Don’t Drive Distracted

Students David Clemente, Shelby Duitsman, Emily Wolfe, Mary Perisin and Evan Fay with Chuck Ebeling '66 (Duane Zehr photo)

May 20, 2014

By Matt Hawkins

A team of Bradley Department of Communication public relations seniors partnered with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department and State Farm agent Cory North this semester to raise awareness of Illinois’ hands-free cell phone law. Their efforts received the Spring 2014 Ebeling PR-ize.

The “Stay Alive, Hang Up and Drive” campaign by David Clemente, Shelby Duitsman, Evan Fay, Mary Perisin and Emily Wolfe collected more than 600 signatures from residents who pledged to use hands-free phones or abstain from cell phone use while driving. The team set up booths to collect signatures at Bradley, Northwoods Mall, Shoppes at Grand Prairie and a Chiefs game.

“This was real-world experience by bringing two separate groups together effectively communicating through us,” Perisin said. “It was a challenge, but it was but rewarding because of how it benefitted the organizations and the community.”

As the final project in the PR capstone course each semester, students partnered for-profit organizations with nonprofits to address public concerns. The organizational pairing enabled students to learn how PR functions in different settings.

“We got to see two sides of PR at once,” Clemente said. “They really are two different ways of doing things.”

In addition to close communication with clients, students worked closely with faculty in the small capstone setting. Regular contact with course instructors Dr. Maha Bashri and Dr. Ji Young Kim empowered students to produce high-quality campaigns.

“We appreciated the trust professors had in us as Bradley representatives,” Duitsman said. “That gave us the confidence to go out and to real-world work.”

Award sponsor Chuck Ebeling ’66 applauded the students’ creative collaborative efforts.

“It’s very rewarding to see new generations of students learning to be professional communicators and work in a real environment,” he said. “This gives them added confidence that what they’re doing is first-class work.”

The Ebeling PR-ize was established in 2004 to recognize excellence in public relations.  Ebeling retired in 2000 as head of corporate communications for McDonald’s where he launched the global Ronald McDonald House program.