YWCA Dayton has long been a voice for domestic violence victims. Now, thanks to a local team of public relations students, twice as many people are listening.
Students in Dr. Alan Abitbol’s spring Public Relations Capstone course at the University of Dayton were charged with forming their own (albeit fictional) PR agencies and executing marketing campaigns aimed at strengthening YW’s brand, understanding of its programs, and awareness of the community health issues those programs address.
The five students of College Park PR – Melissa DeVille, Morgan Ford, Emily Norton, Anne Pavlis, and Daniel Quaicoe – set out to design a general domestic violence awareness campaign. Their initial research, though, led them to highlight a more specific form of abuse. Among the college students they surveyed, only half of them believed digital abuse – such as sending threatening text messages or stalking their online behaviors – constituted domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a difficult subject; sometimes, it can even be taboo,” Norton said. “But, the repercussions of ignorance regarding the definition of what domestic violence is, and what it consists of, can be equally as harmful as the violence itself. Not knowing when to seek help or simply when to tell a friend could hurt the victim far more, as this often allows the cycle of violence to repeat itself.”
With recent text message-themed videos going viral on Facebook and young-adult relationship communications happening primarily in the digital world, College Park PR created a four-part series of public service announcements that encourage healthy digital behavior. They wrote the scripts based in part on experiences recounted by their peers.
“Technology is critical to younger generations, so it’s important to create engaging content that will start the conversation about domestic violence in a way that resonates with them,” Norton said.
In addition to the videos (view them HERE), College Park PR created and distributed nearly 200 informational handouts around campus (including all 164 bulletin boards), conducted outreach to five local churches, designed a dozen social media graphics featuring domestic violence statistics, joined Take Back the Night (a campus event that promotes healing and story-sharing among violence survivors), and hosted a bake sale to raise funds for YW’s shelter and services.
“We wanted to get the information out there, especially for college students, so if someone was feeling alone and helpless, they knew they had a way to get help,” Norton explained.
Do you or someone you know need help? It starts with a call. Our crisis and domestic violence hotline is open 24/7/365: 937-222-SAFE (7233).