Indiana University students develop public relations campaign for local market
Public relations students create a PR strategy to increase customers and members at community co-op
CommunityLost River Market and Deli, Paoli, IN
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeProject Stories
DisciplineBusiness, Public Relations
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
Local co-op encourages community development through food and agriculture
The Lost River Market and Deli is a member-owned local food co-op and association which serves “local growers, producers, and consumers by providing goods, services, and healthy food choices at fair value” (Lost River). More than just a place to purchase food, Lost River strives to promote its values through community development. The Paoli-based co-op needed to expand its customer and membership base in order to continue to grow its business and remain a sustainable source of local food.
Building a public relations campaign to attract new business
Moving forward, Lost River Market and Deli partnered with the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University. This project involved Minjeong Kang’s public relations campaigns course in the media school. Student participants, in collaboration with community partner Debbie Turner from Lost River, worked to develop a comprehensive public relations plan aimed at expanding the co-op’s membership base. This involved meeting with owners, customers and non-customers and identifying the co-op’s strengths and weaknesses.
An original strategy geared towards future prosperity
Kang’s public relations students produced three campaign books outlining their research and implementation plan. Their recommendations, tailored to the co-op’s needs, have the potential to raise awareness and promote greater participation in this vital community center. With new customers and members comes new opportunities for expanded programming, food offerings, and collaboration with Orange County farmers, food distributors, and food lovers.
A co-op like the Lost River Market and Deli is a valuable community asset and a platform for food and health education. Students participating in this project used their public relations skills to convey that, attracting new customers and volunteers and ensuring its longevity.
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