This unprecedented time in our lives has been a difficult adjustment for us college students, there’s no doubt about that. As I was preparing for my summer internship in Connecticut, it was soon canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I found myself frustrated and feeling hopeless at this loss because I was excited about what this professional opportunity was going to bring me.
As I was in despair, my friend Nick reached out to me, and he asked if I wanted to create a newspaper for our hometown, the west side of Cincinnati. Of course, I couldn’t say no. I often search for opportunities, but I thought it would be great to create my own. So that is what I did. The Strange Times Newspaper became such a great passion project for me to focus on amid our crazy world. Our purpose was simple: to bring joy into our community’s lives during this difficult time. For about a month, I delved into this work. It was great to have a team, each person with different interests and talents, come together to strengthen our efforts.
I put together a website from scratch and had to teach myself how to measure analytics. I had to think creatively in the way I structured the said website; I designed a “Teams” page to introduce each member and an “About” page that gave our mission statement. I started a Facebook and Instagram page that I utilized to post each story we had for every issue. I had to strategize how I wanted to do this, and I posted one story almost every day. One new technique I utilized to increase engagement was a bingo board and a “this or that” template. We had friends, peers and their followers get involved because it was something they were excited and familiar with since we targeted our local community.
I reached out to people in my network to share this project. This expanded to the point of being on the local news, and even being featured in the Ohio University news. When this project was finished, I looked back proudly at all of my accomplishments, feeling confident that I learned so much more than I would have without it.
My advice to you is this: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. There’s no right or wrong way to try something new. Be bold and realize that the knowledge you’ve gained thus far will be a great assist to you. So whether you’re in the middle of a global pandemic or back to normalcy, I challenge you to find something creative to do for the betterment of those around you—I mean, that’s what PR is all about!