College of Arts and Sciences

Public relations class takes on real-world issues

You can not get the flu from the flu shot

The nine slides in this slideshow are a representation of the creativity that students in Professor Ma's class used to promote the flu shot and use of the BioButton.

Communicaions, public relations, covid-19, virus, influenza, flu, flu shot, immunization

icon of a calendarDecember 14, 2020

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Public relations class takes on real-world issues
Professor Zexin (Marsha) Ma asked her students, divided into groups, to address how they would help build recognition and support about the importance of getting a flu shot and how to generate interest and support for OU’s latest tool in the fight against COVID-19, the BioButton.

Professor Zexin (Marsha) Ma, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism and Public Relations, challenged her External Public Relations (PR3510) students this semester to take on two real-world projects.

She asked the students, divided into groups, to address how they would help build recognition and support about the importance of getting a flu shot and how to generate interest and support for OU’s latest tool in the fight against COVID-19, the BioButton. They were tasked with doing this through written reports and an oral presentation that outlined each client, situation and audience, as well as the goals, objectives, strategies and tactics they used in their campaigns.

image of flu vaccine myths

The PR3510 students created valuable graphics
and flu shot social media messages

From there, they executed actual public relations campaigns on their topics and learned good ways to collaborate and communicate effectively while working remotely.

“I wanted this class project to allow my students to apply what they have learned in class to solve real-world problems,” said Professor Ma. “By working closely with the university’s Graham Health Center and other administrators, students got to experience the operative skills of a public relations specialist, and more importantly, they were able to directly contribute to and enhance Oakland’s campus health and safety. It is also my hope that students will gain a sense of purpose and feel further motivated to explore career paths in which they can continue to effect change.”

biobutton efficacy image
The students also created important
informational BioButton/COVID-19 messages

The students achieved their goals by producing social media posts, graphics and a video to provide actionable ideas that support getting the flu vaccine and slowing the spread of COVID-19 through the BioButton.

Check out the student-created BioButton video

They also brought forward some unique ideas like hosting a Flu Shot Trivia Night on Instagram to address misconceptions of the vaccine, hosting a virtual forum for students to address their health concerns about the flu and COVID-19 and designing a QR code to provide a link to info about the BioButton as a tool to fight COVID-19.

Professor Ma added that, “Dr. David Stone (VP for Research) and Nancy Jansen from the Graham Health Center have been extremely supportive by serving as our ‘clients’ for this class project. Given how busy they are, I appreciate all the time and efforts that they have devoted to help my students complete their project successfully.”

Summarizing the semester, Ma said, “All of my students have been very enthusiastic about this project because they care about the health and safety of our OU community. Each team in my class managed to meet and work remotely every week despite the pandemic, and I am very proud of them and deeply appreciate what they have done with their projects to help keep our community safe and bring new ideas to the table when it comes to the flu vaccine and the BioButton.”

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