University Relations and Communications

Big Sky Senior Services joins MSU Billings students to launch new senior health campaign

January 7, 2010



Dr. Sarah N. Keller, Communications Department, 896-5824
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Big Sky Senior Services, a non-profit organization based in Billings, has joined hands with students from Montana State University Billings to create a marketing campaign to promote senior well-being in Yellowstone County.



The Caring for Seniors Campaign, being launched this month, is designed to increase awareness of the threats of self-neglect and isolation that many seniors face and to motivate more people to volunteer time or money to help seniors stay in their homes. The specific campaign messages were determined during the fall semester through audience research conducted by students in Dr. Sarah Keller’s “Media for Social Change” class. Keller is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Theatre at MSU Billings and has been involved in a variety of social media projects.


Big Sky Senior Services currently helps 200 seniors live independently by providing minimal health care through Senior Helping Hands and social contact through the Friends Volunteer program. The organization has committed more than $7,000 to fund the campaign, to pay for TV production, broadcast airtime (to be matched by local networks), graphic design work, printing and billboard space.


Students in Keller’s class say they hope the campaign will encourage working and recently retired professionals to give to seniors in small ways — such as transportation, phone calls, small repairs, or financial donations. Such small contributions enable seniors to remain in their homes — which is substantially cheaper than residing in a state- or federally-funded nursing home.


Big Sky Senior Services estimates that it costs roughly $1,560 per senior per year to provide an average of six hours a week of assistance to enable a senior to remain in their homes, compared to $54,000 of state and federal funding to live full-time at a nursing home.


The experiential, collaborative learning that involved in this class is typical of the MSU Billings experience. Students have the opportunity to not only interact with faculty, but also can work in teams and with local experts on making projects come to life.


In Keller’s class, MSU Billings students were in charge of developing a vision and following through with such different forms of media for the campaign, such as television public service announcements. Student worked with professional graphic artists and producers, including Spotlight Productions, Lamar Advertising, KTVQ and Strange Sister Creative, to execute the final art for the marketing campaign.


For more information on the communications department classes and degree options, call 657-2888 or check out