University Park

Student-run Happy Valley Communications offers professional experience

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Having hands-on experience can help job applicants stand out when entering the work force, and being involved with an organization that enhances skill and ability offers students a way to gain that experience. For Penn State students, especially those majoring public relations, marketing and other communications fields, the student organization Happy Valley Communications gives them relevant experience to add to their resumes and skill sets.

Happy Valley Communications, better known as HVC, is a student-run public relations firm at University Park that resembles the operations of a professional public relations firm. Founded in 2009 by Jessi Janiec, Lottie Rummel and Laura Peck under faculty adviser Linda Feltman, HVC is designed to provide students with the opportunity to practice professional public relations skills while working within the Penn State community.

"We had a vision to create a mutually beneficial relationship for aspiring public relations professionals and the community," Janiec said. "We wanted HVC members to go to their internships and job interviews with confidence and be a real asset to their workplace."

"Our account associate position is the closest to an entry-level position within a firm," added current executive director Cait Gossert. "Our account executives are the senior-level staff members and 'team leaders' that work directly with the client, and our directors are the upper-level management, the CEO (executive director), CCO (director of communication) and CFO/Senior VP (director of business)."

The firm became a University-recognized organization just last year, but already consists of around 50 members and six clients. HVC's current clients include the Penn State Computer Store and Innoblue.

A previous example of HVC's success was seen through client Advanced Vehicle Technology Team, Penn State's entry in EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge. As a team, account executive Dana Bubonovich and her account associates were able to help Penn State's EcoCAR team win the Best Social Networking Award in 2009. The PR team increased their client's media relations by 400 percent, held more than 50 outreach events, created a successful relationship with WTAJ-TV and worked with State College, Pa. Mayor Elizabeth Goreham to create a guerilla marketing campaign called "Live Green."

Last April, the Office of Student Activities selected HVC to receive the Outstanding New Student Organization Award for 2010-11 for its contribution to the entire University Park community.

Janiec believes HVC is a beneficial experience because it's the perfect opportunity for students to take all they learn from the classroom, past experiences and other organizations and put it into action. "Working with real clients gives students experiences for their portfolios and helps them realize the do's and don'ts of the industry," she said.

In its first two years HVC has seen high levels of success, but members are already looking at the potential the organization has for the future.

"Ideally, I want HVC to become so well known for excellence that it's a reason why PR majors choose Penn State," Gossert said.

HVC continues to reach out to a variety of organizations beyond the College of Communications.

"This could be a great opportunity for any student who wants to meet friends, gain real-world experience and have fun supporting their clients and community," Janiec said.

For further information regarding HVC, visit online.

A public relations team from the student organization Happy Valley Communications helped Penn State's entry in EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge earn the competition's Best Social Networking Award. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated September 16, 2011