This profile will be our last of a public relations graduate. As in earlier profiles, this first posting will describe the subject’s writing and a second will discuss writing processes, the influence of Slippery Rock’s curriculum on the subject’s writing, and any suggestions the subject might have for improving either our curriculum or our teaching.
The subject works for a large non-profit agency with offices in several counties in western Pennsylvania. Her job is “to handle all of the public relations, marketing, and special event fund raising for, mainly, the Beaver County area. But I have been known to have to work outside of the county in the different areas that we serve.”
The mission of her employer, for whom she had worked for more than two years following her 2006 graduation, is primarily educational. “We have early education centers that have pre-school and child care. What makes us different is we provide those programs for children with and without special needs, and they work directly, hand in hand together in the classroom. More often than not, a pre-school cannot work with a child with special needs; they’re not equipped to. We also offer free ‘child check’ screening for children, birth to age five, to make sure they’re developing appropriately for their age. We offer speech therapy and early intervention services. We have in-home support services for families that may be dealing with a crisis; that could be a health crisis, financial crisis … We have programs for adults with intellectual challenges as well. We have … a couple of adult training facilities; it’s more like a daily work shop. And then we have 24-hour community homes where they reside on a permanent basis.”
Although more studied in her responses, this subject resembles the one in Minnesota in her apparent job satisfaction and sense that she is doing something she enjoys because it fits her abilities and temperament. When we got together for the interview I realized the subject had been a student in one of my College Writing sections several years back. I also recalled the confidence she had in her writing even then. “My niche at ________ and our community relations department has become the writer. It seems, and this is really from my boss’s opinion, that I came more prepared. A lot of everyone else in my department is actually around my age. We’re all in our, right now, late twenties, early thirties, and my boss, she’s in her mid-fifties so; she has just mentioned before that … she had started to come to me more for the writing; it’s been my niche, my unclaimed niche at work.” The supplied samples suggest something of her emergence as the “go-to” person in her department for writing. The subject marked one article as hers in the Fall/Winter 2006 newsletter, two in the Spring/Summer 2007 newsletter, five in the Spring/Summer 2008 newsletter, and seven in the Fall/Winter 2008 newsletter. Also included among the samples was a letter recruiting participants for a July golf outing that also served as a fund-raiser for the agency.
The newsletters are meant to increase awareness of the agency’s varied programs within the community and to raise money. Stories are often lifted from the newsletter for incorporation in direct-mail campaigns, “but even in our newsletter there’s an opportunity to submit a gift. There’s a remittance envelope included in there, and they can make a gift to a specific county. So a lot of these stories about our programming try to drive those gifts.” The newsletter is sent to “previous donors,” to “donor prospects,” to the families of those using the agency’s services, and to local and state officials. (Some of the agency’s funding comes from government monies earmarked to support pre-school and child care programs, although the greatest amount is “for our MR services.”)
One article that served as an exemplar featured Daniel, who “came to us around two, and by the time he had left us at the age of five he was accepted into the public school system, which is something that is not easy for a child of special needs.” (Daniel had Down’s Syndrome.) “He came to us non-verbal, with a lot of behaviors, and he left us being able … he added a number of words to his vocabulary, he also learned how to sign with us, if he couldn’t express himself.” Another article was about a recently deceased long-time employee who had driven the bus transporting the aged to the agency’s “health services program. … And he was very special to the families of our clients. Because he would pick up the senior citizens in their homes, he would go in; he would make sure that they had everything that they needed that day. When he brought them back he would go in, get them set up on their favorite chair, get them a glass of water. He went 110%.”
The subject also saw these articles or stories playing an educational role in the community. The articles would explain a particular program as if a reader, no matter how long they had received the newsletter, had “never heard of it,” and sought to encourage readers to learn more about the conditions and treatment approaches they described. “The stories that we typically do with clients in that program [adults with intellectual challenges] are different activities that they get to participate in, and different fun things that they do to show them that it’s not just …they come in, they work workshop style, and they go. Our programs focus on getting them involved in the community, getting them out, getting them doing things, developing self sufficiency.”