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Civic Impact

Free for nonprofits: services of talented Point Park communications students

The free marketing and design services that Point Park University (PPU) students have been providing for local nonprofits is going big-time this fall, expanding to students from more disciplines and offering an expanded list of services to more nonprofits.
 
Now dubbed Wood Street Communications after PPU's location downtown, the program has been running unofficially for many years among students in the senior capstone course for public relations and advertising in the School of Communication. Each year they have been picking a nonprofit for whom to devise an integrated marketing campaign.
 
But when Wood Street director Heather Starr Fiedler was teaching a design class last year how to do fake logos for Disney World and fictitious brochures for Apple, she realized "we had to find a way to get our non-journalism students that real-world feel like our news students."
 
And, Fiedler says, "we could connect people in the nonprofit world with real world help. We have students who could act as skilled volunteers. One of our missions is to serve the community and it's a real great experience for our students."
 
The new student-run organization, officially debuting in the fall, will offer help with public relations and advertising, graphic and web design, photography and videography, event planning, social media and branding, and publication writing and design.
 
Pittsburgh Cares has already been connecting PPU to such clients as Sojourner House, for whom students did a montage video about their work for a fundraiser. They've also helped Dress for Success, and this semester are focusing on the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
 
In the past, 20-40 students have been involved, but with the expansion to photo, video, PR, graphic design and other classes, Wood Street should include 100 students, Fiedler says.
 
"Everybody is going to get involved," she says. "I want them to get professional, real-world experience so they have something to add to their portfolio." And she hopes "that the students get a sense of how good it feels to serve their community. The students so far have really ended up getting so much out of it, really falling in love with the nonprofits…"
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Heather Starr Fiedler, Point Park University
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