Students Take 3rd in District Ad Competition

Grand Valley State University’s 2018 National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC)

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The 2018 GVSU NSAC Team.

team travelled to South Bend, Indiana, to compete in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 contest on Friday, April 13.  The team, including 22 students, placed third in the largest AAF district contest, which is known as a mega-district.  This year, the client was Ocean Spray Cranberries

Nearly 150 university teams across the US compete in the NSAC.   University teams are tasked with creating a comprehensive advertising/integrated marketing plan for a national client.  The recommendations are documented in a 20-page plans book and delivered to industry judges in a 20-minute oral presentation.  District competitions take place in 15 AAF districts across the nation, including a virtual competition.

“This class is truly an immersive experience because it allows students to have a hands-on learning approach, while still under the direction of an advisor to offer guidance,” said student team member Bethany Garcia. “Having real clients turns the pressure on and brings a level of professionalism to each and every class.”

AAF’s District 6 (D6) has the highest concentration of Advertising/Public Relations academic programs located in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.  Twenty universities competed in the AAF D6 NSAC contest this year, including Michigan State, Purdue, Columbia, Ball State, University of Illinois, Indiana University and others.  Two teams from D6 will move on to the semi-finals in this three-tier competition.  Of the 18 teams that compete in the semi-final round, eight teams will move on to the national competition in conjunction with the AAF ADmerica national conference, this year, held in Chicago.

Grand Valley has been competing in the NSAC contest since 2008 and has placed every consecutive year since 2009; three of those were first place. 

“The competition is fierce as the NSAC is seen as a valuable credential for graduates moving into the advertising profession,” said Robin Spring, assistant professor and advisor of the NSAC team. “The NSAC contest is the oldest and largest student advertising competition in the US and recruiters from prominent advertising agencies often scout at NSAC events.”

This year, GVSU’s NSAC tagline line for Ocean Spray was #EmbraceTheBitterSweet.  The GVSU team recommended an array of interactive and experiential tactics designed to resonate with younger target market and inspire them to engage with Ocean Spray, a brand that has a largely older consumer base.

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Alumni Thrive in Travel PR

Travel and tourism public relations is something taught in the Fundamentals of Public Relations course at GVSU, and it comes up in several other courses. It’s just one of many speciality areas of practice within public relations and advertising. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) even has a Travel and Tourism Special Interest Section.

So it was interesting that two alumni who have made careers in travel and tourism popped up in recent media.

Dave Nitkiewicz (2007), the Specialty Markets Sales Manager at Experience Grand Rapids, was featured in a recent episode of the ‘PR Hangover’ podcast.

Then, Brandy Henderson (2010), was mentioned in a Grand Rapids Business Journal article about Ludington tourism. Henderson started doing PR for Ludington and is now the executive director of the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

These are just two examples of how a degree in Advertising and PR can lead to good jobs in the travel and tourism industry.

Adjunct Wins Emmy for TV Spot

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS)-Michigan announced the winners of the 39th Annual Emmy® Awards over the weekend. Angela Peavey, an Advertising and Public Relations adjunct instructor who teaches sections of CAP 105: Technology in Advertising and Public Relations, took home the Emmy for “Best Commercial.”

AngelaPeavey1.jpgPeavey is also a 2013 graduate of the MS in Communicationsprogram in the GVSU School of Communications.

“Winning an Emmy® has been something I’ve dreamed about since I was a child,” said Peavey. “Now it came to fruition with a promo video I made for the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA).”

The commercial was created to promote the theatrical programming the Art Center does year-round; including Equity theatre, sizzling concert series, educational programming, and more.

Five nominations created stiff competition for the “Best Commercial” slot and were the most nominations in a single category all night.

“I’m incredibly humbled to win against such amazing talent,” said Peavey. “Of course I ‘stalked’ the other nominations online before the awards to gain a sense of the competition and I’m still in awe that I won.”

 

The commercial was the brainchild of Peavey, but she thanks the Saugatuck Center for the Arts staff and Board of Directors for all their support. Other participating stakeholders in creating the award-winning piece are Kristin Armstrong, Kurt Stamm, and Jeff Zita of Z-Drones.

