PRSSA plans upcoming focus groups for SGA

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Contributing writer 

The Student Government Association (SGA) is partnering with the Murray State chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to host five focus groups this month.

Alissa Sommerfeldt, senior from Owensboro and president of PRSSA, said this collaboration is a great opportunity for PRSSA.

“PRSSA is in the stages of building our own student PR firm to give experiential learning to our members, so it kind of worked out perfectly,” Sommerfeldt said.

Sommerfeldt said that SGA will be PRSSA’s client, in a sense.

“Basically it’s going to be a conversation with people who show up about their thoughts about SGA,” Sommerfeldt said.

Rochele Rosa, junior from Varna, Illinois and director of the PRSSA student-led PR firm, said that through this experiential learning opportunity, the members are simply here to help SGA.

Even though Rosa had never heard of experiential learning like this, she said she believes it is a good opportunity for Murray State’s PRSSA members, especially those who will be looking for internships in the near future.

“My role is to organize and to coordinate, and then my team members will help facilitate it,” Rosa said.

Rosa said PRSSA is hoping to have 10-15 participants per focus group, and they would like to see a diverse group of participants.

“It’s not our job to be informants,” Rosa said. “We are simply mediators for discussion.”

Clinton Combs, SGA President, initially contacted PRSSA about the focus groups as a way to hear students’ opinions and improve SGA based on those opinions.

Combs said he was concerned about the long term planning goals of SGA and students’ expectations for SGA.

Combs said through the focus groups, they will learn students’ perceptions about SGA, what they’d like to see SGA do and their thoughts on a new funding model.

Combs said he wants to gauge student willingness to pay a small fee toward SGA.

“With that fee, we would be able to expand our services, expand our programming, be able to bring in larger-named individuals in terms of concerts and lectures and more availability of programming,” Combs said.

Combs said limited funding for events is an issue, but he said he’s hopeful that students will invest in SGA.

“I think that if students are willing to invest in us, we can definitely make sure that that investment is something that they can enjoy and that they’ll see fruitful,” Combs said.

Combs said the focus group discussion responses will be deciphered by PRSSA.

“We will create data sheets, and then we will present them in a powerpoint presentation to SGA at the end of the semester,” Rosa said.

Combs said the goal is to utilize PRSSA’s data to create a better marketing plan for SGA’s events and services and to take their suggestions into consideration for future program planning.

“We want to make sure we’re truly serving our students, and I think this information is going to be tremendous in that effort,” Combs said.

The five focus groups will meet in the Curris Center Cumberland room on these dates:

  • Oct. 10 at 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.
  • Oct. 17 at 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 18 at 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 21 at 3 p.m.

Rosa said all information will be anonymous, and no student information will be released.

Combs said any student is welcome to attend and food will be provided.