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When you see talent, education and compassion come together in young people, the world seems like it has a chance. That was the feeling that several hundred students, faculty and friends at the Loyola University, Chicago School of Communications shared last night, when I had the honor of presenting the Ebeling PR-ize for excellence in cause-related communications to several outstanding student teams, for the 7th year.

The winning team, of the 11 groups competing for the 2013 PR-ize, created the campaign, “Make the Connection. Paint a Brighter Future” innovating social media and creative collateral materials and expanded outreach through art stores in support of an art therapy program that benefits inner city at-risk students.

Honorable mentions went to teams that developed communications campaigns to benefit Chicago Canine Rescue and a program to aid teachers and community organizations to integrate music into the curriculum.

Here are opening thoughts I shared with the students last night:

There are never enough opportunities to celebrate successes in life, and for all of us here tonight, this is one such opportunity. Mahatma Gandhi, if I may be so bold to invoke his name, said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

This is an occasion when we celebrate what has been done for the community by several student groups, and what they have communicated to others to assist these not-for-profit organizations.  Thanks to their individual skills, their professional teamwork, and bolstered by the communications strategies and technologies they have studied here at Loyola, they have made a positive difference.

Today we also celebrate Earth Day, when we take notice of an environment that still sustains our lives, despite many challenges. It’s an environment that sustains our health and physical freedoms as human beings. Whether we are running in the race of our lives, or just cheering on others from the sidelines, we are one people on one earth, and to some extent, what affects each of us affects us all. The events of the past week certainly underline that.

So let me tie this together by observing that there are people watching and learning from what you think, what you say and what you do. The efforts of all the student teams here tonight point toward the reasons that we can remain hopeful.

And what do we think about their efforts? We think they and their results are terrific. So, to paraphrase Gandhi, what they have done and said, and what we all think about them, are in harmony, and we are happy about that. Very happy, indeed.

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.

May 2022
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