News Article: CWU students work with Ellensburg businesses

Central Communication Agency was featured in a story on Thursday, December 12, 2013 by the Ellensburg Daily Record.  Michael Gallagher interviewed a group from the CCA including Liz Kerns (Advisor), Hailey Nelsen (Agency Director) and Ann Reynolds (Account Executive, EDA account) in addition to Carolyn Honeycutt (EDA Director).  Thank you so much for the article Daily Record.   They highlighted the work we are doing with the Ellensburg Downtown Association.  You can read more about this partnership at http://www.cwuagency.com/EDA.  

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Originally Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 2:00 pm
By MICHAEL GALLAGHER assistant editor

Over the year many discussions concerning the downtown commercial core have started with the phrase, “If Central students only knew what the downtown offered … “

The alternate view of that relationship has received less discussion, “If only downtown business knew what Central students wanted …”

Central Washington University’s student-run public relations agency, Central Communication Agency, is making inroads in completing that conversation — providing students and downtown business owners with a mutual understanding.

“As much as students don’t know about businesses, businesses don’t know about students, either,” said Ann Reynolds, a CWU senior and member of the agency.

In partnership with its client, the Ellensburg Downtown Association, the agency held a student life seminar for downtown businesses Tuesday night. The purpose of the event was to help local businesses reach out and learn about student life.

“It’s been a long-running goal to bridge the gap between town and gown,” said Carolyn Honeycutt, executive director of the Ellensburg Downtown Association. “There is no one better to tell us how to reach students than students.”

Creating connections

The agency group began its association with the EDA in 2012 and this past spring conducted a survey of students to develop ideas and techniques for attracting students to the downtown core.

Reynolds, the agency’s account executive for the EDA, said it can be as simple as letting students know what is available downtown. She gave the example of unsuccessfully looking for a planner elsewhere and then finding one in a downtown store.

“If I have known the store carried it, I would have looked there first,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the other element is for the stores to stage events or activities that reach out to students and show an interest in their lives.

She said the agency is working with a local grocery store to offer classes on 5-minute microwave meals.

Hailey Nelsen, a CWU senior and agency director, said it is important for businesses to know how and where to communicate with students.

“Over 90 percent of students are on Facebook,” Nelsen said.

The agency experience

The EDA is just one of the agency’s clients (see accompanying box). Liz Kerns, agency adviser and CWU public relations professor, said there is a waiting list.

Clients do not pay for the service, but the student group forms a client relationship with the associated expectations and demands.

“We developed the agency for PR students to practice their craft,” Kerns said.

Kerns said Central already has a niche in the field by offering the only public relations bachelor’s degree in the state. Students are required to complete an internship before graduation and the agency adds to the practical experience a student needs to secure a job after graduation.

“We can get experience with an internship, but it’s only for a quarter,” Reynolds said. “We can get a full year’s experience working with the agency.”

Students are not required to take the agency class, but it is a popular choice.

“We have about 100 students in the PR program and about 50 in the agency every quarter,” Kerns said.

Students can take the agency class multiple times.

Nelsen said the agency is invaluable in helping build the experience students need in the workforce.

“It is a wonderful opportunity,” Nelsen said.

The students also like the idea of working with local businesses and groups and coming back in later years to see how that work paid off.

“They can come back in two or three years, see what they’ve done and how well it worked,” Honeycutt said.

Client list

The Central Communication Agency winter quarter 2014 client list and account executive team:

• Ellensburg Downtown Association (Ann Reynolds, account executive)

• Ellensburg School District (Baylee Bunyard, account executive)

• Winegar’s Coffee and Ice Cream (Alex Homer, account executive)

• Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, Medical School (Maribel Castellanos, account executive)

• Clymer Museum and Gallery (Shannon Lowry, account executive)

• Health Fitness Complete (Madalyn Freeman, account executive)

• Central Washington University CATtv (Ryan Centioli, account executive)

More info

For more information on the Central Communication Agency partnership with the Ellensburg Downtown Association, go to www.cwuagency.com/eda

For more information on the Central Communication Agency contact professor Liz Kerns.

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