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Student-Crafted Messages to Be Broadcast Locally on Cable TV


Public-service announcements created for area nonprofit clients by students in the mass media communication major at Pennsylvania College of Technology will air locally on cable television.

The students are enrolled in an advanced digital media production course offered by the college’s School of Integrated Studies. They worked in teams to produce the video announcements for various nonprofit groups.

SusCom, the cable-service provider for the Williamsport area, has donated airtime to run the PSAs on its cable stations. Each 30-second spot will air 100 times a week for three weeks between April 10 and Sept. 24.

The topic messages, clients, air dates and students who produced the announcements are:

  • Blood donations Northcentral Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, April 10-30, Brenton S. Kelly, Huntingdon, and Heidi J. Wheeland, Cogan Station (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • People helping people American Rescue Workers, May 1-21, James E. Boyd, Coal Township; Clayton B. Gessner, Mifflinburg; and Jonathan R. Plank, Liberty (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Arts education Saint John’s School of the Arts, May 22-June 11, Abiel B. Harry, Williamsport; Brady W. Hartman, Williamsport; and Carolyn R. Vito, Nesquehoning (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Bullying prevention Williamsport Area School District, June 12-July 2, Michael J. Barnett, Montoursville; Jessica M. Evans, Middlebury Center; Justin M. Sylvester, Altoona; and Bradley J. Rockwell, Rome (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Childhood obesity Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition, July 3-23, Erin K. Fern, Middlebury, and Melissa M. Lucas, Williamsport (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Fire safety Williamsport Bureau of Fire/Fire Prevention Division, July 24-Aug. 13, Richard A. Blase, Williamsport; Julie M. Reppert, Myerstown; and Astin J. White, Danville (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Secondhand smoke American Lung Association, Aug. 14-Sept. 3, Anthony J. Mazzullo, Williamsport, and Justin D. Wilcott, Bloomsburg (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)
  • Drunk driving West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, Sept. 4-24, Joshua J. Beitler, Kempton; Matt A. Dennis, Dover; and Samuel A. Mancuso, Erie (QuickTime version) (Windows Media version)

“There are many local nonprofit organizations who have great programs to promote to the community, but they generally do not have the finances or personnel to create their own 30-second commercials,” said SusCom Sales Manager Mike Loeh. “SusCom is excited to partner with Penn College in bringing these important messages and information into the homes of over 37,000 SusCom customers in the Greater Williamsport area. We’re pleased to offer over $24,000 in advertising inventory to help promote the talents of Penn College students and the many worthwhile programs of the various nonprofit organizations in our area.”

The seven-week project began in January, when each student pitched an idea, and the classes voted for the strongest. Each team identified a nonprofit client based on its theme and presented the client with the team’s initial concept, seeking additional input on the announcement’s content and message.

“I realized how much of a challenge it is with time constraints, and that you really have to compromise when working with a client and be open to new ideas,” Boyd said.

Following this meeting, the students formulated the message, created storyboards and shot lists, and identified locations and actors. Once preproduction was finalized, the students began the production phase, shooting footage on location using college-owned video cameras, tripods and other equipment. Once all footage was shot, the teams edited a rough-cut version to present to the client. After making any necessary changes and tweaking the final version, teams received approval from their clients to have the spots aired on SusCom.

“It felt like we were doing a job for a business,” Beitler said. “It gave us a lot of freedom and responsibility to do what we wanted, but with also following our company’s wishes and concerns. It didn’t feel like a school project, but more as if we were out in the real world at a real job.”

According to Bruce E. Huffman, instructor of media arts and video production at Penn College, the project helps students understand the strengths and challenges of working on a production team and what it’s like to work with and be responsible to a client.

“The project was a really useful ‘career-world’ experience,” Fern said. “It allowed us to work with clients and have deadlines that needed to be met. This project was different from other projects we have had to complete in the past. We were no longer just working for ourselves; we were creating a product with someone else?s reputation attached to it.”

Anne Keely, director of Saint John’s School of the Arts, said: “The students were wonderful to work with. They were full of creative ideas, and the finished product was very professional. They did a fine job interpreting the philosophy and purpose of the Saint John’s School of the Arts, as well as highlighting local music and fine-arts opportunities. I applaud the work of the Penn College students, as well as SusCom’s support of arts education in our community.”

For more information about the mass media communication major and other programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, call (570) 327-4521, send e-mail or visit online.

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