Students sitting behind PeaceHealth Rides boothStory by Randy Newnham

Never underestimate the power of a student-run agency.

That’s the lesson that Eugene, Oregon, learned in October 2017, when the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s student-run public relations agency, Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR), helped make PeaceHealth Rides a huge local success.

At the time, the bike-sharing service was on the verge of launching in Eugene. But when the results came in from a third-party analysis, the program’s prospects were not looking good. The report projected the program would fall short of its goal and not be viable in the long term.

Allen Hall PR students filming for PeaceHealth Rides campaignUndeterred, PeaceHealth Rides reached out AHPR to help get the word out. In the six months leading up to the launch, the student-led agency put the rubber to the asphalt to generate traditional media coverage and a social media campaign.

“We brought eyes and ears to an organization and project that hadn’t had that kind of visibility,” said Cole Garry ’18, an SOJC alum and AHPR account executive who worked on the project. “Our team got PeaceHealth Rides in front of key media stakeholders for the right reasons.”

The publicity made all the difference. In its first month, over 3,700 Eugene-area riders logged over 28,000 miles on PeaceHealth Rides bikes — more than triple the forecast. Since then, the program has added Eugene to the map as one of the smallest cities in the nation with an environmentally conscious bikeshare service.

“Students grossly underestimate the impact that they can have on an organization,” said Garry. “Allen Hall PR gives you the opportunity to work directly with clients and media, and more students should recognize the value in that.”

Randy Newnham, a senior majoring in public relations in the UO School of Journalism and Communication, would rather be pulling espresso shots and playing board games. But the world needs at least one more social media manager, and Randy has risen to the challenge. Together, with the plucky band of underdogs that is his family, Randy fights dirty for social justice. Randy can be found on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn and in various coffee shops around Eugene.