Strategic communication students develop ideas for Denver Film Festival
When the Denver Film Society wanted to attract a younger audience to its yearly Women + Film VOICES Film Festival, they turned to those who know that audience best: University of Denver students.
Erika Polson, assistant professor in Media, Film & Journalism Studies, met with Denver Film Society members in January to create a class assignment that would generate useable ideas for the festival. Students in Polson's Strategic Communications Planning course were given eight weeks to develop their ideas.
"Part of the goal of this class is to strengthen our relationships with the professional and nonprofit communities," said Polson. "Students get 'real world' skills while organizations can tap into the creativity and enthusiasm of our young public relations students."
Each student group developed a written campaign, including objectives, goals and publicity tactics. Students also recognized that attracting a younger audience to the film festival was an important goal and presented ideas for auxiliary events such as trivia nights, tea parties, small fairs and even a costume contest that could raise awareness of the festival and funnel interest into the yearly event.
Film Society members attended the final "group pitch" meeting, allowing students to sharpen their public speaking and presentation skills. Each group presented written plans as well as PowerPoint presentations to visually illustrate their ideas.
Society members were impressed with the presentations and the professionalism of the students. As part of the assignment, only one campaign could be chosen by DFS as the winner, but the clients enthusiastically jotted down ideas from all of the presenters.
"I wish we could hire a couple of the students; my head was so full of information," said Tammy Brislin, the festival's creator.
Students in the course will continue to a similar advanced seminar class in the spring where another real-world client will contact with DU to create a public relations plan.
Students in the Strategic Communication major give DU high marks for incorporating such real world learning exercises into classroom projects. In addition, public relations students must also complete an internship as part of their required coursework.
Strategic Communication student Connor Davis contributed to this article.