UW-Whitewater students receive lessons in new media

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:55 am

UW-Whitewater students in Ann Knabe’s public relations classes learn traditional communication skills and tactics, but also gain extensive experience with new media and social media strategy. The latest in her new media assignments? Have students write development proposals for smart phone applications.
“Students in my PR Tactics II class expand their knowledge beyond traditional press releases and biographies and get into things like experimenting with video and different types of multimedia in the public relations field,” Knabe said. “Their newest assignment is based on the fact that mobile media is really shaping how, as brands, we form relationships with our target audiences.”
Knabe wanted the students to focus on creating an app that would target a specific audience, help shape the brand of an organization, but also help foster relationships and communications between the organization and the target audience, she said.
Students were required to look within their own lives and write a proposal for an application that didn’t exist and that they could use, she said.
“I left it pretty open, the proposals could be for any application from something on the college campus, extra curricular activities or even a volunteer experiences,” Knabe said.
 According to Knabe, 90 percent of her students have either an iPhone, Blackberry or Droid.
“They are very plugged in,” she said. “It’s is exciting because they are right on the cusp of old traditional tactics and exciting new media techniques, which strengthens them in terms of marketability.”
Students in the class wrote proposals for applications revolving around UW-Whitewater campus meal program, the student information management system on campus and personal applications revolving around friend finding and others.
Ryan Zimmerman, a junior at UW-Whitewater who is actively involved in ROTC, wrote a proposal for an application designed to help student ROTC members and others download and learn different cadence calls, he said.
“It was a great assignment, and I just took something I thought would be useful for me and many others,” he said.
Knabe started requiring her students to have Twitter accounts a year ago. They are also required to set up and maintain an organization Facebook page for a nonprofit or organization in the area, have LinkedIn profiles and design digital portfolios through www.weebly.com.
“I’m glad she requires us to do all of these new media assignments,” said Angela Brooks, senior at UW-Whitewater. “I think it’s extremely applicable to skills we will need when we graduate. It potentially makes us one step ahead of our competition.”
The smart phone application proposal was new this year. Knabe hopes some of those proposals actually get picked up by developers to be created into actual applications.
“My whole goal is to position them for success outside of Whitewater,” Knabe said. “It’s important that they learn traditional writing skills, traditional PR tactics and critical thinking but it’s equally important in today’s world to posses these new media skills so they can be successful wherever they land in the work force.”

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