Public relations students gain
real life experience from writing class
By Anitra Hall
Public relations students at the University of South Carolina
didn’t know they would be getting real-life experience
in Assistant Professor Brooke McKeever’s Journalism 436
public relations writing course.
“I knew we’d be learning how to write press
releases and media alerts, but I thought we’d write for
fictional clients,” said third-year public relations
student Joshlyn Thomas. “I was surprised and excited
when I found out we’d actually be working with a real
organization, Curing Kids Cancer.”
USC alumnus Clay Owen and his wife Grainne Owen founded Curing
Kids Cancer, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization whose
vision is to find cures for pediatric cancer research in our
lifetime. The Owens’ foundation began in 2005 after losing their
9-year-old son, Killian, to his battle with leukemia in 2003.
The sports-themed organization is based on Killian
Owen’s favorite pastime: sports. Drawing off of his excitement
for athletics, Curing Kids Cancer uses the energy of young
athletes, coaches, teachers, and members of the community to
generate funds for pediatric research. There are four main
fundraising programs for Curing Kids Cancer: Coaches Curing
Kids Cancer, Teachers Curing Kids Cancer, Players Curing Kids
Cancer, and Certified Officer’s of Public Safety (COPS)
Curing Kids Cancer.
Students incorporated what they have learned in class with
Curing Kids Cancer by writing news releases, media alerts,
fact sheets, communications audits, and public service announcements
for the organization. “It was fun to be able to work
with a real client,” said third-year public relations
student Anitra Hall. “It gave us insight on what clients
actually look for.”
The public relations students were able to be a part of Curing
Kids Cancer‘s first event in Gamecock Country, “Battle
Kids Cancer with the Gamecocks!” Students wrote public
relations pieces and volunteered at the much-anticipated event.
The luncheon, which included special Gamecock guests like Athletic
Director Ray Tanner and Baseball Coach Chad Holbrook, was a
way to incorporate the enthusiasm of Gamecock sports with the
need to raise money for childhood pediatric cancer research.
More than 180 people attended the luncheon that included
a silent auction, Q-and-A with Gamecock sports guests, and
giveaways. The luncheon, which the Owens’ have decided
will be an annual event due to its success, raised approximately
$20,000 for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Center
for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Since it was founded, Curing Kids Cancer has raised more than
$2 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment. For
more information, visit www.curingkidscancer.org.
Anitra Hall is a junior
public relations major in the School of Journalism and
Hall, a Rock Hill native, currently interns at Souper
Bowl of Caring, a nonprofit organization that uses the
energy of the Super Bowl to encourage youth to care for
people in their local communities who are hungry.