“This is an amazing way to kick start the Saugatuck Center for the Arts 15th Anniversary,” said Kristin Armstrong, SCA’s Executive Director. “​What I really love: last year Angela​ made a promise to our board member ​Dan Fox that she would create a video that would become Emmy nominated. Well, she can check that one off her list! And so can the SCA.”

Read more about Peavey’s award in this blog post.

Alumnus Jacob Cochran hired as account executive at iconic New York agency

Jacob Cochran - Grey Canon Photobooth
2015 alumnus Jacob Cochran is an account executive at Grey in New York City.

by Ashley Bovin

During a family trip to New York City when he was in the 3rd grade, Jacob Cochran told his family that one day, he wanted to live there.

After graduating from the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program in 2015, Cochran started out working at a marketing agency in Grand Rapids. It didn’t take long for him to set his sights on New York.

While looking for opportunities in his dream city, Cochran came across Carrot Creative, a digital advertising agency. It seemed like a perfect fit because it was owned by VICE Media – a company he had been interested in – and it specialized in the digital space.

Alumni Spotlight Header 3After a couple rounds of interviews and a presentation, Cochran was hired by Carrot Creative to work on the Chipotle account. The team created all of Chipotle’s digital and social media content. Cochran was a part of campaigns like the national launch of chorizo (a new menu item), which involved creative elements like Snapchat geofilters and lenses, as well as media buying. Cochran said that while working at Carrot was a great experience, he wanted to work on something other than fast casual dining.

“I also wanted to see what a large, more traditional New York City ad agency was like,” he said.

Grey Group is a much larger, global agency based in NYC that has been around since 1917. Grey works with some big names, such as Canon and Volvo.

“They also continuously win the award of ‘Agency of the Year,’ so for me, Grey was a place where I wanted to be,” Cochran said.

Cochran landed an account executive role with Grey on the UPMC account. Cochran said he finds the work for UPMC, a medical center and hospital group, more rewarding than what he was doing for Chipotle.

“My old account director at Carrot used to say, ‘This isn’t a matter of life and death’ when something didn’t go the way we planned, whereas working on UPMC, it kind of is,” he said.

Cochran also enjoys working at Grey because their clients trust them and give a lot of room to play when it comes to developing campaigns.

“Overall, I’m just really excited to be working on an account that really makes a difference in the world,” he said.

Cochran credits the internships he had while a student at GVSU for creating a good foundation for his career.

“I’ve had numerous agencies and coworkers comment on how diverse my background is,” he said. “I had an internship every year I was at GVSU, in politics, fashion, and branding, and I’ve had nothing but positive reactions from professionals within the industry about how interesting and unique my professional background is when it comes to advertising and PR.”

Cochran also appreciated the diversity of the faculty in GVSU’s APR program.

“I think it’s important to have a good mix of professionals who can give you a better understanding of the industry,” he said. “John Stipe was great; his teaching style looked at the industry through a more traditional lens. Professors like Adrienne Wallace have a more current view of the industry. It’s the unique mix of professors at GVSU that really help you gain a better understanding of the advertising and PR world.”

Cochran also had some advice to share with current students.

Think big,” he advises. “I know classes can be stressful and projects are overwhelming when you have 10 at a time, but while you’re in university, use this as a time to think bigger about what impact you want to make on not only your career, but the industry as a whole. While you’re in school, use that time to get a better understanding of where you want to end up within the years following graduation.”

It worked out for Cochran.

“I wanted to work at a digital ad agency in NYC, and I made it happen,” he said.

NSAC Team Wins District 6 Competition

Grand Valley State University’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team took first place in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 competition on April 21st. AAF District 6 is a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois who are all vying for a chance to move forward to the finals at the AAF National Convention—known as ADmerica—taking place in New Orleans in June.

NSAC team
(Pictured from left to right) Front row: Addison Wittry, Elizabeth Konen, Rachael Vruggink, James Sturtridge, Alex Rabideau, faculty advisor Robin Spring. Second row: Joey Parks, Bethany Garcia, Hawra Al-Howaishy, Marai Behovitz, and Kat Wille. Third row: Jaclyn Waligora, Kate Lewis, Madeline Schaefer, Theresa Wierenga, and Alex Knaisel. Fourth row: Dan Goobers, Ari Zucker, Abbie Fielding, and Ashley Barrett.

