Kent State PR majors returned to the PRSSA Bateman Competition for the first time in 15 years this semester. And boy did they rock it! Their week-long campaign titled “College: Rock It!” concludes a jammed-packed week of activities designed to make college a priority with — You ready for this? — 12 and 13-year-old kids.
To clarify: Research provided by the client underscores the need to target younger kids vs. high school students, who are simply too far along in the decision-making process.
For you non-PRSSA folks, Bateman is a nationwide competition in which 5-person student teams research, plan and implement PR campaigns on behalf of a real-world client looking for real world results. In Kent, Ohio, that’s exactly what the Consumer Bankers Association got — a real return on their investment. And yes, I do see the irony in that!
The students’ project focused on CBA’s educational outreach program, College Bound Aid, with a series of activities designed to educate and motivate 7th and 8th graders. Goal was to gain understanding and acceptance of the importance of a college education — no easy task when talking to a 12-year-old.
Said team member Rebecca Odell: “We want middle school students and their parents to realize the value of a college degree and early college preparation and the range of available financial resources.”
The message: It’s never too early to be thinking about preparing for college. For the kids it means working hard in class and school activities. For parents it means supporting their kids’ development and shopping now for best ways to finance higher education — thus the banker connection.
After research that included focus groups and surveys, the team crafted and implemented a plan in the space of 6 weeks. There isn’t room to explain it all here, but I’ll highlight some of the more creative elements:
The “RockIt” Rap Contest. Under the direction of Music Education students, Stanton Middle Schoolers tested their talents as Hip-Hop writers. Audio files here. (Privacy rules precluded videotaping of this event, since they were dealing with such young kids.)
Cool Career posters. Under the direction of the Bateman team, art students at Stanton created collages about their ideal careers.
The RockIt Blog. It’s more than a blog. The site features video stories with college students on track to interesting careers. Note, especially, the one with TV2 General Manager Kyle Miller — the PR major who got away!
Publicity.“RockIt!” was essentially a grassroots campaign, but it did attract attention of the campus and local newspapers, which helped to spread the message.
In these troubled time, you can’t blame a bunch of bankers for wanting a return on their investment. I mean, they haven’t seen one in a good while. Here’s what they got from Kent State’s Bateman team, who spent just $300 in cash and collected $1,000 of in-kind donations.
From the team’s preliminary report:
- In the pre-survey, 88 percent said they plan to attend college. Afterward, 91.2 percent said they would.
- In a pre-survey, 50.4 percent said they strongly agreed that good grades matter; 40.8 percent said they somewhat agreed with the statement; 7.2 percent said they somewhat disagreed and 1.6 percent said they strongly disagreed.
- In the post-survey, 66.7 percent said they strongly agreed; 29.4 percent said they somewhat agreed; 3 percent said they somewhat disagreed and .9 percent strongly disagreed.
- In a pre-survey, 0.8 percent said they were very familiar with the College: RockIt! program. By the end of the presentation, 80 percent of students were able to recognize the College: RockIt! campaign.
- 72 percent of students said they talk to their parents about college on a regular basis. By the end of the presentation, 85.3 percent said they planned on going home to talk to their parents about college.
A College: RockIt! Financial Planning Seminar for parents drew 25 middle school parents, five time more than previous sessions sponsored by the school. Evaluations showed overwhelming satisfaction with seminar content and the RockIt! campaign. Here’s the report (doc): seminareval.
The event wraps up tonight with a career event at the Kent State Ice Arena that will include games and prizes, along with a little ice time. I’ll update the results tomorrow.
Why did Kent State take a 15-year break from Bateman? Mostly because the seniors here have bigger fish to fry. Those in their last two semesters are immersed in capstone projects and often working high-paying internships. To Kent’s re-entry to Bateman fell on a team of juniors.
We learned last year that our 3rd-year students are up to the task. Regular readers will recall a post I wrote about our Donate Life Ohio Team. That group won a 14-campus competition and a $5,000 prize. Both the DNL team and this year’s Bateman team were advised by Professor Michele Ewing, APR, herself a national PRSSA award winner.
These Kent State PR students really do Rock It! I know that sounds boastful, but it’s not really. Just ask Dizzy Dean.