is trying to do, they need to think about the reasoning behind creating a blog or making a social networking group.

With so many social networking sites springing up so often and with so many to choose from, should organizations use these sites to reach out to people, especially student organizations?  What makes Facebook better to use than Myspace?  Should organizations use Twitter or Pownce?

Social media can be very overwhelming but if student organizations are strategic in the way they use social media or networking, I think it can be very beneficial especially with social networking becoming part of our daily lives.

October 22, 2008

Students, Politics and the Internet

Posted in Kent State University, Student Organization at 4:43 am by cdziak

With the presidential election less than 2 weeks away, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on Kent States college democrats and college republicans on campus.

Since arriving at Kent State, one of the more visible student organizations is the College Democrats.  They have been at the student center, they’ve had events at the Risman plaza and there have various articles about them in the Daily Kent Stater.  I tried to check out both organizations website through Kent State’s Center for Student Involvement but had little success.  The college democrats webpage did not load and the college republicans website is a little outdated.

  • Any organization, be it a student run organization, a non-profit, or corporation should ALWAYS make sure their website is current and if their website is posted on a page, it is posted correctly.

With a little searching on Kent State’s website, I found the current college democrats website although there is not much information posted other then when the group meets and the officers.  At least there website is current but not the easiest to find especially from the Center for Student Involvement website.

For a student organization on a college campus, does Facebook benefit the group more then just a plain old website?  My thoughts are it does. College students, especially undergrads, have gotten to an unhealthy habit of constantly checking their Facebook page but if Facebook is all about social networking then why not reach out to students through this very popular website?  Some college political organizations even have blogs.

The college republicans on the campus of William Jewell College even have their own logo.  Brand your organization – great idea!

I think it’s great to see college organizations using social media to reach their peers, to get them interested and involved especially during an election year.  Young adults have definitely taken initiative to make their peers aware that they can make a difference.  At Northwestern University , their college democrats and republicans held a debate called NU Decides.  I think both organizations on Kent State’s campus could really vamp up their methods of reaching out to their peers.  Start a blog.  Debate each other.  Update the websites.  I think the college democrats are on the right track but both organizations need a little more push to really be successful on campus.  Check out other college’s organizations and see what they are doing to get people involved.

October 15, 2008

The Green Bandwagon

Posted in Kent State University, Student Organization, Uncategorized at 12:19 pm by cdziak

One of the most recent trends among university campuses is to go green. Kent State is jumping on the bandwagon with a task force to help the school become more green.  Not every school is going to be ahead of the crowd but here is a list of top ten schools from the Sierra Club who have already begun going green.

10 that Get It

  1. 1. Oberlin College
  2. 2. Harvard Unversity
  3. 3. Warren Wilson College
  4. 4. University of California system
  5. 5. Duke University
  6. 6. Middlebury College
  7. 7. Berea College
  8. 8. Pennsylvania State University
  9. 9. Tufts University
  10. 10. Carnegie Mellon University

I am all for the university  becoming more energy efficient.  This could be a prime opportunity for a new student organization on campus geared towards being more green.  I didn’t come across organization on campus whose mission is to make the school more green.

Where to Start

Say there is a group of students on campus who are interested in a “green” organization.  I would encourage them to find out the credentials for starting a new campus organization.  Once the organization is up and running, I would suggest alternate ways to get students interested instead of the typical posting of fliers around campus (which would help) and chalking on the campus sidewalks.  Facebook is a prime place to get friends and other students to notice a new organization.  A creative symbol and catchy name are important to a new organization as well.

Check out Other Universities

It wouldn’t be too hard to find out what other universities around the country are doing to get students involved with going green.

  • The University of Wisconsin – Madison had an entire Green Week this past April.
  • The State University of New York – New Paltz has a couple of organizations on campus geared towards going green.
  • Carnegie Mellon University has an entire webpage, Green Practices, to going green.
  • The University of Wisconsin – Seven Points has several student organizations as well.

I think there is a great time for students to be creative, be involved with an important and hot issue right now and do their part in making Kent State more green.

October 8, 2008

The ‘Power’ of People

Posted in Activists, Kent State University, PR Practitioners, Student Organization at 3:32 am by cdziak

This past week, my PR theory and practices class had a great discussion revolving around PR practitioners and activists.  Some questions that came up were what is the difference between a PR practitioner and an activist? What similar qualities does each hold and what makes these two entities different.  At the end of class, we were all questioning the definition of both and if the two could go hand in hand.

With the presidential election quickly approaching, student activists and groups have been out in full force to encourage the KSU student body to register to vote and for students to pledge their vote in November for the creation of clean air energy.

The main group of activists behind the latter, is Power Vote, a non-partisan group who is on a mission to gather 1 million young Americans signatures.  Students can pledge online to make clean, just energy a priority in their vote this election.  I’ve seen this group around campus during the first presidential debate during the weekend of We the People Fest and most recently this past Monday.  A group of students came into the Media, Power, and Culture class to encourage the students to pledge their vote for clean energy this November.  The student activists came in wearing Power Vote t-shirts – green with a fist holding an energy action turbine.  Very eye-catching I must say.

As activists, the students at Kent and various campuses across the states, have banded together to gather signatures and make the young America aware that we do have the power to make a difference regardless of who is president and make it known that young America is concerned for the environment and how it will affect us when we are older and how it could potentially affect our kids.  This group is passionate about the issue of clean energy, and the creation  of green jobs. These students are creating a relationship with their peers at Kent to promote the issue they are compassionate about.

By definition, public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization  and the publics on whom it’s success or failure depends.  Based on this definition, the leaders of this student based Power Vote activist group could also be deemed PR practitioners.  They may not be aware of it, but this student activist group is maintaining a relationship with the KSU student body as well as the other Power Vote groups and the main Power Vote group.  For all of the campuses that have a Power Vote group, the success of their 1 million signature campaign depends on the relationship they have with the student body and how receptive their peers are to young America taking charge.

The Power Vote campaign is demonstrating that activists can be PR practitioners.  Power Vote groups are building relationships, informing the public and trying to have a successful campaign.  Come November, this could be a great example of how the power of the people had an impact on the government and society.

Check out the YouTube video as part of the campaign.