Twenty-one Valley City State University (VCSU) students in Jonna Ziniel's public relations course have applied their PR skills to a real-world application--creating promotional videos for the Sheyenne Valley National Scenic Byway and Valley City Convention and Visitors Bureau. The 21 students in the VCSU class have created 18 videos, each 2-5 minutes long, highlighting locations in and around Valley City.
Using university video and still cameras and working in groups of five and six, the VCSU students crafted the videos from footage and still photos they shot, along with interviews of relevant individuals. The videos were produced using video-editing software on the students' university-furnished laptops.
(VCSU issues laptop computers to all full-time students, with a high-speed wireless network available throughout campus. The university began the laptop program in the 1996-97 academic year, becoming the first university in North Dakota--and the second university in the United States--to do so.)
The public relations course, Communication 314 in the VCSU catalog, comprises many professional communication, business administration, and fisheries and wildlife majors. Those students, along with others who take the course as an elective, provide a good mix in the classroom, according to Ziniel, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from North Dakota State University and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.
"It's good to see different backgrounds," says Ziniel, in her fifth year of teaching at VCSU. "That variety produces different perspectives, and that's valuable in the classroom and in these video projects."
Mary Lee Nielson, marketing coordinator for both the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway and the Valley City Convention and Visitors Bureau, is appreciative of the work the VCSU students have done. "We're fortunate to have Valley City State University to use as a resource," said Nielson. "We now have 18 videos that can be used to help market Valley City and the Sheyenne River Valley. It's great to see how VCSU students view the community around them."
Nielsen approached Ziniel about the possibility of creating some short tourism videos, and Ziniel was quick to realize the opportunity it presented for her students. Nielsen will also offer the videos for use by the Valley Ciy Chamber of Commerce and the Valley City Development Group.
The video assignment was well received by Ziniel's students. "It was a way for us to give back to Valley City," said Preston Jensen, a VCSU senior and one of the PR students.
The student-created videos can be found online at www.youtube.com/user/ValleyCityChamber1
Students in the class include Dillan Anderson, Kristine Dammel, Derek Elliott, Justin Erby, Carlton Fearon, Christopher Embden, Caitlin Giesbrecht, Preston Jensen, Matthew Kietzman, Jacob Krause, Augustus Kueber, Brandon Meyer, Melinda Olauson, Asuncion Pathen, John Raquel, Philip Reuer, John Sayler, Brandon Sevik, Margaret Silvernail, Anthony Trautman, and Anna Weisenburger.