Voter Drive Wins Ebeling PR-ize

December 20, 2012

From left to right: Seniors Taylor Fisher, Molly Geraghty, Chuck Ebeling '66, Camille Ivy-O'Donnell.  Not pictured is senior Morgan Kotars, the winning team's fourth member.

By Frank Radosevich II

Getting high school seniors interested in voting can be none too easy. But it's an important task that four Bradley seniors tackled this election year with a public relations campaign that drove home the importance of elections to young voters.

The public relation majors" Taylor Fisher, Molly Geraghty, Morgan Kotars and Camille Ivy-O'Donnell" partnered with staff at Peoria Heights High School and Russell's Cycling and Fitness in Washington, Ill., to organize events for the senior class at the high school on voter literacy and politics.

Their campaign, called "Momentum: The Voting Cycle," hosted speakers at the high school, ran a mock election, created a voting resource website, had the high school seniors teach younger students about voting and ended with a Tour de Vote trivia race, which celebrated the right to vote with activities and physical fitness.

"It was a different way to teach them and I think students will always respond well to something different," said Ivy-O'Donnell, who also majors in political science. "We did make it fun."

Besides increasing voter awareness, their campaign scored another victory when it received the Ebeling PR-ize, awarded to the top senior public relations campaign in the Communication 480 class.

The award was established in 2004 by alumnus and Bradley Centurion Chuck Ebeling '66 and Dr. Ron Koperski, a professor in the Department of Communication, and challenges seniors to design and implement a public relations campaign centered on a key social issue.

Dr. Koperski, who taught the capstone public relations course, said students gain valuable experience working as a real-life public relations agency.

"The process that they are learning to apply to their campaign is exactly what is done in the real world of public relations," Dr. Koperski said, noting students follow the same campaign guidelines established by the Public Relations Society of America. "They are learning how to make persuasive cases for ideas and that's something they'll have to do out in the real world."

The semester-long assignment integrates all the skills the students have acquired in their communications curricula and is sponsored Ebeling, who worked in public relations with several major agencies and national corporations before retiring from McDonald's Corp. as chief spokesman and vice president of corporate communications.

"I feel like I am one step ahead of my peers from other schools," Geraghty, who is interested in working in corporate public relations, said of the experience. "All of us were able to implement what we learned in class into our real lives."