Cardinal PR Members Doing Public Relations From a Distance
Members of the student-run public relations firm, Cardinal PR, are adjusting the way they help their community client in response to the coronavirus.
With no more face-to-face interactions, the SUNY Plattsburgh public relations students have moved their operations to an online platform. It is one its president said was necessary if they were to continue with the mission of Cardinal PR — providing pro-bono services to a non-profit client each academic year while giving PR majors professional experiential learning opportunities.
Prior to March break, Cardinal PR student staff met once a week with executive board members meeting twice weekly. A faculty adviser helps guide them in running the firm. After the college switched to distance learning instruction to limit density on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinal PR switched to meeting via Zoom, which lends itself to particular challenges in the public relations field.
“The hardest part of transitioning to online meetings is critiquing each other’s work on Zoom,” said senior Wappingers, N.Y., native Dominique Lewis, the group’s president. Members are experiencing difficulty seeing one another’s full documents while sharing screens.
“When we share screens on Zoom, it’s harder for us all to judge documents like flyers because the color can be distorted online versus in print,” she said. This year’s client is the Battlefield Memorial Gateway Project, in partnership with the Town of Plattsburgh and Clinton County American Legion. The project is a waterfront park that faces Crab Island on Lake Champlain.
“The purpose is to commemorate the military history of the area,” Lewis said. “Cardinal PR is helping with promoting the park through social media, creating brochures, press releases and designing a sponsorship kit. We were originally planning an official presentation of the park project to the client for late April. We are now providing the framework and necessary steps to plan the event in the future with supply lists, invitations, social media posts and press release templates.”
Senior Russia Boles, vice president of Cardinal PR, said the group had to adjust approaches as well.
“It was definitely challenging,” the Bronx native said. “We had to pretty much restructure our entire campaign plan as well as adjust our social media to be sensitive during this uncertain time in the world.”
The switch to online instruction affected other students who were in public relations internships, including senior Grace Pavarini, a former Cardinal PR member from Massapequa Park, Long Island, who until March was interning at Planned Parenthood.
“After my internship at Planned Parent ended during to closings from COVID-19, I was left without an internship, but I still needed the credits to graduate,” Pavarini said. “I decided to re-join Cardinal PR since I had taken the course in the fall. This opportunity allowed me to fulfill my credits and still graduate on time.”
Find Cardinal PR online at https://www.plattsburgh.edu/programs/public-relations-major.html.