Kids Learn to Click It

By Mandy Boyle
Advertising Sales Manager

Reaching the unreachable audience may seem a daunting task for anyone. But for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), getting teens and tweens to buckle up is much appreciated challenge. This year, Marywood’s chapter participated in the Bateman Competition, a nationwide public relations competition for university PRSSA chapters to raise awareness for a worthy cause. Chevrolet’s Safe Kids Buckle Up was the featured organization, whose mission is to reduce vehicle injuries through safety practices (seatbelt usage) and vehicle education.

As part of the competition, each team submits a binder containing research, strategies, and tactics on achieving the ultimate goal: get the target audience aware of the program and its purpose. Teens and tweens made up the main audience of the campaign, which can be a little intimidating. This generation generally mistrusts mass media, so a new approach would be needed. PRSSA asked local youth what they wanted to see, and from that, they developed an interactive presentation that can eventually be converted into a video. This video, along with a script, safety pledge cards, and other promotional materials; will comprise a media kit that will reach many area school districts and community organizations. These efforts, compiled with research and evaluation, make up PRSSA’s “Just Click It” campaign.

To test out this presentation, PRSSA ventured to Lebanon Middle School in Lebanon, PA on February 29. The chapter presented to five Health Education classes, and conducted an essay writing contest to receive feedback. After the presentation, the more than 100 students were asked to tell about what they had learned, what they liked about the presentation, what they didn’t like, and what they would like to change.

One student writes, ““It never was a habit to wear a seatbelt but from the things I’ve learned from the PRSSA presentation, I’m going to make it one of my habits.”

Sue Dailey, a Physical Education teacher at Lebanon M.S. added, “The program was very interesting to the students. The material was importation and presented in a way that students enjoyed…thank you (PRSSA) for coming.”

Each essay provided valuable insight into the success of the campaign, which was submitted for judging in March. Marywood’s chapter scores are expected to arrive in late-April or early-May. Hopefully, the chapter looks to establish a tradition, as Marywood’s team placed second in the nation during the 1990’s.

The Bateman Competition was originally established as a national case study competition by PRSSA’s founding organization, the Public Relations Society of America in 1973. It allowed all society members an opportunity to exercise their skills in analysis of a particular case in public relations and devise strategies to solve each issue. With clients ranging from the American Heart Association, Family Caregiving 101, and Habitat for Humanity, the Bateman Competition acts a valuable opportunity for students to expand their practical knowledge of the industry and showcase up and coming talent in real situations.