This includes work done as the account director for Martin Hall Agency’s client — The Morgantown Special Committee addressing Unsheltered Homelessness, Education and Outreach Working Group.
One in three Americans are one missed paycheck away from becoming unhoused (CNBC.) Yet talking about issues such as extreme poverty make people uncomfortable.
The Morgantown Committee on Unsheltered Homelessness’ Education and Outreach Working Group was given the challenge of tackling the sometimes uncomfortable conversations that surround houselessness. The group was at a loss for where to even begin.
The solution to their problem? Martin Hall Agency, a student-run advertising and public relations agency in WVU’s Reed College of Media.
From the begining, the client made it clear they did not want the campaign to be based only on feelings; it had to have practical applications. The client wanted to reach several audiences including business owners, longtime residents and local government officials. So the MHA team set out to conduct interviews with members of the target audience. It was quickly discovered that houselessness was a polarizing issue and few people would speak openly about it. The team also conducted ethnographic research by partnering with the street medicine group, Project MUSHROOM. After speaking with members of Morgantown’s unsheltered population, it was clear that regardless of their housing status, unsheltered residents in Morgantown still considered themselves members of the Morgantown community.
This insight was at forefront of all aspects of the campaign. After conducting research it was decided to make dialogue the central focus of the campaign. From there, the Humans of Morgantown or HoM (pronounced “home”) campaign was created. This multifaceted campaign had a digital and physical presence.
This education and awareness campaign culminated in a website; an Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account for HoM; a traveling pop-up exhibit featuring quotes from sheltered and unsheltered Morgantown residents; a presentation to Morgantown City Council’s Committee of the Whole; and a Community Action Poverty Simulation.
Website: Serving as a landing page for HoM, humansofmorgantown.com was created to be a central place for any information relating to HoM.
Social Media: To supplement the website and pop-up exhibit, an Instagram, Twitter and Facebook account were created to showcase stories from Kofi Opoku’s “Faces of Homelessness,” exhibit.
Pop-up exhibit: Using quotes from both sheltered and unsheltered Morgantown residents, a pop-up exhibit was created to see if viewers could tell which resident was unsheltered based on just their quotes.
City Council Presentation: On Nov. 30, 2021, the HoM team presented to the Committee of the Whole. This is a meeting that takes place at the end of each month and allows community members to share information with Morgantown City Council.
Community Action Poverty Simulation: On Dec. 2, 2021, Participants had the opportunity to experience the realities of individuals living in poverty.
Specific duties as account director included managing all client communications, proofing all website, social media and banner copy, coordinating volunteer gifts for the Community Action Poverty Simulation, inviting participants to the Community Action Poverty Simulation and presenting to Morgantown City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
HoM in the news
One objective of this campaign was to educate 50 Morgantown residents, about Humans of Morgantown by Dec. 2021. One strategy to meet this objective was presenting HoM at a city council meeting and securing media coverage for the presentation.
- The HoM project appeared in the Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s Independent Student Newspaper.
- The HoM campaign appeared on WBOY, a local broadcast station based in Clarksburg, W. Va. that covers North Central W. Va.
- HoM also appeared in WV News, a digital publication based in North Central W. Va.
Refining and growing skills such as public speaking and team management were essential to being an effective account director. Knowledge of WordPress, MailChimp and Canva was also helpful in this role, because the HoM website is housed on WordPress, MailChimp was used to invite participants to the Community Action Poverty Simulation and Canva was used to create the pop-up exhibit.
One challenge that was overcome as account director was managing different working styles across a large team. Nine people made up the HoM team and each person came in with a different skill set and working style. By maintaining open and honest communication among team members, this team was able to overcome miscommunication obstacles. As for team members who came in with less skill and knowledge, they were encouraged every step of the way. By praising good work and gently guiding work that needed improvement, this team was able to plan and execute an education and awareness campaign that will help create a more welcoming Morgantown.