Page 30 - FOXTALK Fall 2012

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Fall 2012
a friend of Robbins, traveled from New York City to teach the
studens about how to cast and direct actors in a film.
“It’s great because they get to make a movie the way mov-
ies are made—not doing anything else at the same time,’’ said
“They look at it at the end and there’s a real sense of
Communication Department –
Jennie Donohue
Probably the last thing Alexis Murphy, ‘12, expected to do at
Marist College was get up close and personal with some local
But when she went with her Organizational Writing Class
to Sprout Creek Farm, she had one of the best “out of the box’’
learning experiences of her four years.
The Organizational Writing class is taught by Jennie
Donohue, a faculty member with more than 20 years worth
of corporate, agency and public/nonprofit public relations
Now she’s passing on her knowledge, while coaching stu-
dents in real PR experiences outside the classroom.
At Sprout Creek, a unique non-profit farm, educational cen-
ter, market and summer camp, students met with the operators
then created press materials and did social media content.
Murphy said that hands-on experience couldn’t be dupli-
cated in the classroom.
“This was an invaluable experience that not only enhanced
my writing skills by my client relationship skills,’’ Murphy
said. “It really gave us the experience of how things work in the
business world. (Professor Donohue) treats us with the same
level of professionalism and expects the same level of work we’ ll
encounter on our first jobs.’’
Students are also getting “real life’’ experience through the
Public Relations Student Society of America, which is advised
by Donohue.
Some might argue that students will get experience, even-
tually, when they work at internships. But competition in the
media world is so intense that they need the edge going in even
to be considered for internship positions, Donohue noted.
“In order to land that internship, perspective employers are
looking for that work experience,’’ she said.
Lyn Lepre, communication department chair and associate
professor, agrees.
“What Jennie is doing in her classroom is not just important,
it is integral to getting our students ahead of the curve as they
head out into an extremely competitive job market,” she said.
“Instead of simply relying on in-class exercises or examinations
of case studies, Jennie is getting her students out there, learn-
ing, networking and getting solid experience. Her students are
very lucky to be able to take advantage of her expertise and her
enthusiasm for teaching.”
The PRSSA chapter at Marist, with about 80 members, is
strengthening its own organization with an 8 to 10 page news-
letter, plus taking on real clients off campus.
What started as a capping project for one student has evolved
into a real-life business venture for many: A new student-run
public relations firm is working pro bono campaigns with local
non-profit clients. They’re organized just as a professional firm
would be.
The American Red Cross of Dutchess County was the first
client on board last spring. Students wrote press materials, did
social media promotion and helped coordinate a gala and a golf
Students, who have signed on two more non-profit groups as
clients, get experience in traditional skills like handling clients
and meeting deadlines while at the same time learning to inte-
grate social media.
Donohue likened their tweeting to writing that attention-
grabbing headline—but instantaneously.
And that aspect, she said, is one of the biggest challenges
facing the industry and students entering the workforce.
It also seemed to sum up the challenges in just about every
program in the School of Communication & the Arts
“How,’’ Donohue said, “do you do the basics, but do it at a
much faster rate than before?’’