A team of nine MTSU students and alumni is celebrating two 2020 Parthenon Awards earned for a “shoestring budget” public relations campaign last fall to educate their peers about the First Amendment.
Members of School of Journalism and Strategic Media professor Hanna Park’s fall 2019 Public Relations Campaign course conducted their award-winning "1 for All @ MTSU: Freedom Comes First" project as an experiential learning campaign last November and December.
"Our PR team worked very hard last fall to engage MTSU students in the First Amendment campaign,” Park said. “They are well deserving of the awards! This recognition will help build our program's reputation for excellence."
Using a $2,000 national grant from the Free Speech Center at MTSU, which directs the nonpartisan, nonprofit 1 for All educational project, the students created a multifaceted campaign that included:
- A public forum on police accountability with former Knoxville News-Sentinel editor Jack McElroy.
- A “Freedom Comes First” information booth in the Student Union with 1 for All-themed games, prizes and free coffee and doughnuts.
- A “Freedom Comes First” free lunch that let participants choose whether to temporarily trade their five First Amendment freedoms for a chicken sandwich.
- An Instagram account, @oneforallMTSU, where students could enter prize drawings, learn more about the First Amendment in Instagram Live discussions and post photos of themselves from the information-booth event with a First Amendment-related cutout.
- A campaign-concluding “Freedoms for Finals” event, held on MTSU’s fall 2019 study day, when the group distributed 1 for All-themed pens, candy and informational business cards to students at three different campus sites.
For their efforts, the MTSU participants brought home the top student project award and the prize in the "Most Effective Campaign on a Shoestring Budget $5,000 or Less: Associations/Government/Nonprofit Organizations" category from the Nashville chapter of the Public Relations Society of America at its 34th annual Parthenon Awards ceremony, held online last month in Nashville.
The organization recognizes excellent work by Middle Tennessee industry professionals and students each year with the awards.
The winning group includes:
- Ashley Carman of Murfreesboro; Katelyn Compton of Nolensville, Tennessee; and Donivous Odom of Murfreesboro, who received their bachelor's degrees in advertising and public relations last December.
- Hannah Field of Murfreesboro; Delaney Johnson of Smithville, Tennessee; Grant Thompson, a Shelbyville, Tennessee, native who now lives in Antioch; and James Whitaker of Murfreesboro, who graduated in May with advertising and PR bachelor's degrees.
- Current senior advertising and public relations majors Kintea Webster of Nashville and Jacob West of Gallatin, Tennessee.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from making any law that establishes or restricts any religion, puts limits on speech or the press, or hinders people from peacefully assembling and complaining to or seeking help from the government.
Surveys conducted by the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and cited by MTSU’s Free Speech Center, indicate that a third of Americans can't name a single one of the rights included in the First Amendment. The students’ own research on campus had similar results.
The national surveys also show a vast majority have very little understanding of any of those rights.
"We have supported 1 for All campaigns on 50 campuses, and this is the first to be honored by communication professionals," said center director Ken Paulson.
The MTSU group spent their grant money on the food and for promotional items with their team-designed logo.
The Free Speech Center at MTSU is a nonpartisan public policy center that works to build understanding and support for the five freedoms of the First Amendment through education and information. Its resources, including the First Amendment Encyclopedia, are open to the public anytime at http://freespeech.center.
The School of Journalism and Strategic Media and the Free Speech Center are part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.
For more information on the 1 For All Campaign, visit http://1forall.today. To learn more about the journalism school, visit http://mtsu.edu/journalism. And for more on the College of Media and Entertainment and its programs, visit http://mtsu.edu/media.