SJMC students’ campaign creation for dating violence education

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Alissa Rosen

On Dec. 5, the University of Iowa School Journalism and Mass Communication Strategic Communication Campaigns course turned its college classroom into a client conference room for their Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) client-report presentation.

DVIP provides support for victims of domestic violence and their loved ones and is available in Johnson, Cedar, Iowa and Washington counties. In the fall 2011 semester, assistant professor Petya Eckler chose DVIP as the class client after receiving a recommendation from doctoral candidate Erin O’Gara, who is a DVIP executive board member.

“When I started teaching this class, I wanted to make it more practical for the students and have a real-life client,” Eckler said. “I started looking around Iowa City for a non-profit organization that would be willing to work with us and Erin had suggested I approach DVIP, and we’ve been working with them ever since.”

In the fall 2011 semester, the Strategic Communication Campaigns students began initially researching, planning and creating materials for their DVIP campaign proposal. During the fall 2012 semester, students in the class took the proposed DVIP campaign and actually produced it. They titled their work “Know the Red Flags Campaign”; it serves the purpose of raising awareness among UI undergraduates about dating violence. Dee Dixon, Assistant Executive Director at DVIP, wanted students who developed the campaign to educate their peers about dating violence and become a resource on campus, because DVIP is a resource located off campus.

“What we know is that at a time where you’re learning about being in relationships and beginning to be in relationships, there are more opportunities for things to go wrong, especially if you don’t have information,” Dixon said. “Coming together and working with the University on how to present that information can get it out there to the students in a way that is accessible to them.”

The students were separated into a research team and creative team and had an account-executive representative. During their one-hour campaign presentation, students detailed their findings, creations, and evaluations of the “Know the Red Flags Campaign.” Students designed posters to pin on Cambuses, produced a promotional and informational “Break the Silence” video on YouTube, and hosted a “Know the Flag, Show the Flag” interactive event on campus. These students’ awareness efforts were acknowledged and appreciated among their fellow Hawkeyes and the DVIP, as evidenced through the campaign’s social media platforms, with 360 “Likes” on Facebook, 87 followers on Twitter and 128 video views on YouTube. Kaley Borchardt, a junior Journalism and Mass Communication student and the executive on the campaign’s creative team, noted that in the process of educating others about dating violence she also was able to educate herself.

“My favorite part was being able to see all the people that we influenced,” Borchardt said, “and also how I became influenced myself, since prior to this experience I didn’t really know anything about dating violence. But now I’m invested in DVIP and their efforts.”

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