Mass Comm seniors use capstone course to make community impact

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Students in Professor George Harrison’s public relations campaigns course helped give people quite the fright this week and last, by helping to plan and promote the second annual “Insanitarium” fundraiser for Scotland County Parks and Recreation. 

This Halloween-themed event ran the weekends of October 19-20 and 26-27.

With volunteers from community and campus, Parks and Recreation staged a haunted house at 116 Roper Street in downtown Laurinburg. Two floors of costumed actors scared patrons, and local band Gravy Biscuits entertained an audience outside while street vendors offered food and drink.

The event was a collaborative effort that included the campaigns class and the UNCP Office of Community and Civic Engagement. Last fall Harrison’s class helped with the first Insanitarium, which was staged at the abandoned prison in Wagram.  This year they played with the theme of “Nightmare on Main Street.”  The downtown event attracted about 1,400 people over three days, with October 26 rained out.

Two teams of five students each assisted Bryan Graham, director of Parks and Recreation, in marketing and volunteer recruitment. One group managed the social media campaign on platforms including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram while another planned and coordinated the recruitment campaign with the help of software programs such as BraveConnect.

As part of the course, students researched the client’s needs and overall objectives. From that research, they created and implemented a campaign plan and evaluated the results.

“The campaigns class gives students the opportunity to learn and serve the community at the same time,” Harrison said.  “They get real-world experience helping a client achieve public relations goals, so it can be a win-win situation.”

Proceeds from the event will be used to support activities of the Scotland County Parks and Recreation Department.

Students said they had fun getting hands-on experience in the major. 

“I had the time of my life,” said Spencer Demery, a graduating senior.  “I got to connect with UNCP students from different backgrounds and volunteer in a unique and exciting way.”