New Cars and Concept Vehicles

February 6, 2014

Twelve Department of Communication Public Relations students are interning at the Chicago Auto Show this week. For the 12th consecutive year, students will work behind the scenes and on the floor of the largest auto show in North America and blog here about their experience in the Windy City.

Sending love from the Auto Show

Jasmine Swoope

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On this day of celebrating love, I look back fondly over the past week and I realize how much I love the great opportunity that was presented to me. I reminisce to a time when I was just fourteen years old, and one of my first jobs was a ticket scanner at the Chicago Auto Show. I reminisce being extremely excited and thrilled by the intoxicating aura the show gives off. When I received the email of my acceptance to the auto show, I looked back on that time in my life and am simply amazed at how far I had come.

The phrase “more than a car show” is the best description I can give the Chicago Auto Show.  I am not a big car expert, but I still felt engaged and overly stimulated. All of the car displays were decked out in their Sunday’s best. From Kia Soul’s DJ interaction to Ford’s Hank the talking robot, there was always something for me to do. Let’s not forget all the great vendors that were there.  From Chicago styled pizza from Connie’s or smoked ribs from Robinson’s, and everything in between, there was all is something. The smells alone would draw any palate in.

As a graduating senior, real world experience is a must-have. Real world experience was gained without a doubt. My favorite parts were engaging with the media utilizing the skills learned in my public relations classes to create social media content for various outlets.  Everyday going down to the show floor felt like a challenge to be better than the day before. I also enjoyed truly looking through the lenses of a public relations specialist. Everything I saw and experienced, I would try to use in creating meaningful and real content for our target audience.  I felt I was given just the right amount and experience needed to grow. In one week, Mark Bilek, Director of Communications and Technology, Julie Piatek, Communications Specialist (a Bradley Alum), and Jennifer Morand Senior Public Relations and Social Media Manager taught us skills and shaped us in to better professionals.

As I turn the page and close this chapter of my life, I pride myself on being a Bradley Brave. “Go far, Go Bradley” is more than just a phrase; it is our culture and way of life. The opportunities presented to me for being a Brave is more than I could ask for, my amazing and educational experience at the Chicago Auto Show is a testament to that.

All in a day’s work

By Samantha Zurawski 

20140213 auto showEvery day at the auto show is unpredictable and mesmerizing. Wednesday was no exception. It started off with me writing my daily blog. Every day we write pieces covering various events from the show floor. My favorite piece I’ve written far has been “50 Never Looked So Good,” which is about the new 2014 Ford Mustang.

Suddenly, two important -looking men walked through the door, I greeted them but they just breezed past the intern station and went right to the boss, Mark Bilek. Mark jumped up and quickly instructed my fellow intern, Shelby Duitsman, to create media credentials for them.

I watched curiously from behind her waiting to hear the names of these men. They said their names, Mark Giangreco and Ron Magers. But that meant nothing to me and it didn’t mean much to Shelby either because then she asked, “What company are you with?”

The news anchors laughed and Mr. Bilek clarified, “She’s from Peoria, she doesn’t know.” The moral of the story here is that you never know whom you’re going to run into in the media center. It might just be a journalist for a local publication or it could be Emmy award-winning news anchors.

I then was selected to go down to the show floor with Duitsman and coworker Megan Plahm.  Our main purpose on the floor was to create some posts for Instagram, Vine and Facebook. We roamed the show floor interacting with patrons and learning more about the experience of the guests.

One display that caught our eye was the Lexus “Amazing in Motion” display. This display allows guests to take personalized pictures that are uploaded to social media and then displayed front and center on a huge screen within the Lexus exhibit. It’s definitely a showstopper. But, in order to fully understand the concept ,we decided we had to try it out. The result was a pretty goofy photo that I will definitely be keeping as a souvenir of my time here at the auto show.

We finished up our Wednesday night by being treated to an exquisite dinner at the restaurant Hub 51. Here the interns got to dine with Jennifer Morand and former Bradley Auto Show intern Julie Piatek. We got the opportunity to talk about the job search process and our plans for the future while enjoying some delicious chicken Nachos.

