Students in the Spotlight
BY: EBBEN BERENSTEIN
The beloved Kutztown Strand has been closed for many months, following the death of the previous owner Paul Angstadt. With the KCP’s purchase of the building finalized, plans to renovate and reopen are underway. This year through a capstone course called The Agency Experience, 8 public relations majors at Kutztown University had the unique opportunity to become key players in the journey of The Strand.
The Agency course provides students with an exciting experience that goes beyond the classroom. Students conduct real PR work for local clients while enhancing their professional skills. The client for this year’s Agency class is Sandy Green, community liaison at the KCP. Green wanted The Agency students to tell the story of The Strand, focusing on its evolution from rundown to renovated. Documenting the journey of The Strand would require careful storytelling with words and visuals.
To achieve this, students began researching the origins of the business dating back to 1908 when it was called the Kinetoscope Arcade located at 272 West Main Street (where the Kutztown Tavern stands today). Compiling all their research into a detailed timeline that pays homage to the original Strand, the students worked to keep the business’s history alive in the rebrand. This detailed timeline was achieved through the students’ excellent teamwork and organizational abilities, both of which are key skills for any public relations professional. Students also honed their networking abilities by gathering information from the Kutztown Historical Society and former Strand employees.
To provide a deeper connection to The Strand, Green took Agency students on a tour of the building, during which they saw historical aspects that have long been covered up, such as the original archway over the building’s entrance (shown left). The behind-the-scenes tour gave them a better understanding of The Strand's deep roots in the Kutztown community.
Interviewing former Strand employees gave students an insider’s perspective of how the business ran, as well as key details regarding past owners. These interviews also fueled several blog posts found on the KCP’s website that position The Strand as an integral part of the Kutztown Community.
Once word spread that the KCP was purchasing The Strand, some community members expressed concerns about the future/evolution of the business. This was an opportunity for Agency students to learn the importance of clear communication, and the many challenges and opportunities that come with working in a passionate community. One Agency student had the opportunity to attend meetings between the KCP and concerned community members to represent The Agency and experience PR in action.
While this year’s Agency students will soon graduate and begin their careers, the Agency’s relationship with the KCP will remain. The next group of Agency students will continue to document the Journey of The Strand, continuing the work that this year’s team has so carefully begun.