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Positive PR

Bradley student Shelby Brown learns self-defense techniques at an event organized by Bradley public relations seniors. (Photo provided by Kris Parks, Kuk Sool Won of Pekin)

December 6, 2016

Bradley public relations seniors find creative ways to improve the Peoria metro area each year through a friendly final project competition. Through the Ebeling PR-ize, students build relationships with local businesses and nonprofits in effort to improve the lives of local residents.

Founded by retired McDonald’s communications executive Chuck Ebeling ’66, the senior capstone challenges students to address worthy causes in the community with help from local organizations.

“This takes every class we ever took and threw it into one project,” said Kayley Koter, of Des Plaines, Illinois. “It’s a big deal because this is real life. It affects real people.”

Fall 2016 capstones targeted safety and financial concerns. One group paired area martial arts school Kuk Sool Won with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Peoria to encourage and empower girls and young women. Another campaign paired Peoria education nonprofit Common Place with an area Mass Mutual office to promote financial basics. A third campaign promoted safe neighborhoods by passing out LED porch lights and hosting a block party with help from Ameren Illinois, Peoria Police Explorers and community advocacy organization South Side Community United for Change.

The experience pushed students outside their comfort zones as they took time to understand life and concerns of Peoria metro area residents.

“It’s good that we’re forced to get to know the city,” said Madeleine Koenig-Schappe, of Columbia, Missouri. “As we met people, we realized there were many important issues we could work on. Once we picked one, it was good to see the impact we could make, even though it was just a semester project.”

Students formed teams and functioned as full-service PR agencies for the semester. They followed the traditional PR campaign planning process from initial research to post-event analysis. Because of the small teams, students touched all elements of PR, with its marketing, advertising, event planning and business applications.

For many participants, the Ebeling competition was an introduction to nonprofit work. Though they may have volunteered for community service projects at Peoria-area organizations throughout their Bradley years, classroom and internship experiences focused on corporate PR.

As a result, the semester opened new career possibilities for people like Koter, whose group worked with Common Place.

“It was heartwarming and eye-opening to see the impact of organizations we worked with,” Koter said. “I hadn’t considered working in the nonprofit world before, but this is something I could see myself doing.”

The Ebeling PR-ize has recognized the top PR campaigns each since 2004. Previous winning teams include Hope Grandon ’11, whose competition success helped her land at the Denver Art Museum, where her team won a 2014 Silver Anvil — the top award from the Public Relations Society of America. Other past Ebeling campaigns included a voter drive and a community-building day of remembrance a year after a tornado devastated nearby Washington, Illinois.

“You’re going to have a hand up on many other graduates because of opportunity like this,” said Koenig-Schappe. “It’s really enriching to learn how to do a project in real time, with real people that produces real results.”


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Post-tornado support campaign wins Ebeling PRize at Bradley University

December 18, 2014

Empowered Media, a team of Bradley University public relations students, has been awarded the Ebeling PRize for the top senior public relations campaign completed this semester.

With the support of the Washington, Illinois community and its leaders, Empowered Media partnered with Five Points Washington, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, and Washington Township United Fund, to host the kickoff event to the first ever Washington Strong week. The November event, “Cooking Up Community,” was a celebration of solidarity for residents and businesses affected by the November 2013 tornado that devastated that community. Local businesses set up booths at the event and Washington residents came together to socialize and participate in many activities.

The Empowered Media team includes seniors Samantha Pallini of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Erika Kubik of St. Charles, Missouri, Taylor Stephens of Edina, Minnesota, and Anna Wilks of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Ebeling PR-ize™ was conceived by Bradley alumnus Chuck Ebeling and faculty member Dr. Ron Koperski, and is a competitive program among Bradley’s senior public relations students in their capstone course. It was first awarded in 2004.Students in the capstone course form “agency” teams and are responsible for planning and implementing a real, coordinated public relations campaign on behalf of a local business and a compatible community service organization. Campaign submissions and judging criteria are based on the nationally recognized Silver Anvil Award competition administered by the Public Relations Society of America.

Ebeling served as a public affairs officer in the Army and later held public relations positions with several major agencies and national corporations before joining McDonald’s Corporation, where he rose to the position of chief spokesman and vice president of corporate communications. A 1966 graduate of Bradley, he was inducted into the University’s Centurion Society in October, 2011,  in recognition of his achievements in business, public life, and his profession.P1020523

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In all the years since I was nearly drafted into the Army following college graduation, and instead went into an accelerated program to become an Army officer at legendary Fort Knox, Kentucky, I’ve never met or corresponded with any of the soldiers I served with, not attended any veteran’s event. But in October, 2014, a unique reunion is being planned — a gathering of surviving graduates of the Armor Officer’s Candidate School I attended there in 66-67. That school was only in operation there for four years during the Vietnam War. I plan to attend that reunion, both to hopefully meet a few of those I trained with, and to visit again the grounds of the old Armor School, where I trained for 10 months and 10 days through the heat of a Kentucky summer and a wild winter. My exploits there and through two years of active duty, including a brief stint in Vietnam, are the subject of my essay, “All That Glitters,” presented two years ago before Chicago Literary Club. The essay can be found at http://www.chilit.org. Search under “List of Members” then my name then the title.

The 50th anniversary celebration of the James Bond movie legacy was an Oscar’s highlight to me, personified by Shirley Bassey, still sultry in her 70s, and her powerful rendition of Goldfinger, emblematic of the Bond series and of an era when the power of gold still shone.

