Students win national marketing competition, trip to D.C.
Political theory and constitutional democracy senior Laura Kovacek had no public relations experience a few months ago. She had no practice with market campaigns or strategies.
When she saw a blurb for a scholarship that dealt with marketing at the bottom of the Honor College Student Digest, she mentioned it to her roommate, political theory and constitutional democracy senior Maria Bianchi, almost as a joke, Kovacek said.
When Kovacek and Bianchi’s presentation won them both $2,500 scholarships at the first Washington Media Scholars Case Competition, she said she was shocked. MSU’s James Madison College also was given $5,000 for scholarships.
“I’ve always been kind of interested in how people market things and the idea of targeting them with topics,” Kovacek said. “I was interested because it was a personal interest of mine and it seemed like a good way to build a skill set I didn’t have already.”
At a network reception with 65 other teams of finalists and about 250 people in the profession, Bianchi and Kovacek were announced as the winners on June 10. The top six teams were invited to go to Washington, D.C. during Media Scholars Week, where they meet individuals who work for advertising and marketing with companies such as Facebook, Google and CNN.
The competition was hosted by the Washington Media Scholars Foundation, which was founded to provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to meet executives in public affairs advertising, said Robin Roberts, president of the Washington Media Scholars Foundation.
“I think it’s important to those of us in the business to lend a hand to younger folk,” Roberts said. “Somebody helped me when I was their age and I think it’s incumbent upon us to help those coming behind us, to lend a hand where we can.”
The competition challenged students to create a six-month, $2.5 million campaign encouraging citizens to vote “yes” on a ballot 2 initiative. Bianchi and Kovacek planned the campaign down to the channel and time television ads would run to reach the largest percentage of their target audience.
The duo heard about the competition several weeks before the due date, and did the bulk of the work in the four days before their presentation was due, pulling a 48-hour work session at the end.
Neither girl said they expected to win the competition, but Roberts said their presentation was sensible.
“They presented their case in an convincing manner,” he said. “Their answer and approach was deemed to be very believable and very straightforward.”
The experience in Washington D.C. has effected both of the girls’ future plans.
“I learned a lot on this trip,” Bianchi said. “I don’t think I would have realized advertising strategy existed as a field in itself had I not done this.”
And Kovacek said she is no longer unexperienced when it comes to campaign strategies.
“It was eye opening,” she said. “It might not be exactly what I want to do, but I’m seeing more how it’s woven into everything I do.”