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IMC students present capstone projects to Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation


This summer, graduate students from the West Virginia University Reed College of Media accepted the challenge to develop communications campaigns to promote the preservation of West Virginia treasure, Hillsboro native and Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner Pearl S. Buck.

Capstone students in the college’s Integrated Marketing Communications program worked with the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation to build awareness, support fundraising activities and promote the Hillsboro historical site as a regional and national tourist destination.

This month, the students with the top two campaigns had the opportunity to present their ideas to Kirk Judd, treasurer of the foundation and board representative. Judd said he is thrilled with results.

“The board was knocked out by the IMC proposals for the birthplace. They were very impressed with the professionalism and creativity of the presentations,” Judd said. “I can’t thank you enough, I really appreciate it.”

IMC students Genevieve Williams of Norfolk, Virginia, and Lara Caughman of Chattanooga, Tennessee, delivered the winning campaigns. Both students conducted focus groups to determine target markets, messaging and objectives for their campaigns. But each approached their assignment with a different twist.

Williams’s campaign focused on the Birthplace as a place to learn about one of America’s most illustrious writers, as well as a way to bring American history to life. She targeted her campaign to a niche audience interested in history and likely to travel.

Caughman took the approach of promoting the Birthplace as a place to inspire visitors to be more purposeful in their own lives after learning about Buck’s accomplishments. She selected a target market of middle-aged college-educated women who are seeking experiential vacations.

“Pearl S. Buck was a cultural, literary and social innovator on multiple levels,” Caughman said. “Having the opportunity to create a campaign around the place that inspired her path was personally and professionally rewarding.”

The IMC capstone initiative is an extension of a collaboration between the University and the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation. This partnership began in 2014 as part of a larger mission of outreach and scholarship when WVU, West Virginia Wesleyan College and the Foundation announced that the institutions would form a partnership to preserve and disseminate Buck’s legacy. The first step was for the WVU Libraries to house Buck’s priceless collection of literary manuscripts.

Buck was the first American woman to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature. Buck penned more than 70 books, was an advocate for the less fortunate and a cultural diplomat.



CONTACT: Christa Currey, Communications Director
Reed College of Media
West Virginia University

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Read the official release on WVU Today: