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UVU Students Place In Top 10 At National P.R. Competition Four Years Running

19 April 2013 No Comment

April 19, 2013

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert

Written by: Heather Wrigley

On Monday, two teams of Communication Department students from Utah Valley University received honorable mentions at the Public Relations Student Society of America’s, or PRSSA, national Bateman PR Campaign Competition for their campaign regarding the effects of bullying.

This is the fourth year UVU has had a team participate in the competition. Students from the University have consistently performed well, placing in the top 10 and earning honorable mentions each year.

“Our students continue to show that they are among an elite group of students prepared for work in the public relations industry,” said Farah Sanders, a UVU faculty lecturer who worked as the faculty adviser to help the students to develop their campaigns. “Because they’re actually practicing public relations, they can walk into a job interview and say, ‘I understand how to do strategic communication planning. I can work with others. I understand how to reach target audiences, work with the press and change behaviors. I can do what you want.’”

The 2013 competition asked teams to research, plan, implement and evaluate a comprehensive PR campaign focused on increasing awareness among children, teens, parents and other key audiences of the serious short- and long-term consequences of youth bullying. Students were tasked with informing these audiences of the steps they could take to help prevent and report bullying — all on a $300 budget, with another $1,000 of funding from in-kind donations. Entries were due in March.

Each team was made up of five students who took the same class, but were not allowed to know anything about each other’s campaigns. The first 15 minutes of each class were filled with a combined opening lecture and then the teams would split up into two rooms to work on their campaigns. Sanders traveled back and forth between the teams to advise them.

Team A, comprised of team leader Mallory Black, Kimberlee Carlile, Henry Cervera, Jana Heywood and Jonathan Ingalls, named their campaign “Be Cool, Not Cruel.” They presented the messaging they developed — Be aware, Be a voice, Be the change — at Lehi High School in Lehi, Utah, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy in Lindon, Utah, and a school in Salt Lake county.

In one effort, the team was able to reach more than 7,000 people by using social media to spread their message.

Team B’s campaign, “Pick On This, Make A Change” worked with Centennial and Dixon middle schools in Provo. While researching the topic, they found that 20 percent of Utah students in grades 9-12 have been bullied.

Team leader Sydney Tycksen and members Cori Fox, Abraham Hernandez, Priscilla Silva and Heather Scovill focused their campaign around three steps:

  • Understand that bullying is an unwanted aggressive behavior.
  • Recognize that changes in behavior and avoidance of social situations are signs of bullying.
  • Report bullying to a trusted adult, teacher, administrator or parent.

The students visited classrooms twice a week in February to teach the steps to educators and students and to encourage students to focus on an endeavor they were passionate about, instead of choosing to be a bully.

Both teams invested time contacting local media outlets and using social media to increase the reach of their messages. “Pick On This” partnered with Sammy’s in Provo to create a red velvet pie shake in support of their campaign. The shakes were given out at their launch event at Dixon Middle School. “Be Cool, Not Cruel” succeeded in joining with the city of Orem to declare February “Be Cool, Not Cruel” anti-bullying month.

In the end, the teams were able to keep their campaigns in the press for 17 days straight. At the end of the competition deadline, each team had to complete a large report, more than 100 pages each, conveying everything they did and then mail it in to be judged against 68 other entries.

“There are no internships out there that could have prepared me for my future job like this did,” Tycksen said. “It was real time. It was an amazing opportunity to grow and engage in my education. Six months of work, long hours and giving up time with family and friends was worth it. It was the most rewarding experience of my educational career.”

The Bateman Case Study Competition is PRSSA’s premiere national case study competition for P.R. students, giving individuals the chance to apply what they learn in the classroom by creating and implementing a full public relations campaign. Past campaigns have focused on seatbelt safety, Habitat for Humanity, advancing students’ ethical behavior in academics and more.

Members of the “Be Cool, Not Cruel” campaign, from left to right: Jonathan Ingalls, Henry Cervera, Mallory Black, Jana Heywood and Kimberlee Carlile.

Members of the “Pick on This” campaign, from left to right: Cori Fox, Priscilla Silva, Sydney Tycksen, Abraham Hernandez and Heather Scovill.

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