Class Profile: COMN 200 lends student voices to local business marketing

Associate professor of communication Mary Mohan uses local resources in her class, COMN 200: Theory and Practice of Public Relations, to create a uniquely interactive atmosphere through professional community involvement.

The class focuses on building students’ portfolios by offering them a chance to gain real-world experience in marketing. Each semester, Mohan finds college and community clients for her students to consult during two intensive group public-relations projects. Past classes have prepared marketing campaigns for the Geneseo Tourism Committee and the Campus Auxiliary Services Theft Prevention Initiative.

This semester’s projects focus on the Main Street community. Students will first strive to create a strong brand and propose effective marketing strategies for the Wadsworth Homestead, a newly opened event facility on South Street. In the second half of the semester, the class will help to nourish the graphic or linguistic brand identities of three new businesses on Main Street: Cyclepath, AntiCollections and Notebook Tek.

Mohan has taught the course for the entirety of her 25-year career at Geneseo and stressed its interactive nature: “I want the students to become immersed in the field of public relations. I don’t want them to just read about it, I want them to experience it,” she said.

Mohan has a wealth of experience in the field, having spent almost a decade working in place branding as well as helping to revitalize parts of Livingston County and the city of Rochester, N.Y.

Due to her own experiences, Mohan said she feels very strongly about reciprocal transformation, where both the student and the community are transformed in a wholly educational experience.

“This class is breaking down the barriers between the classroom and the community. We’re not in a college bubble, or we shouldn’t be,” Mohan said. “And the community members that we’ve worked with, they’ve considered it a very valuable experience … Many times they learn as much as the students.”

Mohan said that the unique nature of her class nurtures her students.

“I get to see my students grow, develop and reach a confidence level they hadn’t had before. This is a class of discovery and taking risks - there’s no set answer. I love that ‘aha’ moment when the students discover what the client needs.”