#MySRPI A Communications campaign to encourage Journalism and Mass Communications students to register for the 66th annual Southern Regional Press Institute

CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW

The purpose of this research is to gain insight as to whether or not Journalism and Mass Communications Students at Savannah State University have registered to the 66th annual Southern Regional Press Institute and why. The Institute was founded by the late Wilton C. Scott, a strong advocate of minority participation in media, and served as the director of public relations at Savannah State University. Scott founded SRPI in 1950 to help high school and college students acquire skills in communications.(About-Southern Regional Press Institute, 2015) The target audience of this research is JMC students at Savannah State University.

Research is focused on JMC students because that was the founder’s intended audience for the institute. Scott sought to bring opportunities to media students who are minority and Savannah State is an HBCU with about 96% minority students. (How Diverse is Savannah State University,)

In the initial interview, Professor Novella Cross Holmes, past SRPI director and special projects coordinator at SSU expressed that not many students had registered to attend the institute by January 30. Ms Holmes shared her concern because the institute is to take place on February 23rd and 24th, and although registration has been made more convenient through the SRPI website ssusrpi.com. According to JMC secretary Tina Brown, as of February 1, only 65 out of 465 JMC majors had registered for the event. Through primary and secondary research, the reason behind lack of student registration to SRPI will be explored.

BACKGROUND RESEARCH

Through the conduction of secondary research, one was able to gauge insight on the purpose of SRPI, how it has impacted students and how students have responded to it. A very important finding is that although there is plenty of information about the history of SRPI, award recipients, workshops and more the results for recent student feedback show scarcity. There are many ways to learn about SRPI such as articles, news releases and posts about SRPI via social media. The most recent article found on Tiger’s Roar that includes student feedback is from February 21, 2015. The subject of the article was a mixed response from students and faculty watching a panel discussion on sports writing. The reporter expresses, “Some people in the audience found this event helpful but lacked interest while others liked the event.” (Carter, 2015) As the article reads on, Carter, 2015 interviewed one SSU JMC student as well an adviser about their takes on the panel and each of them gave favorable remarks. However, Carter did not ask students who appeared to be uninterested.

The most common information that can be found on Southern Regional Press Institute is the various workshops, activities and the job & internship fair. According to Savannah State University news release, 2014, The conference features more than 30 workshops on using social media to cover breaking news; writing for public relations; sports writing; magazine writing; digital photography; graphic design; digital storytelling; audio, film and television industries; and advertising. High school and college students will take part in workforce readiness training, career counseling and networking opportunities for jobs and internships. Primary research later revealed that students believe the workshops provided at SRPI are relevant to their future career success.

METHODOLOGY

The main goal of this research is to explore and analyze why students have not been registering for SRPI and to create a campaign to increase the number of JMC Students who pre-register online. Primary research was conducted by the use of an online questionnaire in three

non-random ways: purposive snowball, voluntary and convenience . The link for the questionnaire was only given to JMC majors at SSU in order to obtain the most relevant and effective results. There were 25 students surveyed to answer questions about student knowledge of SRPI, whether they had registered for it and whether or not they view it as relevant. A consent form was given at the beginning of the form and explained that the questionnaire was anonymous and voluntary as opposed to mandatory. In the consent form, participants were made aware that all responses were for official research purposes and that if they had concerns those were to be addressed to the researcher via email. The questionnaire was given in JMC Professor Hawkins in his Writing for Digital Media Class, it was also posted in the Savannah State JMC group chat, Principles & Productions group chat and SSU PRSSA group chat. Additionally, it was posted on Twitter using the hashtags “SSU” and “SSUJMC.” For the final participant, the survey was given to one non-random,convenient, female JMC student. The questionnaire was made available from Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 4:00 a.m. until Wednesday, February 1, 2017 SSU SRPI Student Registration at 3:00 p.m.

FINDINGS

When examining the number of students who had actually registered for SRPI, various factors were shown. Students were surveyed based only upon how much knowledge they had of the institute, prior to participation in the questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire revealed that more than half of the students surveyed had indeed heard of Southern Regional Press Institute. This means that SRPI has an impact on the JMC students at Savannah State University. However, the data below reveals that 77% of students had not registered for SRPI. The results of the data relates directly to the information given in the informal interview with JMC secretary, Tina Brown who said only 65 students had registered for SRPI by February 2, 2017

Figure 1 Shows the number of students who heard of SRPI.

