SRU communication students partner with Butler Chamber to spotlight local businesses
Jordan Grady, Slippery Rock University graduate and executive director of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, is the host of Butler Business Now, an online video series produced by SRU students that features local businesses.
Feb. 16, 2022
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — After Jordan Grady became executive director of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce in 2019, he started noticing what other chambers were doing to promote their local businesses. Videos began popping up on social media, especially during the pandemic, with fewer and fewer in-person events occurring. Grady, a Slippery Rock University alumnus, figured he could do that for businesses in Butler County. But instead of grabbing his phone or a GoPro camera and shooting video himself - something he quickly found to be more challenging than he imagined - Grady reached out to his alma mater.
"I've always been big on relationships and there are professors at SRU who impacted me as a professional," said Grady, who earned a finance degree in 2015 and an MBA in 2016. "Even before I started at the chamber, we've always looked for ways to partner with SRU. This year, we're working on a project that's going to highlight some of the large-scale organizations in the county in hopes of shedding some light on the fact that there are good opportunities for college graduates (to work in Butler County)."
Rather than literally connecting to a camera or other device, Grady used his SRU network to get connected to Brittany Fleming, associate professor of strategic communication and media, who is the faculty adviser to WSRU-TV, the student-run television broadcast and video production company at SRU.
Fleming enlisted the help of SRU communication students who produce shows for WSRU-TV and they came up with an online video series titled "Butler Business Now."
"We started going back and forth and the students got to treat Jordan as their client," Fleming said. "They're going through the entire process, such as concept development and working through all the logistics. It's really awesome because they are taking this project very seriously, much like they would for a professional client."
Together, they came up with a long-form, topic-based video that profiles one local business per episode with the intent to produce as many as five during the spring semester.
"We're trying to make it very engaging, something that people will tune into from the very beginning to the very end," said Fleming, of the 20-minute, BBN episodes.
The videos are being posted online in several places, including the chamber's website and social media platforms, as well as the businesses' online assets, and, of course, the WSRU-TV YouTube channel.
Grady serves as the host of BBN recorded from the WSRU-TV studio set inside SRU's Maltby Center.
"I was blown away by the studio and the technology they have available to the students," Grady said. "I've been impressed by the students and Dr. Fleming has been so easy to work; she's been fantastic."
Several students from WSRU-TV are working on the BBN project but so far, the main contributors are Maculley Bell, a senior communication major from Palmyra; Averi Kleigleng, a junior communication major from Monaca; and Robert Gettings, a senior communication major from Cranberry Township.
Bell, the executive producer of BBN, conceived the name of the video series and conducts onsite interviews with business owners, but all the students are heavily involved with the planning, shot selections, filming, editing and post-production.
"I benefit from this project because it's good for my portfolio and showcases what I'm capable of doing," said Bell, an aspiring news anchor and producer. "But honestly, I just enjoy being able to go into these facilities, meet these people who have dedicated their lives to (their businesses) and show others what they do. That's interesting. I like learning about processes and how you get from A to B."
The first episode featured United Plate Glass, a Butler-based company that for more than 40 years has served the commercial and residential glass industry as a major supplier of architectural glass products.
"Once other businesses can see what our students can do, they'll start letting us in and getting approvals," Fleming said. "Jordan has a plan for us, so he's making those connections and then once we establish that relationship with a business, then that's when we jump in and run the show.
"This is a great opportunity for a community-based relationship between the University and Butler County. For the students, it's one of the very first opportunities that they've had to work with a client, rather than just serving an audience by providing news and information. There's more of an emphasis on partnerships. It's such a valuable experience for everyone involved."
The first episode of BBN is now online. More information about WSRU-TV and SRU's communication programs are available on the Strategic Communication and Media Department's webpage.
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