Overall, I love my experience with the Chicago Auto Show. I love the environment that the organization has established here. Everyday I feel challenged and motivated to push my writing and professionalism to another level. It has been an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and one of the crowning jewels in my time at Bradley. I strongly encourage all junior and senior communications student to apply next year because it is such an amazing opportunity.

Testing the finest rides

By Mary Perisin

Walking into the Chicago Auto Show showroom feels like entering a parallel universe. Every single sense is taken over: shiny cars, flashing lights, jolting music. You can feel the excitement thick in the atmosphere as people of all ages and backgrounds come together to celebrate something they love. It was difficult to grasp how massive the show is until you walk into the McCormick Place’s one million square-foot exhibit hall filled with almost 1,000 vehicles.

20140212 auto show 2There are test tracks, product demonstrations, free giveaways and even food vendors. Today was “Women’s Day,” which was full of female-oriented programs and events. We covered a ribbon dance by students from St. Therese Chinese Catholic School, an influential women’s award ceremony put on by Chicagonista and a performance by Broadway Chicago’s “Phantom of the Opera.”

We were also able to actually go inside the glass box known as the “Supercar Garage” and test out some of the most coveted cars in the world. Afterward, under direction from Internet Director Matt Bilek, we updated the Auto Show’s Vine, Facebook, and Instagram pages. We also completed and published blogs onto the CAS website at We finished off the night at a Bulls game courtesy of Bradley alum Alan Buckingolts.

This experience so far has been priceless so far. We are learning real world skills in a fast-paced, tight deadline environment. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that this is not simply a car show but a total automotive experience.

End of the road

By Rachel Caldwell

The snow has settled in Chicago and so has the Chicago Auto Show. Today was the second day that the show has been open to the public and the turnout has been tremendous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people.20140210 auto show2

The media center that we have called our home for the past five days has slowed its intake of media people, but that didn’t mean our job as interns slowed down too.  The more exciting part of the job is when we got to go out on the show floor. It is up to us to get all of the exciting Vine videos and Instagram pictures for the Auto show to keep people excited about the Show throughout the whole week and that doesn’t stop when the public arrives. Another intern and I went out on the floor and got pictures of all of the new cars introduced this week and some cool attractions, such as an interactive robot, which people can control through a computer.

Also another wave of four interns came in today to start their awesome week with the Auto Show! We were happy to show them around the floor and show them all the ins and outs of the computer system and media center.  It was an exciting last day at the Auto Show, and we will all definitely miss being in Chicago and part of the thrilling Auto Show as well as, learning different Communication skills that I will positively use in the future.

Social Media Preview Day

By Amanda Christianson

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Friday, February 7, was Social Media Preview Day. Automotive companies invited special guests to attend press conferences that previewed highlights of what specific automakers were debuting and presenting in their booths at this year’s show. Digital Megaphone hosted a Vine/Instagram video challenge and there was a social media scavenger hunt called #CASChallenge that summoned guests to engage in the show by following different automaker’s requests from their various social media outlets.

The highlight of the day came in the evening at the First Look for Charity Gala. The event was a welcome ceremony designed to kick-start the show beginning the following morning. The theme revolved around the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, with cuisines representing Italy, Asia, Latin America, Germany and the USA.

All of the interns dressed up in formal gowns and got to experience the ambiance of the benevolent gathering firsthand by tasting the foods, visiting the booths, snapping pictures, and capturing videos. A Toyota Highlander and Corolla were given away to two lucky attendees, and Cadillac gave away their famous plush slippers.  Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White even made an appearance! Overall, the event was a great networking experience and a night we will never forget!

First busy day at auto show

By Michelle Flores

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We have been getting acclimated to the McCormick place and completing small tasks, but today was the first Media Preview Day at the Chicago Auto Show. The general pattern of the day included press conferences, social media posts, news releases, and communicating with members of the media.

