A week-long celebration of the field of communication gives students applied experience

Radford University students planned and organized a week-long event dedicated to the field of communication called COMS Week, which runs April 9-13.

The Strategic Event Planning course mirrors an actual public relations agency, with students divided into four groups covering philanthropy, guest speakers, a carnival and social media pages for the event.

“Even though we have our separate agencies, this class definitely requires a lot of group work and we wouldn’t be able to succeed without working together as a class and communicating with each other daily,” said senior Alexis Gardner from Baltimore. “My group has had to coordinate with the philanthropy group’s dates and times of their fundraisers and the best way to promote it. We’ve all had to bounce ideas off of each other.”

The bouncing of ideas led to a new theme for the week – “COMLYMPICS.”

“After the previous COMS Week, my students surveyed the communication students,” said Kathleen Degnon, instructor of Strategic Event Planning. “A majority of the responses indicated that our students would like to see a sports-themed COMS Week. My students wanted to listen, and they decided this year's Olympic theme would incorporate diversity, leadership, pushing yourself, teamwork and other Olympic traits.”

For junior Belle Dickerson from Smith Mountain Lake, the experience has been challenging, but rewarding.

“I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together that week,” she said. “We have all been working really hard not only inside the class but outside of class as well. There are some really cool speakers this year that I think not only will Radford students be interested in, but also the Radford community.”

The Strategic Event Planning class in charge of planning COMS Week.

The Strategic Event Planning class in charge of planning COMS Week.

Guest speakers and alumni come to campus

Part of the celebration of the field of communication allows students to get a taste of the field by having local professionals, alumni and faculty of the School of Communication speak and work with students at the event.

The keynote speaker for “COMLYPMICS” is Delegate Chris Hurst, who will discuss transitioning from journalism to politics from 9:30-10:45 a.m. on April 10.

“It is extremely important for students to hear from speakers not only that are already studying communication, but also those who are undeclared but thinking of communication because these speakers can show how successful they can be and how they can achieve that level of success,” Dickerson said.   

Other speakers and events during COMS Week include networking, professional photos, discussion of public relations, TV news, advertising and the carnival. There are more than 20 events in total.

A new event, “Campaign-A-Thon,” has been added to COMS Week. In teams of five or six, students will be given a local organization and subsequently campaign for them for five hours. The business and nonprofits involved are SPARK, Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley and Thai This. Organizations were chosen by RadAd, PRSSA and Lambda Pi Eta, the sponsors of “Campaign-A-Thon.”

The experience has been demanding, yet rewarding. It's given me a great insight on how to treat certain situations that could potentially occur in my professional life and career.

Victoria Wade, a senior from Narrows

Giving back

The “COMLYMPICS” theme also manifested itself in a new way this year with the inclusion of a 3v3 basketball tournament on April 9 from 7-10 p.m. The event was created by the philanthropy agency. The entry fee for each team is $15 or 15 donated food items that benefits Bobcat Backpacks Program, which helps fight hunger in the local community.

“My students are understanding how much work goes into planning an event,” Degnon said. “They are realizing that an event happening in April must begin planning in January because so many factors outside of their control might lead them to find implementing Plan B is necessary to ensuring the event's success. They created goals at the beginning of the semester, and it is great to see them using those as a benchmark for measuring the success or failure of their objectives.”

COMS Week is sponsored by the Club Programming Committee, RadAd, Lambda Pi Eta and Radford University Public Relations Student Society of America chapter. Donations were received from Price Williams, Food Lion, BT's, Sharkey's, Texas Roadhouse, The Radford University Recreation and Wellness Center, Alumni Relations, Outback, Moe’s, El Charro and the Radford University Bookstore.

Mar 28, 2018
Max Esterhuizen