Last semester, Dr. Colee Splichal’s Public Relations Campaigns class created the campaign for the 20th anniversary of the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center, which will take place in January 2016. The class, STC 436, is a capstone for the public relations major in which seniors apply what they have learned in the last four years to develop a campaign for a real-world client. The students created everything from a unique logo to the anniversary party, which will be held at the wellness center in February 2016.
“I had to tell them from the beginning this isn’t like any other class you’ve had,” Splichal said.
The campaign came about when Splichal learned that Mike Piacentino, who graduated from the University of Miami in 2014 and who now works at the Herbert Wellness Center, was looking for help to plan the 20th anniversary.
“After that we sort of left it up to the students and we sort of said, ‘This campaign is primarily targeting UM students, they are UM students,’” Piacentino said, “So we wanted to see what they came up with and what they thought would resonate most with students and also our faculty, staff, and alumni.”
First, the students had to do a lot of research. According to Splichal, Norm Parsons, a past executive director of the Herbert Wellness Center, came to the class twice to answer questions. The students looked through old student newspapers and yearbooks, and even a box of items that Norm Parsons had collected and left when he retired from the wellness center.
Eventually the class broke up into groups. Gabi Reyes, Chloe Di Pietro, David, O’Connell, Holly Houser, and Victoria Valdes played significant roles in the creation of the campaign.
Gabi Reyes, one of the two team captains, said that she helped strategize the campaign in its entirety. She came up with the big 2-0 on the logo and the idea of doing something different for each month of the 2015-2016 school year. Reyes is now a junior account executive at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a top public relations firm.
“Whatever I learned doing the Herbert Wellness Center [campaign] kind of transferred very easily into some of the projects that I’ve worked on,” Reyes said.
Chloe Di Pietro was the leader of the tactical team. Though she wasn’t a part of the design aspect of the logo, she helped decide what should influence the logo, what colors should be used, etc. Di Pietro said that it took pretty much the whole semester to come up with the finished product because there were so many aspects to take into consideration. According to Piacentino, the logo the students first produced looked nothing like the final logo.
“When they finally sort of settled on the general look, they probably presented to me 20 different versions with different fonts, slightly different colors, just slightly minute little differences,” Piacentino said.
David O’Connell was the main designer of the logo. He said that they wanted to make a logo that was easily recognizable and could be identified as the wellness center. The hardest part about the process for O’Connell was finding a common ground with the people at the wellness center on what the design of the logo should be.
Once the final logo was decided upon, Piacentino sent it to central communications.
“They were very pleased to see that our own students, University of Miami students, had come up with something that was so professional and complete and captured the whole spirit and essence,” Piacentino said.
Holly Houser, the other team captain, helped to create material for and to put together the written plan that was produced at the end of the campaign. Houser is now working as the communications coordinator at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
“This was the most ‘real world’ class I’ve ever had,” Houser said. “I think it truly prepared me to go into the workforce.”
Victoria Valdes’ role in the campaign was to plan the anniversary party. She explained how the Herbert Wellness Center will be transformed to celebrate its history. According to Valdes, the main foyer will represent the wellness center’s past and present, illustrated by a timeline video and banners of people that are currently a part of the wellness center, such as students and staff. Then, guests will go up the staircase into the gymnasium, which will represent the future of the wellness center.
Valdes said that part of the goal of the campaign was to highlight all the aspects of wellness, not just physical fitness.
“It’s a part of the UM community and a lot of students think that it’s just a place to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but it’s so much more than that,” Valdes said.
To fulfill this goal, there will be booths for each letter of PIESSOG, which stands for all of the different components that make up wellness. P – physical, I – intellectual, E – emotional, S – social, S – spiritual, O – occupational, and G – global. There will be activities at each booth that relates to its respective dimension of wellness.
“The idea is you want to connect to your target in a memorable way and in an immediate way,” Valdes said.
Valdes is now doing public relations for both her mom’s and her dad’s businesses. Her dad and brother run Pinecrest Bakery and her mom ironically runs a wellness center in Brickell called The House of Movement.
“With the tools that I’ve learned in Splichal’s class, I plan to create a campaign for The House of Movement Wellness Studio to bring people through the door,” Valdes said.
Myranda Tarr is a public relations major who works at the Herbert Wellness Center. While she was not around for the creation of the campaign, she was able to help put it into effect. Tarr, who will be taking the campaigns class in a couple of semesters, said that this has given her the opportunity to see beforehand the kind of work the students do.
“Everything I’m learning through the projects I’m given here is something I take to my classes and definitely something I’ll be taking to whatever job I get after I graduate,” Tarr said.
Piacentino and Scott Levin, the executive director of the Herbert Wellness Center, said that the logo is being used on everything and anything. It can be found printed on t-shirts, towels, mugs, and banners in the wellness center and on social media as well as on all of the wellness center’s printed materials. There are also banners on light poles around campus printed with the logo and a quote by a faculty member about the wellness center.
“It’s only for a year, so we want to get everything out there,” Levin said.
“We actually wanted to and are using a lot of what they came up with, so I think they took that very seriously and presented something professional and useful,” Piacentino said. “It wasn’t just another class project that a professor grades and they move on. It’s something that actually had an impact on a department at this university.”
Di Pietro said that she first saw the logo in use on a picture of towel on Instagram.
“I cried!” said Di Pietro. “To see it on a towel, it might not be a big deal to some people, but to us it was an accomplishment that not many campaign students get to reach.”