The First Amendment could use a little marketing.
As important as freedom of expression is, it turns out that about a third of Americans can’t even name a single freedom in the First Amendment, according to surveys conducted by the Freedom Forum Institute’s First Amendment Center. Only two percent of Americans can name all five – freedom of speech, press, religion and the rights of assembly and petition.
Now colleges and universities can receive grants to help public relations and communications classes design public relations campaigns that promote understanding of the First Amendment.
A new project of 1 for All and the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, the program offers $2,000 grants to support college public relations and strategic communications professors who wish to give their students hands-on PR campaign experience while building understanding of the First Amendment.
“The client is the First Amendment and democracy the beneficiary,” said Ken Paulson, founder of 1 for All and dean of the Middle Tennessee State University College of Media and Entertainment. “With support from these grants, students can design and carry out a campaign that engages their campus on the importance of our First Amendment freedoms.
“This effort is purely nonpartisan and educational,” said Paulson. “We just want to encourage your people to reflect on the importance of free speech and the value of actually listening to a wide range of ideas.”
Professors or student PR organizations can apply for the grants simply by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and making the request. A confirmation will come within 48 hours. Classes will have until Dec. 31, 2019, to spend the funds.
“The $2,000 grant can be used in any way that builds awareness,” Paulson said, adding that “most schools will use the funding for promotional materials, event support, or other outreach.”
Students can develop a campaign that engages their interests and develops their skills in areas including, but not limited to, strategic planning, social media, advertising, media relations, audience research and analysis, graphic design, project management, and event planning.
A report summarizing the research, planning, execution (strategies and tactics) and evaluation elements of the campaign will be due 30 days after the end of the semester in which the campaign runs. A memo detailing how the funding was spent must also be submitted, along with receipts or invoices to verify spending.
Every campaign submitted will be placed in a national 1 for All database available for free and public use, inspiring others to help spread understanding of the First Amendment.
1 for All is a nonpartisan educational program based at MTSU’s Free Speech Center. For more information, see this page.