No Minor Matter

May 12-18
VOL 124 NO. 18
No Minor Matter
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Program major in a new field at Le Moyne tested on CBA

When Anne Allen’s Advanced Public Relations class at Le Moyne College was given the challenge of generating a campaign for Christian Brothers Academy, it was confronted with a peculiar problem.

It seemed that everything at CBA was, well, fine and that the private school in Dewitt didn’t really need any help polishing up its apparently unblemished image.

“We went to our website and we did all of our research and we’re looking at it and we’re saying ‘What do they need us for?’ We were really impressed with CBA and we just had to take that information and just try to make it better,” Le Moyne senior Meg Richards said. “That was difficult because they’re already great.”

Instead of reworking CBA’s image, the group instead examined ways that the school could improve upon its strengths.

The CBA project was conducted in tandem with another project aimed at helping the 40-below group in Syracuse, an organization that seeks to find ways of keeping young people in Central New York. Past editions have been involved with the Ronald McDonald House, the Inter-religious Food Source, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, according to previous instructor Mike Streissguth.

The students on the CBA team were Richards, Casey Quinn, Kim Connors, Sunny Tice, Amy Elderbroom and Laura Fowler. Connors graduated from CBA in 2000. They named their team “Perfect Relations.”

The group is part of Le Moyne’s first graduating class in the new communications major. Previously, the college had allowed communications as a minor, but four years ago, it was introduced as a major. Traditionally yoked to the English program, the major has retained its roots in the liberal arts, Allen said.

The presentation comprised 80 percent of the students’ final grade in the 400-level class and accounted for almost all of the course work. It included a phased Power-Point presentation and a brief discussion that followed.

Their research included the survey; examining the school’s website and those of its competitors such as Bishop Ludden, Bishop Grimes and Manlius-Pebble Hill; and collecting the school’s ubiquitous newspaper clippings.

In February, the group met with CBA representatives Patti Callahan, the school’s development officer, and Holly Dowd, admissions administrator.

The team looked at what CBA had to offer and then investigated ways to improve its image. The group surveyed seventh-grade students and their parents and found that a majority had been recruited to the school via its open house.

Allen explained that the project was designed to give the students some hands-on experience in the field of public relations. She noted that “connecting the classroom with the community” is part of Le Moyne’s Jesuit mission.

“They’re students, they’re young adults, but they’ve never done this before,” Allen said. “It’s one thing for them to talk about this with me because they’ve been with me all semester, but it takes it to a whole different level when you actually have people whom you are kind of serving as clients come in. I think that was the part that they were the most nervous about and I think that was the part that they ultimately were most comfortable with, which is good. It shows that they’re ready to go out and do this.”

Richards thought her team had performed well and that the experience gave it a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of a public-relations campaign.

“We definitely learned how to make a PR campaign,” Richards said. “Before this, we didn’t know what went into the entire campaign. What you really realize is the importance of your research, which isn’t the fun part of the campaign, but it’s probably one of the most important parts of the campaign.”

Brother Thomas Zoppo, FSC, CBA’s principal, also found certain aspects of the presentation illuminating.

“I was very impressed because they showed that they’d done an awful lot of great work and it was good to get some feedback because we need to maintain our enrollment,” he said.

Even if CBA didn’t exactly need a makeover, Brother Thomas said inspecting some of the surveys and finding that the school was executing its mission was in itself satisfying.

“I had an opportunity to look at some of the surveys as they came back and it was very gratifying to see that we’re pretty much accomplishing what we had set out to accomplish,” he said. “But we’re always looking at ways that we can make things better to meet the needs of the families that are out there. Tuition is very high and we’re looking to do the best possible job that we can do.”

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