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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.”

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

Only 8% of you approve of what Congress has been doing.

Here’s one BIG reason to vote this December, and vote OUT all incumbent candidates and bring in fresh blood.

In the aftermath of the school massacre at Sandy Hook, two years ago this December, 92% of gun owners wanted to see mandatory background checks required for all gun purchases. Yet Congress did nothing. In some states, up to 95% of the population wanted background checks, yet the Congress was afraid of the remaining 5%.

Instituting background checks for gun purchases and coming down hard on illegal gun trafficking by gangs and drug addicts could make a BIG difference in community safety across this nation, without restricting the legal ownership of guns one bit. Yet Congress did NOTHING.

Where were you when you heard about Sandy Hook? (I was driving home from officiating at a cause-related communications awards program I support at Bradley University.)

Where do you stand now?

Vote OUT Congress (of BOTH parties) this December. Send a new message, and a new Congress, to Washington.

We live in an era where big business may begin to take a backseat to local enterprise, and that is certainly the case wherever farmer’s markets have arisen, bringing fresh, locally-grown produce to the tables of appreciative cooks. A “locavore” is someone who appreciates and purchases such food. It was the “word of the year” in 2007, yet is still being discovered today. The team of senior college public relations majors who won the 17th Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related communications yesterday at Bradley University beat six other excellent teams to win the award, presented at the Mark Twain hotel near Peoria’s famous waterfront, soon to become the home of the #100 million new Peoria Riverfront Museum and the $37 million Catepillar visitor’s center. The PR-ize program, created by Bradley alumni Chuck Ebeling, challenges student teams to bring together all of the PR skills they have learned in a real, pro-bono joint project for the benefit of a local for-profit and a not-for-profit organization, demonstrating that it is possible to do well and do good in our modern society. The student work is on a par with that of a professional public relations agency or department.

A creative, six-person  student communications campaign to stimulate patronage of local businesses was the winner last night of the 7th annual Ebeling PR-ize for excellence at Loyola University Chicago. Titled, “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, Buy Local,” the campaign supported small neighborhood businesses. The online program informed the public across Chicago about values at local shops by encouraging people to make a pledge to spend at least $100 with local businesses over the holiday shopping period. 500 people took the pledge, and ABCTV news covered the event, which included a street rally handing out fliers that looked like $100 bills. The award was made at a gala reception students, faculty and guests in the Advertising and Public Relations curriculum at Loyola’s Water Tower downtown campus.

The next Ebeling PR-ize competition will recognize an outstanding team of student communicators from Bradley University at an awards luncheon in Peoria, IL on May 12th.

I established this prize program to recognize the high level, pro bono professional communications work that is being done by student teams for the benefit of local businesses and not-for-profit organizations  through the outstanding capstone courses in public relations at Loyola and Bradley.

With just over 3% women represented in the Fortune 500 CEO ranks, even in 2011, the issue of the “glass ceiling” and the need for female empowerment remains as strong as ever. This fall, a Bradley University public relations student team calling itself Inner Voice Public Relations took on the challenge of bringing new resources and focus to the issue, bringing together a local counseling company and girls of Peoria Heights High School in a dynamic training program they created, they named “Dare to Be.”

The pro-bono “Dare to Be” team became the 16th group of award recipients of the Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related communications at Bradley. The winning team consisted of Jamie Herring of Metamora, IL , Emily Bowe of Cicero, New York, and intriguingly, a male member, Shane Snyder of Edwards, IL. All were graduating seniors in the capstone PR program directed by Dr. Ron Koperski of  Bradley’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts. The winning team was feted at an awards luncheon hosted by the program creator/sponsor, Charles Ebeling, a 1966 Bradley journalism grad, and the winners each received a letter of commendation and a cash prize. Each semester at Bradley, student “agencies” select a local business and a local not-for-profit and team them in a professional cause-related communications program they create and implement, seeking real, measurable  public relations results.

Ebeling supports a similar Ebeling PR-ize program recognizing achievement in cause-related communications he created at Loyola University Chicago.

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:

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

On Friday the 14th, the 13th Ebeling PR-ize winning student team at Bradley University in Peoria, Il was announced. The winning campaign is called Shape Up the Earth, and is a recycling awareness campaign involving the Greater Peoria YMCA and Eagle Enterprises Recycling, Inc.

Just saw Demi Moore pitch Pepsi’s newly announced campaign on Morning Joe (CNBC). What a great idea! Rather than run Super Bowl ads (good positioning), Pepsi is putting their money into this campaign, engaging young people on Facebook and Twitter (as well as those of us who think young) to vote for charity ideas submitted to Pepsi and they in turn will fund the most popular ideas. Check out their website, which is excellent. Andy Serwer, editor of Fortune Magazine, affirmed on today’s program that young people respond to cause marketing.

I’ve long been an advocate of cause-related marketing and public relations as an important way companies can give back to the community and substantively help build and support good reputation. I have an awards program, called the Ebeling PR-ize, at Bradley U and Loyola U. Chicago that reward young communicators for creativity and excellence in cause-related communications. I learned that cause communications can work at McDonald’s, where I helped build the Ronald McDonald House program, Ronald McDonald House Charities, McDonald’s Cares, McHappy Day and other programs that make friends while giving back, in the spirit inspired by McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc and Al Golin, pioneering head of McDonald’s long-time PR agency, where the McDonald’s Trust Bank concept originated.

May 2023

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