Public relations capstone group work with local animal shelter

This is the official Belmont County Animal Shelter logo that was designed by Brianna Hamon, Kenley George, Kayla Deem and Lizzy Griffith. The official logo was created by graphic design student, Julie Schuetz.

A West Liberty University public relations capstone project group is working alongside the Belmont County Animal Shelter. Group members Brianna Hamon, Lizzy Griffith, Kenley George and Kayla Deem are helping the shelter with social media output, event organization and public outreach.

Students majoring in public relations at WLU are required to complete a capstone project, usually as a senior, to help gain more reality based, workplace experience. Hamon, Griffith, George and Deem decided quickly that working with a local animal shelter would be the most rewarding experience for them. “We all feel lucky that we get to work with the shelter,” said George. “We know we’re helping them, we’re helping the animals, and they’re also helping us learn and giving us real life experience.”

The team formed a strong bond with the Belmont County Animal Shelter and were able to see from early on how they could put their skills to good use. “After seeing Belmont, we decided they could use our services more than some of the other animal shelters in the area…We started working with them as soon they contacted us,” said Hamon.

The group has set out to aid the shelter in a number of ways by helping them arrange events and build on their community outreach skills. After agreeing to work together, the shelter asked for the group’s help regarding their logo. “The reason they wanted a new logo is because they’re currently the only county run shelter and right now they’re using the county seal as their logo, so when people see them they rarely associate it with being a shelter,” said Hamon. “So, part of our project is helping them rebrand and helping them get their brand identity out there with the new logo.”

After drafting some initial designs for the new logo, the group reached out to WLU’s advanced graphic design class to create the final development. “Kayla and Brianna presented them with what we were thinking and then the students in that class created ten logos for us,” said George. The final design, created by graphic design major Julie Schuetz, was released last week and can be seen on the shelter’s social media pages. George said, “We chose her logo and everyone at the shelter loves it. They’ve been putting it everywhere and we love it too.”

A big part of the rebranding process for the shelter revolves around social media. The shelter used social media in a limited capacity before the group’s arrival and the four are looking to sharpen up Belmont County Animal Shelter’s online appearance. The group is in the process of setting up and revamping the shelter’s social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. “I definitely think that social media is something that I would like to work with,” said George. “I’m doing a social media internship right now so doing that and working with the Belmont County Animal Shelter on their social media, that interests me a lot.”

The group is also helping the shelter with event organization. The capstone group, Belmont County Animal Shelter, and Belmont County Cat Stray Shun, another local animal welfare organization the capstone students are helping, are working alongside Jordan’s Way Home, an animal welfare organization that brings attention to the animals in need of rehoming and raises funds for the shelter.

The event is scheduled to take place on March 9 from 6-10 p.m. The four-hour event will be streamed live on Facebook while donations can be made via PayPal. Each contribution will prompt some sort of reaction from the shelter staff and associates such as a pie in the face or ice bucket challenge.

The group is also helping to plan a dine and donate event for the shelter which is scheduled for May 4 in partnership with the Belmont County Cat Stray Shun. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go directly to the Belmont County Animal Shelter. Preparation is still in the planning stages, but the team intend on having a variety of fun activities such as a raffle.

Though the WLU capstone students are aiding the shelter with a public relations campaign, the shelter is helping to make the process an enjoyable one for the group. “They help us in any capacity that we need,” said Deem. “When we ask them for any additional information that we need, they’re always really prompt at responding.”

George said, “They’re all super busy too so when we need something, and they answer not too long afterwards it’s really nice to know that they’re there if we need them.”

Now at the halfway point of their capstone project, the group have picked up steam having been interviewed by a variety of local news distributors. “I always assumed we were going to struggle with getting the word out there in terms of news and local newspapers, but we’ve been officially working for about two weeks now and we’ve already interviewed with News-9, WTRF, The Intelligencer, and The Times Leader,” said Hamon.

To stay up to date with the latest work from the group and the Belmont County Animal Shelter, follow them on social media and tune in to next week’s Facebook Live event in conjunction with Jordan’s Way.