A group of public relations students at Murray State got real-world experience in February through the national organization Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).
Kirstie Willis, Kiaya Young, Michelle Young, Paige Wilson and Maegan Lusk teamed up to take on a local organization – the Gentry House.
Kirstie Willis said the project was part of the Bateman Case Study Competition. Every year, the Bateman competition chooses an organization to promote.
“Bateman’s overall client this year was Home Matters, so the PRSSA teams can either pick an overall client or pick one of the local ones,” Willis said. “We talked to the Gentry House, and we knew that they needed some help, and we asked them if they would register with Home Matters.”
Home Matters’ website says it “builds awareness and raises funds for more affordable homes and better communities.” It partners with 250 organizations.
Willis said they wanted to help a local client instead of a national one because they wanted to directly affect people who are in need in Murray.
“It’s more personal when you can do something local instead of doing an overall campaign because you can see so many personal changes to this organization and see it actually benefit people,” Willis said.
Once the Gentry House became a partner of Home Matters, the PRSSA group began promoting it. Willis said they did everything from writing press releases to updating the website.
“We have made fliers for them. We have made brochures for them, and we took over their Facebook for the whole entire month of February,” Willis said.
In addition to social media promotion, their group planned a community discussion about homelessness awareness. The three-person panel included Kimberly Mason, Gentry House director; Linda Cherry, Murray City Council member and Gentry House board member; and Laura Barnett, homelessness relief advocate.
Members of the community and students had the opportunity to listen and ask questions about the homeless situation in Murray.
Kiaya Young said they chose to promote the Gentry House because her group liked their mission.
“They (the Gentry House) try to change the homelessness situation,” Young said. “They help (the homeless) get back on their feet with permanent housing and employment.”
The panel agreed that homelessness is still an issue in Murray. Even though people don’t see it, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there, they said.
Mason said the best assistance that students and community members can provide is
their volunteer time. Help is needed at fundraisers sponsored by the Gentry House or with office work.
The next opportunity to volunteer is the annual Kentucky Derby Party in April.
Story by Madison Wepfer, Assistant Features Editor