Four Mizzou Seniors Conduct Historic Preservation Survey for Course Final

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By Michelle Brooks
Jefferson City (Mo.) News Tribune
Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 – 12:26:00 CDT

A strong majority of local business professionals say they support historic preservation in Jefferson City.

That’s according to a survey conducted as part of a Strategic Communications course at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.

The results show 79 percent of those surveyed support historic preservation, while 16 percent were indifferent and 5 percent oppose it.

Steve Veile, Kate Remick, Heather John, Allison Mang and Sarah Hansom
Professor Steve Veile, left, Kate Renick, back center, Heather John, back right, Allison Mang, front left, and Sarah Hansom, front right, enjoy dinner at O’Donoghue’s Restaurant after completing their presentation to the Historic City of Jefferson. Photo by Stephen Brooks/News Tribune

Maybe elected officials will consider that the majority of their constituents feel this way, said Jenny Smith, board member for Historic City of Jefferson, the client for the capstone project.

The team of four Mizzou seniors – Kate Renick, Allison Mang, Heather John and Sarah Hansom – presented the “Strategic Campaign” to the local historic preservation organization and elected officials last week.

It also was their course final, said Steve Veile, who has taught the strategic communications course for seven years.

The research-based project culminated the students’ knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their J-School studies.

“This was not a made-up client,” Renick said. “We got to do something real and tangible, like KOMU or the Missourian (for broadcast and print journalism students).”

The bottom-line of the project was, “historic preservation is an investment in the economy,” Hansom said. “It’s preserving a sense of place. There are successes all across the U.S.”

Mang added, “Historic City of Jefferson has an opportunity to create a bridge; historic preservation is holistic. (Rehabilitation) can generate income while preserving history.”

“HCJ was founded on emotion; we love these old buildings,” Smith said. “But that doesn’t strike a chord in the community. The economic benefits do.”

Smith said the strategic campaign’s proposed brand, “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” will be a good talking point.

Spring 2007 Campaigns Clients

Missouri students enrolled in the Strategic Campaigns course have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of for-profit and nonprofit clients. Banking, education and recreation are among the industries represented in this client roster.

“They’ve convinced me we need to use different language when convincing the public of the value of historic preservation and its economic benefits and environmental impact,” Smith said.

Mayor John Landwehr agreed he liked the positive approach suggested by the research.

“Their recommendations are more of a challenge to the historic preservation (community) than they might think,” Landwehr said. “I hope they take the challenge.”

The strategic campaign also encourages the Historic City of Jefferson to develop special events – like the historic homes tour 1-4 p.m. June 3 along Moreau Drive – to draw the public into revitalized districts and properties, Mang said.

“We found the general consensus was that a visual demonstration of successes were important; then historic preservation makes sense,” Mang said.

So, the team identified a key demographic in the community, one that would have the greatest impact if their attitudes toward historic preservation were swayed in support – working, small families aged between 35-60 with a college education and an annual income greater than $55,000.

“This was not to promote the Historic City of Jefferson, but to look at community attitudes toward historic preservation,” Veile said. “They put together a plan to help the community think differently about historic preservation, how to change attitudes and minds to become more accepting.”

This capstone course has helped other local businesses and not-for-profits, including the Diocese of Jefferson City’s Vocations office and the Council for Drug-Free Youth. Contact Veile at 635-3265, for more information.

“They kept track of their time, like a real agency,” Veile said. “This project literally is worth about $15,-20,000. It’s a great value for a business or organization.”

Note: In addition to Veile, course instructors included Janet Wear Enloe, Lisa Fischer, Scott Fuenfhausen, Todd Fuller, Mike Kane and Susanne Medley. For information about becoming a campaigns client, please contact Kathy Sharp.

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