PR students partner with Loyola on projects


Detroit Mercy students enrolled in this spring semester’s Principles of Public Relations class are getting a glimpse at the industry through a collaboration with Detroit’s Loyola High School.

The CST 2400 course is not just note-taking and exams.

Students are responsible for content creation.

The collaboration was the idea of Roger Jankowski, director of marketing and communications at Loyola, an all-male Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition with about 150 students, grades 9 through 12.

“I felt we had such a breadth of talent just a mile down the road … at Detroit Mercy,” said Jankowski. “There had to be a way to create some sort of synergy between the two schools.”

Jankowski and one of the marketing committee officials met with Cynthia Langham, communications studies department chair and adjunct professor Alexander Hichel, who teaches the class.

They decided a “client/agency” approach would be more beneficial to everyone involved.

“Essentially, working together, we would combine academic learning with industry expertise to provide real projects,” said Hichel.

During the first weeks of class, Detroit Mercy students were divided into four groups.

These groups become “agencies.”

Projects, based on data supplied by “the client,” Jankowski and their marketing committee, are assigned weekly, with some being individual and others being group. All include guidelines and deadlines.

“Types of projects have included understanding an organization’s brand, creating social media post visuals and text,” said Hichel, who is also director of recruitment and communications for the College of Liberal Arts & Education.

Video discussion boards are used to familiarize students with workplace collaborations in this age of Covid-19.

Hichel hopes that her students will appreciate and grow from their real-world experiences.

“I want students in this class to know that the work they do matters, and to approach it as such,” Hichel said.

Allyson Zeigler, senior elementary education major, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration, citing the hands-on experience as the draw for her.

“I really have no background knowledge or experience with this, so jumping straight into this class with the partnership … has been such a great way for me to truly grasp the field of public relations,” Zeigler said.

Maxine Moore, a junior communications major, said she likes that Loyola uses their work.

Both Hichel and Jankowski are hopeful that this will be the beginning a long and fruitful collaboration.

“I am thrilled to have so many bright, young PR minds helping tell our many Loyola stories in new and different ways to as many audiences as possible,” Jankowski said.