Project leads to opportunity

Public relations majors Ashley Kelly and Chelsea Dawson make final round in GM ad competition

A class project has led two public relations students to have a chance at winning over $5,000 and an internship at Alloy Media + Marketing. Ashley Kelly and Chelsea Dawson are in the running to win the John Caples Student Campaign of the Year Award, based on an assignment that required them to create a campaign for GM.

Campaigning for success — Chelsea Dawson (left) and Ashley Kelly (right) are finalists in the GM Marketing Campaign and will travel to New York City, March 22, for an awards dinner. Photo credit: Victoria Pearce

“Our professor, Dr. Angela Widgeon required us to enter the competition as part of our class,” Kelly said.

Kelly, who graduated in May, along with her partner, senior Chelsea Dawson, entered their project “College Discount. Genius” into the GM Campaign competition as a requirement for a Communications Marketing Campaign class. They never dreamed that they would be finalists in the competition.
“We did not think we were going to go this far in the competition (and) we are extremely humbled, honored and thankful for this opportunity,” Kelly said.

“We worked long and hard hours. A ton of research was involved,” Dawson said.

The entire project consisted of a written summary, extensive plans book and an extended campaign.

All contestants had to stick to a strict budget of $1.2 million with the target audience being college students and recent graduates.

“We started research in September and did not submit until December. It was a semester-long process,” Dawson said.

The work proved challenging as both were involved in extracurricular activities and jobs that consumed much of their time.

“I was planning a wedding, working on another campaign and working part time,” Kelly said. “Chelsea was busy with school, work and extracurricular activities, so while we gave the campaign our all, we, of course, felt we could always do better.”

“We did not hear back from the agency until over two months later and we were so thankful that our hard work paid off,” Dawson said.

“I was greatly encouraged to discover that our hard work, endless study nights and time (was) now opening the door to an amazing opportunity,” Kelly said.

Both students attribute their success to Dr. Widgeon, their professor.

“If it weren’t for her, then I wouldn’t be a finalist. I am thankful that she has pushed us to submit our ideas outside the class. While we came up with the ideas and campaign, she provided us with the tools and knowledge to implement those ideas,” Kelly said.

The girls also thank God that they were given a chance for this opportunity.

“God gave us the strength to complete it to the best of our ability,” Kelly said.

The girls encourage other students to get involved with the campaign.

“Each year there are different competitions. It is extremely important to look into these competitions and to submit your work. It is an amazing opportunity to refine your skills and to develop a campaign that could potentially be used in the real world. Don’t be intimidated, you can do it,” Kelly said.

The two will be traveling to New York City on March 22 to attend the awards dinner where they will find out if they are the winners of the John Caples Student Campaign of the Year Award and the recipients of a $5,000 cash prize, as well as an internship at Alloy Media + Marketing, which sponsors the event. Several other agencies will be in attendance to receive awards.

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