Senior public relations majors in the Public Relations Campaigns course, PRL 480, started their “1 for All” campaign by conducting research, then developing individual strategic communications plans, which were graded by the professor, Ray Begovich, and then combined by students into a single overall class plan. Creative materials (videos, posters, a large banner, photos, social media posts, signs and temporary tattoos) called for by the plan were written, designed, produced and distributed. A special event was held as the cornerstone of First Amendment awareness efforts.
Before deciding on any strategies and tactics, all students in the class conducted research of the target audience – Franklin College undergraduate students. Methodologies used by the students were an online survey, intercept interviews and two focus groups. Key findings of the students’ research:
- The overwhelming majority of respondents had essentially only a passing knowledge of the First Amendment.
- At best, respondents could cite one or two freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
- Respondents said the best way to engage them on such an issue was at a daytime event that provided free food and at which students could come and go as they pleased (i.e., not a lecture, panel discussion or other type of presentation).
Following the research activities, all 16 students in the class wrote individual strategic communications plans for the 1 for All campaign and received individual grades. Students then combined what they believed were the most effective elements of the individual plans into one workable, manageable, affordable plan.
The key tactic of the plan was a 1 for All awareness event held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Oct. 29 in the high-traffic area of the student center atrium. Free doughnuts, brownies, cookies, coffee and lemonade were provided to any student who read the First Amendment aloud.
Participants could read off a large banner designed and created for the event, or from previously distributed tickets designed for the event and imprinted with the First Amendment language.
Print and digital materials
- Social media posts of various campus groups (e.g., the entire football team) reciting the First Amendment were produced and distributed with social media posts promoting the event. A video of readings was also created.
- Audio readings of the First Amendment by professors from a variety of disciplines were produced and distributed with social media posts promoting the event.
- Student-designed four-color, 11 x 17 posters promoting the event were placed in every campus building.
- Temporary tattoos carrying First Amendment language were designed and produced, and given to participants after they read the First Amendment (many wore the tattoos all day on their hands or foreheads).
- Quote-bearing cartoon-bubble props were purchased and designed with individual First Amendment freedoms chalked onto them; these were then used as fun photo props at the event for viral sharing via social media.
- A parchment-like copy of the First Amendment was displayed at the event.
- A “dig-deeper” one-page flyer was distributed at the event, encouraging attendees to explore serious First Amendment issues; with the piece designed to drive traffic to the First Amendment Encyclopedia and the Free Speech Center web site.
At least 176 students participated. (There were many more, but only 176 could be reliably counted at the hectic event.) The figure represents 19.5 percent of the student body at the small liberal arts college just south of Indianapolis. A pretty remarkable turnout!