The Ebeling PR-ize goes to...

December 14, 2010

Seniors Andrew Kistner and Charles Walker come from two different camps when it comes to helmet safety. Kistner credits his life to the bicycle helmet he was wearing when struck by a car at age six. Walker, on the other hand, never wore a helmet as a kid, and thankfully never suffered any consequences. So when these public relations majors, along with classmates Eric Beals and Matt Knobloch, designed a community relations campaign about helmet safety, they included in the title, “Your Choice.”

“However one feels about the issue, our goal was to give our clients and local experts an opportunity to educate the public about the risks,” said Kistner, whose team named its agency PilotPR. “It wasn’t about us or what we think. We did extensive research and spread the word for our clients.”

The campaign was a semester-long assignment for Dr. Ron Koperski’s capstone public relations course, in which PilotPR initiated a partnership between the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, a local not-for-profit medical center, and Grayboy Motorsports, a Peoria Heights retailer. The campaign, titled “Helmet Safety Awareness in the Local Community: Your Choice,” included media coverage, a helmet safety awareness event complete with a helmet giveaway, and the combined support of local medical experts and generous donors.

The assignment integrates all the skills the students have acquired in their communications curricula and is sponsored by one of Bradley’s most distinguished alums in the public relations industry. Every semester since spring 2004, Chuck Ebeling ’66 has been challenging seniors to design and implement a public relations campaign centered on a key social issue. This semester, four groups vied for the Ebeling PR-ize.

“Most PR campaigns are designed for one client, but Chuck wanted to include a not-for-profit organization because it would create an automatic opportunity for goodwill to be created in the community for two local clients,” said Koperski, noting that some partnerships established through the project in previous semesters have endured.

Each member of the winning team will receive a cash award, but the most notable prize is the sense of accomplishment for months of hard work.

“We’re all graduating this week, so this is that cliché ‘icing on the cake’,” said Knobloch. “And to meet Mr. Ebeling, with his incredible career, will really be an honor. We’re excited to take this experience with us as we pursue future endeavors.”

In congratulating PilotPR, Ebeling pointed to the positive impacts this practical exercise brings semester after semester.

“If anyone has cause to wonder if tomorrow's professional communicators can make a positive difference in society, this program proves that they can, and already do. Everyone this program touches is a winner,” said Ebeling.