A few years back – well, at least one year – the PR Cases & Campaigns class (CMMN A318) took on as a client the Myra Bordelon Burson Foundation, empowering the elderly and adult disabled.
Choosing to assist the Myra was a no-brainer. After all, part of our Jesuit mission is to work with the most vulnerable in our society. And Myra Burson, for whom the foundation is named and in whose memory it was established, was an alum, having received her master’s degree in religious education from Loyola.
The goal of the PR campaign was to increase awareness of the relatively new organization (founded in 2005) among its target audiences and within the public as a whole. Students developed copious media materials, created all the necessities for a fundraising event and even developed a series of seminars for the foundation to sponsor to educate the elderly and adult disabled about their rights.
And they came up with the Myra Brigade, a group of supporters who would go into schools to talk with students about their own early experiences; Senior Coffee, an ongoing newspaper column and coffee klatch through which relevant issues would be discussed; and an updated version of the Web site, which features the 30+ page Community Resources Guide.
The efforts of that class from spring 2008 did not end with final exams. While students completed an impressive 200-page plans book and carried out aspects of the campaign, work on behalf of the Myra continues through internships and freelance assignments.
Benjamin Burson, founder/president of the Myra and a Eunice, La.-based attorney, has become a cheerleader for Loyola and the School of Mass Communication, even though he graduated from Tulane (undergrad in poli sci and a law degree). “I never understood the rivalry between the two schools, but after Katrina, I see that we really need to work together. This project showed me how we can achieve that.”
Burson’s work with the foundation has been highlighted in Tulane’s alumni magazine, the Tulanian, as well as in other publications in the state. “I continue to see the payoff and the goodwill generated by the synergy between the foundation and the Loyola mass comm students. It’s win-win. They get to work on a real-world project, and a nonprofit gets to help even more people.”
As the faculty member who taught that class, I’m very proud of these students. Although they’re now living and working all across the country, what they started in January 2008 (actually, several months before, with their pre-semester research) continues to be implemented in New Orleans, in Eunice, across Louisiana and beyond, striving to meet the goals of both the class and this organization. As Martha Stewart might say, “That’s a good thing.”