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Communication & Media

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Public relations professor encourages students to explore non-profit publicity

10/02/2007

Second-year professor Sandrine Dincki has helped shift the curriculum for Public Relations in the Communication and Media department at SUNY New Paltz and is encouraging her students to explore non-profit publicity.

In the fall semester of 2006, in her first semester at the college, Dr. Dincki had her students compete in developing a strategic plan for a fund raising campaign led by the college and designed to raise money from faculty and staff to help with student projects. The winning plan was also presented to the college’s office of Public Affairs and many of its components were used to develop the actual fund-raising campaign.

Professor Dincki also believes that websites like Myspace and YouTube can be used to “disseminate messages about causes and get away from the notion of advertising.” Professor Dincki hopes to show her students that they can use public relations to be activists for a cause and make changes in society that they never imagined having the power to accomplish.

Last year Professor Dincki became the newest Public Relations professor at SUNY New Paltz. She has a PhD in Communication & Rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Her dissertation, titled “MoveOn.org and e-motion: the Paradox of Cyberactivism in Consumer Society,” set the tone for her teaching career here at New Paltz.

MoveOn.org is an online political advocacy group. “The group started making headlines in 1998 with one of the first wildly successful online petitions designed as a protest against President Clinton’s impeachment,” Professor Dincki explained. “It later established itself as a significant political player and it was able to raise millions of dollars online from small donors.”

This semester, Dincki is teaching three classes: New Media Landscapes, Introduction to Public Relations, and Theories of Persuasion.

New Media Landscapes provides students with an overview of the new media, also known as digital media, with a focus on the new media's impact on communication practices and social/cultural/political institutions in the US. The goal, she says, is to help students become responsible online communicators, both as individuals and as professionals. "New Media do not conform to the broadcasting model, which favors a one-to-many type of communication," says Professor Dincki.

Introduction to Public Relations is a class designed to introduce students to the role of public relations in society as well as help develop the skills that are necessary to understand and create material that exists in the public relations industry. Last semester, Dr. Dincki’s students competed in choosing a name and developing a strategic plan and materials for ReUse2ReDuce, a campaign aimed at promoting donations to dorm inhabitants at the end of the semester in order to reduce waste.

Theories of Persuasion analyzes the social aspects of persuasion, cultural bases for belief, and theories of attitude change, as well as the principles and processes of motivating human behavior in a variety of contexts.

Professor Dincki, who is a native of France, says she fell in love with teaching during her first year at New Paltz. Although Dincki has plans to work in the non-profit sector in the future, she hopes to devote herself to teaching for several years first. Professor Dincki wants her students to see things they have never seen and continue being motivated by her. She also hopes her students will "start looking at the society we live in with a more critical eye" and "value curiosity more."