A Public Relations (PR) campaign produced by a team of Drake graduates just won a 2018 Clarion Award in Best Advertising/PR campaign. The campaign was their Senior Capstone project and the winning campaign was picked out by their client, the Young Women’s Resource Center.
Their team consists of six 2017 graduates from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication: Ashley Hawkins, Sarah Mattes, Reed Fischer, Nick Frandsen, Megan Johns and Kristen Carver. The team account executive, Ashley Hawkins, was happy when she heard the news.
“It’s both exciting and humbling to know our work is still being recognized long after capstone and graduation,” Hawkins said.
The Clarion Award, presented by the Association for Women in Communications (AWC), is a symbol of excellence in clear and concise work in the field of communications. Clarion recipients range from large leading media companies to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Started in 1977, this award honors excellence in more than 100 categories across all communications disciplines, including advertising & marketing, audiovisual, productions, books, CDs and many more.
Kelly Bruhn, SJMC associate dean and professor, said the team demonstrated an understanding of their client’s needs.
“They really took a comprehensive approach to their planning that encompassed all the things the client really asked for and needed to move forward in advance,” Bruhn said.
According to Professor Bruhn, the Young Women’s Resource Center has a strong following, passionate volunteers, and passionate donors.
“One of the challenges was to how do they keep those people interested in the mission and keep them connected, but also continue to build on that network of ambassadors,” Bruhn said.
To address this challenge faced by their client, this group of graduates, under their agency name “Vector Strategies,” created an exclusive group called “Louise’s Ladies.”
“Louise Noun was a very well-known advocate for women empowerment here in our community,” Bruhn said.
She stated that the objective of this group would be to encourage additional ambassadors to join the club and take part in the fight
for women empowerment in media. Along with this group, Vector Strategies also created a toolkit that would help people understand what the issues are and what steps they could do to make a difference.
“They really thought from start to finish and created a really strategic campaign that was mindful of the client’s limited resources,” Bruhn said.
Reed Fischer, a member of Vector Strategies and the record holder for the fastest 10k in Drake history, called his capstone project “an awesome experience.”
“I switched into PR as a junior and was playing catch-up with a lot of the core classes, so I wasn’t the most confident guy going into capstone,” Fischer said. “I was fortunate enough to be grouped with some of the most creative, intelligent and hard-working people I met in my time at Drake — and all of us shared the goal of wanting to present work to the client that was a cut above the rest.”
With the goal of having the project be held at a high standard, the team constantly found themselves “burning the midnight oil.” Hawkins stated that they would spend over 20 hours or more working together every week, on top of their other responsibilities with classes, jobs and internships. Such hard work is what created an “incredible bond” between members of the group, according to Hawkins.
“Not only did I gain invaluable real-world experience, I gained lifelong friends,” Hawkins said.
Fischer was especially proud to learn of the group’s accomplishments.
“There’s nothing more fulfilling than having work that you’ve poured your hearts and minds into be well-received by a client,” Fischer said. “As a team, we knew our work was strong, but to have that self belief be recognized by the client and be awarded with the Clarion was still an unmatched feeling.”
Bruhn took great pride in her students’ winning, saying the award is a “testament” for all the great works happening at Drake.
“This is just evident that when you get started from day one, then by the time you are a senior, you could be doing professional quality work that could be recognized nationally.”