Next week, a group West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism students will travel to Italy to meet with their international client and present their work as public relations practitioners.

Led by senior lecturer Chuck Harman, the students formed their own agency, American Activist Agency, and have spent the spring semester communicating with and building a promotional campaign for the Italian-based non-profit organization Cittadinanzattiva.

Cittadinanzattiva is a patient advocacy organization that works to educate Italian citizens on their rights as individuals and patients regarding healthcare. Designed to protect the rights of Italian citizens, Cittadinanzattiva has widespread influence across Italy and the European Union with more than 115,000 networks, associations, groups and individual partners. They have been working toward protecting and educating the citizens of Italy since 1978 when they were founded.

In 2001, Cittadinanzattiva created the Active Citizenship Network as an informal network of European civic organizations to empower citizens to participate in European policy-making. Since 2007, ACN and Cittadinanzattiva has participated the European Union’s annual Patients’ Rights Day, a conference that highlights best practices focused on what healthcare services, civic associations and governments are doing in empowering citizens.

Working on behalf of Cittadinanzattiva and ACN, the students of American Activist Agency are tasked with promoting the seventh annual Patients’ Rights Day in the European Union, to be held in Brussels, Belgium, on May 16.

The students’ work focuses on traditional and social media outreach to engage citizens in the European Union regarding their rights as patients with universal healthcare. Serving as the non-profit’s PR agency, the students are building a comprehensive promotions plan to increase media coverage and digital engagement for the event.

Michael Fulton, president of the Arnold Agency in the Washington, D.C. office and School of Journalism alumnus, is serving as a mentor to the students based on his years of agency experience.

During WVU’s spring break, Harman will accompany the students as they travel to Cittadinanzattiva’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, to present their campaign plan.

“This experience offers a unique learning opportunity for global public relations,” Harman said. “The students are subjected to many of the variables that are present in a real public relations agency, such as client communications, working with the media, deadlines and outcomes.”

Following the trip, students will assist in executing the plan in conjunction with Cittadinanzattiva.

“We are working to create a campaign that extends not only outside of the classroom but outside of the country,” said public relations student Giuliana Napolitano of Morgantown, W.Va. “When we return from Italy, we will fully implement our public relations campaign to increase engagement for the seventh annual Patients’ Rights Day.”

Other students participating in international public relations campaign include: Naseem Amini, of Fairfax, Va.; Anna Benmoha, of Holmdel, N.J.; Bethany Bloise, of Pitcairn, Pa.; Rachel Borowski, of South Park, Pa.; Toniann Caputo, of Wood-Ridge, N.J.; Chloe Detrick, of Ridgeley, W.Va.; Jamie Kornhaber, of Ridgewood, N.J.; Stephanie Rosnick, of Weirton, W.Va.; Tatiana Schiazza, of Garnet Valley, Pa.; Kate Smallwood, of Daniels, W.Va.; and Kelly Suckiel, of Mays Landing, N.J.

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CONTACT: Tatiana Schiazza, American Activist Agency
(484) 354-5351;