With another fabulous intern, I was able to attend some extremely impressive press conferences for Kia, Chevrolet, Toyota Motorsports, and Connected World magazine. The press conferences were held by some of the brightest folk in the automobile industry, and they contained brand videos, extravagant vehicle unveilings, and numerous media members.

All of us interns would do our best on the Auto Show floor to generate social media posts on Vine, Instagram, and Twitter. We would then return to the media center to write up press releases and help credential journalists. Our pieces were edited by some of Julie, Megan, Mark, and Jen, but many of them were published online! We were thrown into an exciting series of new tasks that gave us extremely valuable experiences, and I cannot wait to use some in my portfolio.

As I write, the rest of the interns are attending an event for Subaru. I had to prioritize and stay in to write my Journal from the Road, but I hear they are having a great time. Tomorrow is our second media preview day, and we are all thrilled for another day of communications practices!

Concept cars wow interns

By Emily Streeter

To say the Chicago Auto Show is uneventful would be a complete lie. As interns, we have been busy since we arrived in the city. Today, we got a once in a lifetime experience and were up close and personal with some of the most exclusive cars at the Auto Show. The concept cars are always a big hit with visitors; they are the cars of the future and what most viewers dream about.

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From the SRT Viper to a Ford Energi, we got to see them all. The cars range from electric to hydrogen-powered and were as shiny as the brightest diamonds. Just hearing about the technology incorporated in these cars and how much they do for the driver put all of us in awe.

After a long day’s work of checking out fancy cars, we got to attend a Nissan event. We met people from all across the entertainment industry from TV to websites. The Chicago Auto Show has given us so many cool opportunities in the past two days alone, we are so excited to see what the next few hold for us.

Gearing up for the weekend

By Stephanie Porter

For the 12th consecutive year, the Chicago Auto Show selected a group of Slane College of Communication students to assist with preparation and execution of the well-renowned event. Hosted downtown Chicago at the McCormick Place, the event kicks off February 8 and will conclude on February 17.

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The first group of eight interns arrived on Tuesday, February 4 for five days of hands-on experience. They will participate in pre-show media activities such as producing blog and social media posts, creating media credentials, assisting in promotional events and serving various needs at the auto show’s media center.

Although the auto show will not be in full swing until Saturday, the interns are being kept busy interacting with media professionals, networking and making sure all is in order for the kick-off.

The interns are in for an exciting week where they will attend Pre-Show Press Conferences, a media preview, the “First Look for Charity Gala,” and various other media events.

“I am impressed by the magnitude of the event,” said senior Michelle Flores. “Just from looking at the showroom floor, I can tell there will be a lot to take away from the event. This will be a great opportunity to expand my communication skills.”

Getting settled in Chicago

By Erin Guth

Day One of our Chicago Auto Show internship has come to a close. So far it has been an exciting experience and I think I can speak for all the interns when I say we cannot wait to see what the rest of this week will hold for us.

Upon arriving at McCormick Place, the location of the show, we met with our supervisors Mark Bilek, Jennifer Morand, and Julie Piatek in the media center. We were told the media center will be our headquarters for the next few days.

Our first task was to begin setting up the media credential station for the Media Preview Days that are upon us. We began by organizing the “swag” for all the media professionals which included the Chicago Auto Show reusable bags, notebooks, and lanyards. Next Piatek, a Bradley alumna and former Chicago Auto Show intern, trained us on how to use the registration system to give the media their credentials. After we became familiar with the system and the media center we were then able to able tour the show floor for the first time. This was my favorite part of the day!

Bilek, producer of the Chicago Auto Show, led us through the show floor. He walked us through all the exhibits and explained all the work that went into setting up each one. The process began a few weeks ago and was currently still in progress while we toured. It was fascinating to me to be able to see the behind the scenes work that goes into each and every auto exhibit for an event such as this.

The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in the nation and I feel honored to be able to be apart of it. Bradley has given me and the other interns such a valuable opportunity that I do not think any of us will be able to forget!