University of Evansville
In this 1 for All public relations project, student teams picked causes they cared about and built PR campaigns using First Amendment freedoms to promote them.
Tamara Wandel, associate professor of communication, said, “We wanted to try something completely different to encourage students to consider how the First Amendment affects them.
“Each team tackled an issue of interest to them and used the platform to push awareness of First Amendment freedoms.”
The causes were these:
- Helping veterans transition to civilian life.
- Providing toiletries and shoes for impoverished children.
- Offering a safe space and gender-affirming clothing to youth.
The teams presented data and engaged other students on campus in discussions about how the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition guaranteed by the First Amendment had been and could be used to further what people believe in and care about most strongly.
“This was stuff they got excited about — researching, talking to people, finding out what rights may have been violated at times and why our freedoms are so important,” Wandel said.
“It was absolutely eye-opening to many,” she added. “I think in many cases they never linked freedoms with their own beliefs or passions, much less had an opportunity to encourage peers to consider it.”
Another piece of the PR campaign was the participation in a community labeling challenge “to identify in certain timeframes just how much we exercise our freedom of speech,” Wandel said. The students used color-coded labels representing various freedoms as they observed onlookers participating in day-to-day activities that would not be possible without the First Amendment.
At least 100 students took part. “We do plan to take the project further, and it will be an ongoing effort,” Wandel said.
“We are starting the process to create a podcast series to further illuminate free-expression issues associated with social causes which interest the students. This will give them the chance to practice skills related to information gathering, interviewing, storytelling, and broadcasting, and of course increase awareness of invaluable First Amendment freedoms.”