Kiana Dixon, Katherine Steiner, Eric Lamadrid and Emma Glackin receiving the first-place award.
Four Public Relations (PR) students recently took first place in a marketing challenge sponsored by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (HBCBS). Students Kiana Dixon, Emma Glackin, Eric Lamadrid and Katherine Steiner worked together to develop an extensive campaign focused on innovating the way the public uses, understands, and accesses healthcare.
The team's winning idea highlighted increasing millennial knowledge of health care by producing a YouTube series. This innovative idea impressed the judges and awarded our PR students first place, who will share a $5,000 prize.
What makes their success particularly inspiring? These PR I students were only learning what a public relations campaign consisted of in September – nearly two months later, they were committed to making sure each component was as pristine and specific as the next. "They had one month and three days to complete a nearly 30-page campaign," shared their PR I instructor, Devon Gifis. "They conducted primary research though surveys; used academic journals for secondary research and eventually put together goals, objectives, and tactics for their campaign. They also used hypotheticals to include how they would measure the impact of their results."
The competition's timeline was very aggressive: submissions were in by October 25; HBCBS announced the finalists on October 31; the team presented to the HBCBS leadership team on November 10 at HBCBS' Newark, N.J. headquarters; and shortly afterward, the team found out they had won. Working against such an expedited time frame, the students knew they wanted to put their best effort in. They practiced their presentational skills in front of their classmates and participated in a mock Q&A session, using their colleagues' constructive criticism to propel their work forward.
2017 Health Care Transformation Challenge Finalists
"We were fully immersed in our campaign, putting everything else aside to focus on the competition," said team member Eric Lamadrid. "Everyone treated the campaign with seriousness and high attention, especially when we were chosen as a finalist. That's when, I think, everyone kicked it up a notch and took our professionalism to another level."
As a result, the work of the PR students not only impressed their classmates with their dedication, but also impressed members of the HBCBS leadership team. The HBCBS Senior Vice President of Marketing even pointed out he was impressed by their research and their presentation skills during the Q&A portion of their presentation. The students were given the chance for a well-rounded learning experience and certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
"The best part about this was getting first-hand experience and working with a real company," said Katherine Steiner. "We got to help them find a solution to a real problem they were facing. This competition helped us learn about campaigns beyond what a textbook can teach."