 

 

 

The team, comprised of 19 students, crafted an advertising campaign to meet specific objectives for national client Tai Pei frozen foods. Assistant Professor Robin Spring, of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, was the team’s advisor.  Students worked on the project for two semesters by conducting research, refining strategy, producing tactics, and perfecting their campaign plans book and 20-minute presentation.

The District 6 competition was broken into two tracks, with Grand Valley’s team placing first in the Blue Track, ahead of other schools, including: Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Purdue-West Lafayette, Ball State, University of Illinois and others. Grand Valley edged out Western Michigan University and Ball State University in the final round.

“The amount of talent on the team is incredible,” said Addison Wittry, one of the Account Executives of the project. “When that is paired with the hard work and dedication we had, it was no surprise that we were successful.”

“Our team’s diverse skillsets were the real game changer,” said Rachael Vruggink, the team’s second Account Executive. “We weren’t all just creatives or strategists, but a well-rounded group from different majors and backgrounds. This took our critical thinking, strategy, and creative from good to great.”

The team will compete in a semi-final round on May 4th. Of approximately 150 competing across the US, just eight move on to the national finals in June. This is the third time Grand Valley has placed first in the district in the 10 years they’ve competed in the contest.   The National Student Advertising Competition was started in 1973 and is the oldest and largest student advertising competition.

Grand Valley State University NSAC 2017 team members include:

  • Rachael Vruggink       Account Executive, Presentation Team
  • Addison Wittry           Account Executive
  • James Sturtridge          Creative Director, Video/Photography
  • Elizabeth Konen          Research Director, Presentation Team
  • Mari Behovitz             Integrated Promotions Director
  • Abbie Fielding             Media Planning Director
  • Alex Rabideau             Account Planning, Integrated Promotions, Presentation Team
  • Ari Zucker                   Account Planning, Media, Presentation Team
  • Dan Goubert               Creative Team, Copywriting
  • Joey Parks                   Creative Team, Graphics
  • Madeline Schaefer       Creative Team, Graphics
  • Alex Knaisel               Research Team, Treasurer
  • Bethany Garcia            Research Team
  • Kat Wille                     Research Team
  • Jaclyn Waligora           Media Planning
  • Kate Lewis                  Media Planning
  • Theresa Wierenga        Integrated Promotions
  • Ashley Barrett             Integrated Promotions
  • Hawra Al-Howaishy   Fundraising

If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.

If it Doesn't Spread

Today the grand slam in advertising, PR, and digital com (let’s just call it all strategic communications – communication with a purpose) is content that spreads, goes viral and generates a lot of earned, free media.

So how does it happen? Can you create content that spreads

Let’s start with the core question, “Why do we share, post, tweet, retweet, pin, vlog, Instagram and every other manner of digitally sharing with friends, colleagues and peers?”

Social currency.

It’s not what the content says as much as it’s what the content says about us.

It says we’re in the know. Smart. Have the inside track. Ahead of the curve. Cool, Hip, Funny, Fashionable. We knew what color the dress was. Our sharable content shapes how others see us.

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That’s the core idea driving why some ideas stay, stick, tip and others wither and fade away.

Malcolm Gladwell ignited the concept in The Tipping Point – that singular, simple moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFbkVL1X9M8

Chip and Dan Heath followed up with Made to Stick – why some ideas survive and others die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs9NbxJHV-w

And now Jonah Berger pulls it together with Contagious – why things catch on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfSs_hOAkzY

When you look at all three books you see a pattern, a few common characteristics which can help transform your communication – boost your idea’s chance of virality and put it on the fast track. Content worth sharing because it gives you, the sender, resender or writer social currency.

In other words, “How cool am I because I sent you this?”

Let’s take a look at how you can craft your content.

Is the content simple and concrete? Can the idea be expressed in a single sentence? Is it visually memorable? Can it be explained in human actions so that are easily understood and can be shared with consistent meaning?

