Toilets. A mandatory item in a home but rarely found on a college syllabus, that is until Ellen Treanor, professional in residence for Southern Utah University’s Department of Communication, was made privy to water conservation efforts in Iron County, leading to a commode commotion.
Working with the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District (CICWCD), Treanor and her 35 students set to work to raise awareness for water conservancy within Iron County, with the target audience being 800 local fourth graders. But it was through the porcelain throne that these future publicists found success.
“As a fourth grader, what would you make you stop in the hallway and read a sign about water? A toilet would,” declared McKenna Yturriaga, project manager and senior from Woodland Hills, Utah. “A toilet would get these kids to stop, read the info graphic, then tell their parents about why there was a toilet in the hallway.”
And tell they did. The “What’s All the Flush About” campaign had students rushing home to tell their parents about the potty dropped off at their school.
The toilets squatted in six elementary schools in Iron County to stimulate buzz for CICWCD’s the annual Water Fair, which was held March 10-11, teaching children about the importance of water conservation.
With a large impact on these fourth graders, the college students may have felt the greatest educational impressions.
With these 35 students creating 100 percent of the campaign—from posters to timelines to strategies—Treanor’s students left the latrines with confidence that what they were learning would directly correlate to their future professions.
“These students worked with local businesses, elementary school principals and a nonprofit organization—real clients,” exclaimed Treanor. “My students are getting vital experience creating real public relation campaigns, learning real success and real disappointments. Now that’s something you can’t get from a textbook.”
It is this professional experience that has students flocking to Treanor’s public relation campaigns course, and according to Yturriaga it is a huge advantage to her academic and professional career.
“Creating and managing marketing and public relation campaigns is exactly what I’ll be doing after graduation and if I was at bigger university I wouldn’t get this kind of experience,” stated Yturriaga. “Instead, I would be in a lecture hall with 80 other students simply reading case studies.”
On top of the lavatory experiments, these public relation students are responsible for two other campaigns during the semester. In February they worked with La Boulangerie Marie (local French bakery) for a Valentine’s Day event and next month will be joining forces for “Glow in the Park,” a flashlight Easter event for teenagers.