Conestoga news

April 25, 2014 1:15 PM

PR students support local charities

Conestoga’s first-year public relations diploma students put their skills and knowledge to work in a planning course project that raised almost $6,000 for charities across the region.

Working in teams of four, students ran ten different social functions from start to finish to support such organizations as the House of Friendship, Because I Am A Girl, the Canadian Cancer Society, Nutrition for Learning and Breast Cancer Research.

According to instructor Susan Chilton, students spend about 10 weeks learning about events and project management to support their efforts, then are required to apply their knowledge as they plan and execute their events.

Students must learn how to approach businesses for sponsorships and donations to support their events, as no budget is provided and they are not allowed to spend any of their own money. Chilton explained that although many of the students found the task somewhat challenging at first, they were tremendously successful.

“I’m so proud of how well they did,” Chilton said. “They wrote sponsorship letters to get venues - all the venues were free - then they went out and got sponsors for everything from food to raffle prizes, big gift baskets and silent auction items. All of that was up to them.”

Events ranged from small, intimate venues to large-scale functions with hundreds of attendees. Among the events was a performance by Juno-nominated artist Alysha Brilla, a friend of one of the students.

A family-oriented event held at the Preston Rotary Club in support of the Make a Wish foundation attracted approximately 200 people.

An event held at the Raintree Café in Waterloo featured healthy eating and cooking demonstrations followed by a guest speaker from the Heart and Stroke Foundation who spoke about the charity.

Chilton confirmed that all of the groups exceeded their fundraising objectives.

“We had so much support from different companies and organizations within the community,” Chilton said. “The students were delighted, because no one knew quite what to expect from a group of first-year students trying to run these massive events.”

The experience gained by approaching venues and negotiating arrangements for their events helped students understand how supportive their community is, as well as strengthening their confidence as public relations professionals.

Student feedback on the project indicates that most of them found it to be a wonderful learning experience, and one that they can’t wait to try again.

Conestoga’s Public Relations diploma is a two-year program in which students learn strategic and creative communication strategies to solve organizational problems and make the most of business opportunities with key publics.

Conestoga also offers a four-year Public Relations degree program in which students develop the critical thinking skills and practical experience required to manage reputation, responses and relationships on behalf of organizations.

There are still spaces available for Fall 2014 entry in both the diploma and degree programs. For more information or to apply, visit