 “You’re not you when you’re hungry. Snickers satisfies.”

Is the content a story? Stories stick. We have an innate need for narrative. We share stories, not pie charts.

Is the content remarkable and unexpected? Let’s combine story and unexpected.  Did you hear the story about the blender that turned an iPad into dust? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAl28d6tbko Is the story message relevant to the product, candidate or cause? Is Blend Tec a powerful blender?

 


Post by: Frank Blossom, affiliate professor

FB Choker Shot 2014
Professor Blossom teaches advertising, PR, creativity and story making classes at GVSU. He developed his brand building skills as a copywriter and Creative Director at Leo Burnett, DArcy, Noble & Associates and Felder Communications Group. In 2001 he founded The Polishing Center and serves as Head Coach helping young creatives build their portfolios and interviewing skills. Additionally, Frank manages Frank Communications and serves as head referee for the Creative Smackdown – a creative competition showcase bringing together students from all over Michigan with advertising and design professionals. For the past 20 years, The American Advertising Federation, the National Student Advertising Competition, and other ad associations have tapped Franks experience to judge local, regional, national and international advertising competitions. Frank serves on the Board of Directors of the Womens Resource Center and facilitates visual and verbal communications for VSA. In 2010 Frank was awarded The Silver Medalthe American Advertising Federations highest honor to professionals who have made outstanding contributions to the advertising and marketing industry and who have been active in furthering creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern.

The Importance of Networking in APR

Networking

“Oh, I am a terrible networker.”

“Those types of things give me so much anxiety.”

“Those things don’t really matter any ways.”

What do these three sentences have in common? They’re all wrong. Networking is very important in any line of work and it isn’t as scary as you make it out to be. Basically since the beginning of time (or since the time you spent on the playground), you have been networking. How do you think you made friends? You told them a little bit about yourself, what you like, what you don’t like, etc. Then like magic, you became friends. See that wasn’t so scary. So, why can’t you muster up the courage to go to a networking event where there is probably food and wine? What is the million-dollar answer? You’re being a chicken. Or lazy. A lazy chicken.

Networking is important because it can lead to many different opportunities. You never know whom you are going to meet or who knows whom in a room full of people. Obviously some networking events are better than others, but you never know who can make an introduction for you. Every relationship you make matters, which is key to successful networking.

If you think you’re a horrible networker, don’t. It is important to have confidence, so fake it until you make it. Chances are there is someone else in the room that is just as nervous as you but you would never know. If you exude confidence, it will rub off on other people, create conversations and a make great first impression. If you’re still nervous, come prepared with a few easy talking points that will lead the conversation. But remember not everyone is going to be nice and responsive, that’s okay. Develop thick skin and understand that if someone doesn’t respond to your follow up or show interest in the conversation, it’s not personal.

The best thing about networking is that it pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. Like stated above, you never know who you’re going to meet or where an opportunity is going to present itself. Networking allows you to meet all different types of people and learn more about what they do in the field. There may be a side of your profession you never thought to explore and a simple conversation can open your eyes to it. Nothing exciting ever comes from sitting in those four walls of your comfort zone, so knock them down.

To prove the above sentences wrong, it is pretty easy:

  1. “Oh, I am a terrible networker.” No one is a terrible networker; all you need to do is be yourself.
  2. “Those types of things give me so much anxiety.” Fake it till you make it!
  3. “Those things don’t really matter anyway.” Wrong, you never know who you’ll meet to give you advice, conversation or even a job.

So have fun and be confident! If you absolutely feel terrible at the event then leave. 9 out of 10 times, you will meet someone and the conversation will start flowing. But you’ll never know if you don’t put yourself out there!


ElleOHara
Eleanor O’Hara is a senior at GVSU majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in business. She looks forward to growing her PR leadership and project management skills this year as CEO of GrandPR and a board member of GVSU’s PRSSA chapter. Eleanor’s professional experiences include interning with the American Diabetes Association in Chicago and 834 Design & Marketing in Grand Rapids. After graduation, she hopes to enter a Chicago PR agency and become an Account Executive. In her spare time, Eleanor loves to bake yummy treats, hangout with her friends and family, and watch reruns of One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy.