PR students boost charity cycle ride

Wednesday 25 March 2009

25 March 2009

Two University of the Sunshine Coast students are putting a new PR spin on a charity cycle event.

Courtney Williamson, 22, of Alexandra Headland and Jenna Cannon, 21, of Mooloolaba are getting real-world experience in their Bachelor degrees by doing public relations for the Tour De Kawana.

The duo aims to help the organising committee get 1000 participants in the annual event to raise more funds for Cystic Fibrosis Queensland, which has opened a new branch at Kawana.

Last year 750 people entered the event, which ranges from a fun ride to serious races for the experienced. This year it’s on Sunday 5 April at Lake Kawana (www.tourdekawana.com.au).

“It’s really hands-on,” Courtney said. “We’re attending the committee meetings, including the media launch at Kawana Shoppingworld. We find story angles and send out media releases. We’re trying to get more student participation via emails, posters, flyers, web postings.”

USC Public Relations program leader Dr Amalia Matheson said 18 final-year students had been selected for this and similar work-integrated projects. Tutor Peppi Bueti, of PlaceMakers Public Relations, was mentoring the Courtney and Jenna team.

“We actively involve industry professionals in our teaching to make sure the degree is relevant and integrated with both business and the broader community,” Dr Matheson said.

“This approach, which underpins our new public relations degrees, has resulted in a 66 percent increase in enrolments in the program.”

She said the degree offered further chances to work with outside clients through internships.

“These industry elements set the Public Relations degree apart from others so our graduates have recent experience working on high-profile projects. It gives them an edge with employers.”

Courtney, a former Matthew Flinders College student and budding clothing designer, can’t wait to use her degree to manage events and promote her fashion label Kink, which sells at Eumundi and Cotton Tree markets.

Peppi Bueti, who is a member of the Tour De Kawana committee as well as a tutor at USC, said it was a win-win arrangement for both students and charity.

“It’s great from the committee’s point of view because we have extra helpers,” he said. “It’s volunteer-driven so the more hands on board, the more money we can raise for Cystic Fibrosis Queensland.

“The students are putting theory into practice while making good contacts.”

Cystic Fibrosis Queensland CEO Jane Andersen said it was the third year the charity had teamed with USC in this way. The students added value to existing public relations arrangements.

– Julie Gatehouse