Students Help Shine Spotlight on East Kentucky Leadership Conference

A group of Eastern Kentucky University students will help shine a spotlight on the 27th annual East Kentucky Leadership Conference, to be held April 24-25 in Somerset.

Twenty-one members of Melissa Newman’s Writing for Public Relations class along with a select number from other Department of Communication courses will provide an array of PR services designed to bring more attention to the conference, which will be held at The Center for Rural Development.

The students will be responsible for all preview, real-time and follow-up work to promote the conference. The work will include county-specific news releases, social media announcements, historical documentation of each session, and photography and video services.

The project “allows our students to take everything they’ve learned in this class and apply it, all while working for a very important client,” Newman said. “Conference leaders and board members are depending on us. My class isn’t working toward some moveable deadline that I’ve set for them. Our client is depending on us to deliver, and my students are responding favorably to that pressure and taking the work very seriously.”

One of those East Kentucky Leadership Foundation board members is David McFaddin, who also happens to serve as executive director of government relations for the University. McFaddin approached Dr. Liz Hansen, chair of EKU’s Department of Communication, with the idea.

The board wanted to better promote the conference, and “I felt engaging our students would be a great fit,” McFaddin said. “My hope was to give our students a real-world experience. It also creates an opportunity for portfolio pieces, networking and teamwork.”

Established in 1987, the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation has brought together leaders and community members from all walks of life and throughout the region to discuss important issues and improve the quality of life for all its citizens.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Transforming Crisis into Opportunity.” Session topics include Applying for ARC Flex-E Grants, Work Ready Communities, East Kentucky Women in Leadership, Resources for East Kentucky Entrepreneurs, From Crisis to Opportunity: SOAR Takes Off, Inspiring a Shared Vision: Youth Engagement, and Appalachian Capitalism, among others.

Already, the topics have captured the interest of the EKU students.

“The great thing about Eastern’s students really starting to wrap their hands around these issues is that very soon, as graduates of our Public Relations program, they will be in position to help make progress happen for eastern Kentucky,” Newman said.

McFaddin and Newman hope the experience can be repeated in coming years.

Published on March 25, 2014