I wrote an essay rooted in those times, “All that Glitters,” which captures my own rendezvous with the gold vault at Fort Knox and the empty promises its symbolism held for me. You can find my essay by searching at http://www.chitlit.org for the title. Below is an excerpt:

“It was a cold late October night, four years later, as I hopped off the back of a military truck, my M14 rifle was handed down, and I reported for guard duty, marching the muddy perimeter fence at a mysterious place, the fabled United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

“A few months before, I’d completed my degree in journalism, at Bradley University. As I trudged shivering along the barbed wire-topped fence surrounding the dimly lit vault building, 50 yards over my shoulder, I could barely imagine how my own path had brought me to this odd place.

“Absentmindedly, I wondered if the inside of the nearby vault looked anything like it had been portrayed in the newest James Bond film, Goldfinger, filmed right here at Fort Knox just the year before? And, were there still mountains of 27-pound solid gold bars, some 4,600 tons worth, stacked only yards from my humble guard path, or had those billions long since been trucked away and dissipated into the world’s coffers, as had been rumored? I wondered what was true, and what was just illusion. I was so far from any answers.

“In another seven months, I’d leave Fort Knox, bringing along two very small gold bars of my own — worn on my shoulders. My little war story had begun.”

In the Spotlight (from current Bradley University website)

Voter Drive Wins Ebeling PR-ize

From left to right: Chuck Ebeling ’66; seniors Taylor Fisher, Molly Geraghty, Camille Ivy-O’Donnell; Dr. Ron Koperski. Not pictured is senior Morgan Kotars, the winning team’s fourth member.

By Frank Radosevich II
December 14, 2012

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.”

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My all-time blog hits on WordPress topped 25,000 sometime after last midnight, which may have been made possible partially by a new kind of people being called “Nocturnavores.”

This morning, I read a wonderful story about how McDonald’s ad agency in Columbus, Ohio, has coined the word “Nocturnavores” in reference to those customers seeking out “Breakfast After Midnight”.  McDonald’s now has some 127 restaurants in northern Ohio serving customers 24 hours a day, and offering breakfast after midnight, instead of after 5am. Thus, the breakfast “day part” is extended to 10 hours (midnight to 10am) at McDonald’s, reflecting and anticipating dining trends, especially among younger people. http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2012/07/31/mcdonalds-launches-breakfast-after.html.

The term “locavores” was coined several years ago to refer to people who choose to buy locally-grown food. The 2012 spring Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related public relations at Bradley University was won by a team that created a campaign called “The Peoria Locavores,” promoting locally-produced food in the Peoria, Illinois market.

 

A sprawling bur oak, lively as ever, dated to 1499, visited on Friday, in the High Wine Historic District on the bluff near Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois. 

Seems like a silly question — how could something so absolutely state-of-the-art as the about-to-be-announced IPhone 5 not WORK?

Well, I’ve had an IPhone 3GS for a couple of years, and thanks to AT&T, it hasn’t worked very well, and sometimes not at all where I spend most of my time, at our house just south of Lake Geneva, WI. The service here is spotty at best, and despite the flat land and proximity to Chicago, there are many areas up here where the phone is dead, sometimes including my house. Guess AT&T is too cheap to lease enough antennas, or band width or something.

My contract with AT&T is now up, and I was looking forward to getting a new IPhone 5 and switching service to Verizon, but now I’m a little confused, as I hear Sprint may well be added by Apple, and friends here and about tell me Sprint service is great in southern Wisconsin, as well as Chicago. So, I’ll check the rate structure and internet comments on both Verizon and Sprint before deciding. An IPhone is a bit of a luxury for a retired person like myself, who is likely to use the data service for apps much more often than the phone itself.

I don’t get many calls on my cell, because there’s not much that’s urgent enough in my life to justify a cell call. So, I have my phone set to quack like a duck when a call comes in. That infrequent “quack” recently became disconcerting when my wife called me while I was at a dinner reception with the president of my alma mater, Bradley University. I’d left the phone in my briefcase, which was leaning against a wall behind her, as she gave after dinner remarks from a podium. A few minutes into her talk, the briefcase began softly quacking. She bravely went on, and I never admitted it was my phone, except in a sheepish note I sent her later. Anyway, this is sounding too much like an Andy Rooney monologue, so I’ll sign off, and look forward to a new IPhone 5, one that will “quack” wherever I happen to be located.

The 15th Ebeling PR-ize (copyright Charles Ebeling, 2011) awards at Bradley University for excellence in cause-related public relations were recently presented to a team of four talented graduating senior students. Their winning campaign, for real clients, called “Connect & Protect: Cyber Security for Seniors,” and won in stiff competition among six teams. Each student team selected their own cooperating regional for-profit and not-for-profit organization to bring together in a creative campaign they created, to bring awareness, contributions, volunteers and publicity for a different worthy cause. One.der Communications, as the winning team called themselves, brought together for-profit Web Tech Services, Inc. and not-for-profit RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in a professional-level, well-planned, strategic communications program they created to enhance cyber security training and awareness among Peoria-area senior citizens. The winning team members received letters of commendation and split a cash PR-ize provided by program creator Chuck Ebeling. The winners were feted at an awards luncheon in Peoria, attended by Ebeling and faculty members at Bradley’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, as well as area judges and client representatives.

More information on the winning campaign can be found at the website the student team created: SeniorCyberSecurity.com.

Chuck Ebeling also sponsors a similar Ebeling PR-ize program at Loyola University, Chicago.

The latest round of winners in this university cause-related public relations competition appear here: http://www.bradley.edu/inthespotlight/story/?id=117448

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