In March, a group of 13 public relations students participating in the health care public relations capstone for the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism embarked on a week-long journey to Dublin, Ireland, to meet face-to-face with their client, Shine, Ireland’s leading mental health advocacy organization.

Led by adjunct instructor Chuck Harman, a senior executive at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, Va., the class became a public relations agency that the students named “Young and Able.” The students worked throughout the semester to develop a three-part public relations campaign for their client, which they presented to Shine’s senior management in Ireland during spring break.

“Shine initially expressed a need to update their helpline services, reorganize their membership options and promote their emerging art therapy program,” said Adrienne Lundell a public relations senior from Oak Hill, Va.

With so many tasks at hand, Young and Able formed into three teams focusing on each aspect of the organization and developed tactics to create a comprehensive plan for Shine to move forward.

“Shine wanted to hit a target audience of 18-35, which is broad, but it was perfect for us providing that insight while relating back to Shine’s mission,” said Lundell.

Three seniors from the class – Apollo Marple, of Clarksburg, W.Va.; Lindsay Kenders, of McKeesport, Pa.; and Marisa Leuzzi, of Philadelphia, Pa. – presented the class’ campaign to the board, who subsequently “hired” the student firm to implement their efforts by providing a budget.

Young and Able, largely comprised of graduating seniors, now has until graduation in May to implement a highly complex campaign.

“This experience gave us all an idea of how to be professional and sensitive to a client, especially in dealing with mental health advocacy,” said Lundell. “We have been lucky to have Mike Fulton, executive vice president of Golin Harris – a 1979 WVU alumnus and mentor for the class – advising us along the way. He has really kept us on track when it comes to the client.”

Young and Able has promised Shine a revamped website, new promotional materials, a Shine smartphone app, a new blog and a Facebook page for the Shine Arts program.

“We’ve promised them great results,” said Lundell. “We have a smart group, and we work well together, so I’m sure the client will continue to be very pleased with our effort.”

“The educational and cultural learning opportunities of this experience were vast,” said Harman. “But the students also provided valuable contributions to this non-profit client.”

Young and Able will present their final work to Shine via Skype on May 5 during WVU’s finals week.

Other students participating in the Young and Able project include: Lindsay Bailey, of Charleston, W.Va.; Amanda Ciktor, of Woodbridge, N.J.; Dan Frey, of Coopersburg, Pa.; Missy Marlow, of Parkersburg, W.Va.; Caitlin Melvin, of Vienna, W.Va.; Lauren Paslawsky, of Milltown, N.J.; Johnna Shumate, of Mounthope, W.Va.; Sara Silbaugh, of Greensburg, Pa.; Kristina Snider, of Mineral Wells, W.Va.; and Jordan Weisenborn, of Fairmont, W.Va.


Contact: Marisa Leuzzi, Young & Able, 610-316-2767