Student Union forms PR committee to design, photograph for student groups

Jon Wingens | Contributing Reporter

Student Union has formed a new committee meant to reach out to student organizations in need of help with publicity.

The newly formed Student Union Public Relations Committee works with student organizations around campus to publicize their events through fliers, social media, photography and other methods of advertisement.

The committee was formed as part of SU’s effort to become more accessible and work actively with student groups, Vice President of Public Relations and senior Chan Kwon said. This effort began with the previous VP PR, who aimed to re-establish SU’s brand.

“Last year’s goal of the vice president of public relations was regarding Student Union, creating a website, making it more transparent, open and friendly. So his focus was more access among the student body,” Kwon said.

The committee, which began operating in mid-September, has been listed as a requirement in the SU constitution for several years, although the requirement has gone ignored until this year.

Kwon said that the committee should help eliminate the need for student groups to hire outside contractors to aid in publicity.

“It’s very easy for student groups to start the process—they don’t need to go searching outside the University for promotional help,” Kwon said.

The committee as of now is an eight-person team comprised of three designers, four photographers and a developer. According to Kwon, members of the team are compensated for their work, although he would not specify their hourly rate.

An anonymous member of the committee said that the designers are paid $11 per hour.

The inception of the committee was the result of a two-pronged effort. For one, Student Union saw this as an opportunity to reach out to and become more engaged with the student groups it funds.

“My goal this semester coming in was to work actively with student groups, which is what this PR team was created for,” Kwon said.

Kwon noted that all of the other SU executive members had committees to oversee, but the PR exec had not been responsible for a group in the past.

“We brainstormed what that kind of committee that would look like and came up with an internal advertising agency for the students,” Kwon said.

While the committee has yet to complete any projects due to its recent entrance onto campus, preliminary reviews seem to be positive.

Alexandra Zdonczyk, junior and treasurer of Natural Ties, an organization that connects Washington University students with adults with special needs in the local community, recently put in a request for assistance.

Natural Ties had trouble finding the national organization’s actual logo, so it decided to move forward with its own branding.

“When I saw the SU PR team was coming out I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to create a new logo with the skills they have,” Zdoncyzk said.

Additionally, Zdoncyzk noted one of the most obvious benefits of the new committee: the jobs, at least to a certain point, are done for free.

“I really like the idea that SUPR [Student Union Public Relations] has in terms of matching Wash. U. student skills with the needs of different students’ groups, and for free too,” Zdoncyzk said.

Regarding cost, the committee gives out a certain number of free hours based on the amount of money each club is awarded by Student Union for budgetary purposes. For example, clubs that are categorized as category I (i.e. larger student groups) get more funding from Student Union and thus more free hours of service.

This is due to the limited number of hours and resources the committee has, as well as the fact that larger clubs tend to need more comprehensive publicity for bigger events, Kwon said. If a student group uses up its allotted PR hours, it will have to pay a yet-to-be-determined rate for PR services.

Additionally, the Public Relations Committee is looking to expand in the future as demand grows. Kwon said that the group has received between 10 to 15 requests already, from advertising help to branding identity.

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