At about noon Monday, May 2, I
realized my capstone was finally over. My honest and first reaction was relief that it was finally all over and that I could relax before graduation. Shortly
after that initial feeling, those emotions turned into a bittersweet sensation
and realization that my time with the RF Branding Group and the Grafton
community was coming to an end.
Throughout your time in college, you think your capstone class is a million years away and that you will never see the day when you actually have to sign up for it. Well, here I was watching my colleagues present our final branding initiative project in my last capstone class with my heart on my shoulder. Watching members of the RF Branding Group present our final campaign made me leave the media innovation lab with such a sense of accomplishment and inspiration.
Each individual in this little agency we created inspired me in different ways. This was the first “agency” type setting I have ever had experience being a part of, which changed me as a person. After four months of learning and getting to know each individual in the agency, it was amazing to watch our efforts unfold in front of my eyes at the final presentation. Although we are all different in so many ways with such different personalities, we all share the same love for Grafton W.Va., and we all put our strategic communication skills to the ultimate test for that community we grew to love.
The RF Branding Group after their final community branding initiative presentation, May 2, 2016.
This project not only created an impacting bond among the agency members, but it was also an everlasting experience for me personally and professionally. I built connections and had experiences I never thought I would come across in college. An example of this was being on television for the first time and going through the experience of my first real-life interview on WBOY12, which I wrote about in a previous post here on this blog. I also met people who truly touched my heart like Peggy Knotts Barney, Vice-Mayor of Grafton. This woman was one of the most kind and genuine individuals I have ever met and would brighten my day every time I saw her. My time in Grafton was filled with these types of positive experiences, emotions, and people.
Along with these experiences, I also got to watch everything I’ve learned in the past four years of college about strategic communications come to life. This community branding initiative really put into perspective to me how strategic communicating, branding, and public relations works in the real world and how important agencies, like the RF Branding Group, can be to small communities.
If I could take away one key factor and lesson from this capstone it would be to always “improvise, overcome, and adapt.” From this class and Dr. Fraustino, I will leave college understanding that not everything goes as planned. In the real world nothing is promised and you will have to adapt to change.
At first, I will admit this concept made me feel uneasy because I am a very structure-orientated individual. Needless to say, I am leaving this class more confident than I have ever been knowing it is okay that everything will not go as planned, and as a strategic communicator it is my job to improvise, overcome, and adapt to these situations. I specifically have my professor and public relations mentor Dr. Julia Daisy Fraustino to thank for having unwavering confidence in my colleagues and myself, especially at times when I know we couldn’t see it in ourselves.
Following the Grafton branding slogan, I was able to create my adventure through this capstone. I realized that I was a part of something bigger than myself and through the ups and downs, I had an experience that made me a much stronger and wiser individual than I was five months ago. The experience the RF Branding Group and the entire Grafton community gave me is something no one can take away from me, and I am proud to have been a part of this community branding initiative. I cannot wait to see how Grafton residents create their adventure and also improvise, overcome, and adapt in the next five years with our community branding initiative plan and campaign book!
Some branded merchandise that the RF Branding Group's creative department created featuring Grafton's new slogan, logo, and website.
My name is Brooke Duddie, and I was a digital media associate of the RF Branding Group. My specific goals were to help Grafton manage more social media platforms and engage with community members and beyond. I’m excited to show off what I put together for Grafton, and I am proud to be a part of this project!