ASP is excited to have 5 trail-blazing students in our new Strategic Communication track this semester, and they have been busy engaging communication leaders in Washington, D.C. Currently, we are putting together a communication campaign for Bread for the World, as well as constructing two case studies – one based on the Ebola Outbreak in 2014 that the students are researching as a group, and the other done individually for their internship offices. Our students have great internship placements this semester at the Washington Redskins’ Business Development and Operations Department; public relations firm, the Borenstein Group; Genocide Watch; Susan B. Anthony List; and a congressional office.
We started our first week by meeting with Jared Noetzel, Church Relations Coordinator at Bread for the World. The students will be developing and presenting a communication campaign to Bread in three parts: a Formative Research Paper, analyzing tools such as a public relations audit and a SWOT analysis to build the foundation for their communication campaign; a Strategic Plan, working with Bread to establish goals and objectives for the campaign; and an Evaluation and Monitoring Plan, which will help measure and determine to what degree the campaign has achieved its goals. This has been a great experience for the students to work with a real client, understand their mission and vision, and apply what we are learning in the classroom in a way that creates value for a DC-based Christian organization.
Next, we began work on the Strategic Communication case studies. The students are writing a group case study about the Ebola Outbreak in 2014, focusing on a communication decision that was influential which helps us to understand the big picture. We met with four professionals who actively worked on the Ebola Outbreak in 2014. First, we went to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and met with Marty Bahamonde, Director of Disaster Operations in the Office of External Affairs. FEMA’s strategic communication team worked directly with the CDC as they responded to the unfolding crisis. The student’s also video-conferenced with Rev. Susan Sytsma Bratt, associate pastor at Northridge Presbyterian Church, which is located in the Dallas community where the first Ebola victim in the USA was staying. She shared a fascinating first-person perspective on communication in Dallas during the crisis and how she and her church chose to respond.
We also met with Jonathan V. Last, reporter at the Weekly Standard, who covered the case closely. He provided valuable insight to the students about what was being told to the media, when, and by whom. Lastly, we met with Caroline Booth, the communication director for Congressman Pete Sessions, whose district includes Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital, the focus of the Ebola crisis. The next step of this case study is for the students conduct their own primary research and interview more professionals. We can’t wait to see who they are able to speak with!
Strategic Communication concludes its first half of the semester by sending each student to their internships with the assignment of identifying a decision point at their offices that they can focus on for their individual case study. This is a great opportunity for the students to add value to their internship placement sites. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve travelled in just a few short weeks. Next week, the students will present the research portion of their communication campaign to Bread for the World. We are thankful for all of the opportunities that are being made available to our students, and we are excited for the good work they are completely this semester.