The fact that only 77% percent of students in the sample responded that they had not registered for SRPI reveals that the sample was distributed in a fair way and not concentrated on one type of student. When asked why they had not registered for the institute, 77% of students replied that they didn’t know registration was open.

Figure 2 shows the number of students registered.

The other responses for that question were that students were uninterested or not planning to attend. Further questioning probed whether or not students knew they could apply online at ssusrpi.com and 46% of students replied that they did not know and the other 54% responded that they knew. When asked if they would prefer to register online for the institute, 96% either agreed or strongly agreed to that preference. Students also expressed interest in following the news of SRPI via social media. As the chart above shows, the sites more students would

keep up with are Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. With regards to the response of other, students expressed they would prefer to keep up with SRPI by hearing about it from fellow students and professors. Analyzing the demographics for this survey revealed that many of the participants are Juniors at SSU. It stands out the most

amongst the demographics because of the line of questioning for the questionnaire. Some questions asked whether or not whether students had attended SRPI in the past, if students knew the purpose of SRPI, and if they knew that they could register for the institute online and the majority of those responses were either no or not sure. The results of this data shows that there is a disconnect between what is happening with SRPI and how that information is being communicated to students.

PRODUCTION

Class Presentation

Print and Digital Flyer

Digital Flyer

Electronic Press Kit

Commercial

IMPLEMENTATION

Classroom Presentations

Classroom Presentation, with brochures and flyers
Passing Brochures to JMC students

Social Media Posts

Social Media Posts using #MySRPI and #ssusrpi

Electronic Press Kit

EVALUATION

The following evaluative research was done to determine the effectiveness of the #MySRPI campaign. This effectiveness was based on message recollection from participants surveyed and the use of the hashtag or associated hashtags on social media

Campaign Goal: The goal of this campaign to encourage JMC student engagement in registering for SRPI and the associated Job & Career Fair

Objectives

• To increase the number of SSU JMC students pre-registered on ssusrpi.com for SRPI by Tuesday, February 21

• To encourage and increase the use of #ssusrpi by students on Twitter and Facebook for the entire month of February, particularly on the 23rd-24th

Implementation Efforts

1. Class Presentations: Conducted class presentations in JMC classrooms

2. Brochures: Handed brochures to students during presentations

3. Print/ Digital Flyer: Hang flyers in Whiting hall and posted them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

4. Social Media Posts: created meme and other posts for social media

5. Electronic News Kit: emailed press release, media advisory, backgrounder, fact sheet and schedule of events to the Tiger’s Roar

Methodology

The purpose of this research was to determine in the campaign efforts were successful by surveying Journalism and Mass Communications students at Savannah State University.

Data Collection Technique: A questionnaire was generated through Google forms and accessed by a hyperlink. The hyperlink was sent out via social media sites such as Facebook, and Twitter, as well as through the GroupMe Messaging app. This questionnaire was separated into 4 sections: the consent form, the participant’s recollection of SRPI, message recall of the campaign itself and demographics.

Sample Size: The sample consisted of 25 participants

Ethical Considerations: The questionnaire was introduced as voluntary. The identity of the

participants was anonymous. Participants were asked to consent before they continued into the

actual questionnaire.

Data Analysis: The data was collected using the Google Forms excel spread sheet, which helped

analyze the data.

Findings

Before and After Comparison

Social Media Buzz

Though evaluative research showed parts of the campaign that were successful, the lack of posts using the hashtag on social media showed that not all objectives were met. There were only posts from JMC faculty using the MySRPI hashtag.

Formative Research

In hindsight, the researcher could have benefited greatly from fully exhausting all available resources and seeking out more. Had the researcher used more visually appealing graphics for social media and made the hashtag more interactive the campaign could have shown much greater success. Along with planning and time, the researcher could have made the campaign more familiar amongst JMC students and could have planned more interactive and interesting presentations and deliverables.

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