Loyola University Chicago

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Students Win University Community Engagement Award

Students Win University Community Engagement Award

Public Relations Students Win University Community Engagement Award

How can a 109-year-old nonprofit organization use online communication more effectively to raise its visibility? And how can it do so with zero budget?

Those are the questions students in Principles of Public Relations asked at the beginning of their semester-long partnership with the Respiratory Health Association (RHA), whose mission is to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease through research, advocacy and education. Established in 1906 to combat tuberculosis, RHA today addresses asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tobacco control and air quality.

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After studying RHA’s target audiences, the class researched other nonprofit organizations to learn best practices in online communication. The class then created a comprehensive, step‑by-step road map for RHA to expand its online presence. Teams of students worked to redesign the organization’s website, propose ways for RHA to organize its social media for maximum outreach and visibility, plan a blog, create infographics, and recommend ways to better manage photo sharing. These recommendations could be implemented without any cost.

Their hard work paid off on April 20, when the class was honored with Loyola’s Community Engagement Impact Award.

“The students did extraordinary work, especially since it was an introductory class,” said Prof. Marjorie Kruvand, who taught the class.

RHA has already begun implementing the recommendations. For example, the organization’s website now fully reflects the students’ detailed suggestions to make it more streamlined, better organized, easier to navigate and more user friendly.  

“The work of the Loyola students greatly enhanced RHA’s online strategy for reaching our supporters,” said Joel Africk, the association’s president and chief executive officer. “Everyone from lung cancer patients to children with asthma will benefit from our work with Prof. Kruvand’s class.”  

Lauren Nowak, an Advertising and Public Relations major, said working with RHA allowed her to help the community while strengthening skills needed for a public relations career. Winning Loyola’s Community Engagement Impact Award was the icing on the cake.

“Understanding how to work in a team while collaborating on ideas to help a real organization took us far beyond a classroom setting,” she said. “The many hours we spent were entirely worth the outcome.”