Former California Lutheran University student Professor Jean Sandlin, who has a doctorate degree of education, has partnered with an outside business network to create projects for her advanced public relations and advertising students. The California Green Business Network aims to work with Cal Lutheran students in promoting their services to small and midsize businesses in the following sectors: office and retail, restaurants, garment cleaning, hotel/hospitality, landscaping and auto repair.
“I always like to do experiential learning and service projects. The students are really going to be involved in understanding why research is so important, both in advertising and public relations. These are issues that organizations really struggle with and it’s helpful for both classes,” Sandlin said.
CaGBN is a nonprofit organization that oversees programs operated by cities and counties throughout California. Businesses that apply receive personal attention from the public agencies to help them become green certified. The students are working with the city of Thousand Oaks and Ventura County to get in contact with businesses that want to become green certified.
According to the course syllabus, the project aims to outline a better understanding of the factors that persuade a business to become green certified. Students in the advanced public relations course will conduct interviews with businesses while students in the advertising course will create a campaign promoting these businesses to consumers within the area.
Courtney Lindberg, a supervisor at the Environmental Sustainability Division of Ventura, said she believes that knowing an audience is crucial for a business to grow and when businesses are applying to become green certified, they have to know how to market themselves. Lindberg is in full support of the CaGBN to provide its eco-friendly advice.
“So often there’s a misinterpretation between a business and a city official. Maybe they’ve had a strange relationship in the past. To have this program, they can be marketed and celebrated,” Lindberg said.
According to Lindberg, money is a game changer when it comes to a green certified business. Small businesses pride themselves in being eco-friendly because they don’t spend as much money on printing paper and they can appeal to a wider audience.
In order to inspire measurable action, Sandlin’s students will encourage initiatives to get business owners on the right track. These actions include visiting the California Green Business Network website, indicating interest through an in-person source and inviting a speaker to attend a business meeting where certification is a main topic.
“When students really feel a sense of urgency to get this project a real solution, it’s wonderful to position them in the marketplace for a career. My outcomes are really looking at student learning,” Sandlin said.
To be green certified in one city may mean an entire different set of credentials in another city. Sophomore Clara Berks said that so far, it’s been quite the professional experience.
“For me, what’s exciting about it is it’s not learning from a textbook. It’s getting a real life example of how our skills in the classroom can be applied,” Berks said.
Sandlin’s Advanced Public Relations course is offered every spring. Each year, she tries to tackle different projects that are cohesive in nature and represent real life strategies.
Published February 10th, 2015