PRSSA promotes affordable housing in Athens

Every year at Ohio University, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is paired with a client to participate in the national PRSSA competition. OU’s client this year is Home Matters, which is an organization dedicated to advocating affordable housing across America.

Team Bateman, consisting of juniors, Jess Carnprobst, Marisa Fiore, Mira Kuhar, and senior Lindsey Zimmerman, had the month of February to implement a campaign to raise awareness for Home Matters.

Team Bateman chose to focus on Athens and the community as their target audience because of the current high poverty level in Athens County. Home Matters was a good client for the team to have, because the organization focuses on advocating for affordable housing in the United States.

The current poverty level in Athens County is 32% according to the US Census Bureau compared to Ohio’s average poverty rate is only 16%.

“Since Athens is such an interesting community. We provided two kinds of information for Home Matters: information for those who already had a home [and] ways they can help the organization and donate, and then also information for those who can’t afford a home and are struggling,” said team member, Marisa Fiore.

Team Bateman titled their campaign: “Athens Matters.” In order to involve the Athens community, the team decided to set up a blog so that people could post what Home Matters means to them and why it is important to support affordable housing.

Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones and Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi are just a few of the community members that the team was able to have write on the Athens Matters blog about what “home” means to them.

Along with the Athens Matters blog, the main focus of Team Bateman’s campaign hosted a block party at the Athens Community Center on February 21 to raise awareness for Athens Matters.

Live Celtic music, crafts for kids, free food donated by local restaurants, Salaam and Fluff Bakery, and a live performance by musician Erin Casey were all a part of the block party festivities.

The purpose of the block party was not only to give community members information about Athens Matters, but also to just bring the Athens community together and provide a fun, free event.

A snowstorm the Saturday of the block party kept many people away but there was still a small turn out.

“We were really debating whether we should still hold the block party or not but after all the work we put into getting ready for it we decided to stick with the plan,” Fiore said.

Considering the weather and other events going on, the team was not disappointed with the turn out for the block party.

Team Bateman will be judged over the next two months on how well they campaigned for their client. They are competing against other PRSSA teams from universities across the United States.

At the national competition, judges will be looking at the team’s results and actions when deciding Team Bateman’s performance for their client. Judges will consider the team’s goal, preliminary research, and the over-all PR plan for the team’s campaign.

Team Bateman will find out how they ranked nationally in the PRSSA competition on April 13.


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