GrandPR completed their second CreateAthon event on Saturday, March 16th at noon. During this event, members were able to apply objectives, strategies, tactics, and tools that they have learned in their GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program classes. They worked in small groups to come up with creative solutions to their client’s needs and learned from professionals who dropped in to provide insight and support throughout the night.
What exactly is createathon?
CreateAthon is a pro bono marketing marathon that “harnesses skills-based superpowers for social good.” They are a national 5019(c)3 nonprofit organization that recruits professional and student-led marketing teams to deliver communication strategies and materials for nonprofits during a 24-hour all-nighter event.
Each year, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) partners with CreateAthon and selects three nationally-affiliated student-run firms to host a marathon. GrandPR was selected to host a CreateAthon event in 2019 alongside Capstone Agency of The University of Alabama (February 8, 2019) and Brigham Young University PRSSA (March 29, 2019).
In 2018, GrandPR produced work for five local nonprofits: Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, HQ GR, the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and Kids Food Basket. This year, GrandPR members were able to work with West Michigan Center of Arts and Technology (WMCAT), the Disability Advocates of Kent County, Family Futures, Ele’s Place, and the Grand Rapids Pride Center. The opportunity to create tangible assets for, and the ability to network with local clients, allowed firm members to cumulate valuable experience to add to their portfolios.
“The main takeaway I had was work with a team closely and developing an integrated concept in short amount of time,” said Morgan Shaffer. “I learned to delegate tasks in order to create an efficient but thorough campaign that exceeded the client’s expectations and initial needs.”
She further explained how participating in CreateAthon fostered a new perspective on creativity which advanced her content creation and copywriting skills.
Disability advocates of kent county
Hunter Burin was able to apply his coding knowledge from one of his digital studies classes to present important information about a company in a well-designed and easy-to-digest mockup website for Disability Advocates.
“A major takeaway I had was that if you put as much effort as possible into something and have people around you to support your ideas, you can create very meaningful work,” he said.
“Working on the CreateAthon team for Family Futures allowed me to learn about their impact,” said Courtney Fogle. “I didn’t know anything about them before this, and it was a lot of fun to help them communicate their messages to their various audiences.”
While CreateAthon allowed to her joke, laugh and have a good time with her team, Courtney said it also taught her the importance of time management and just how much can be accomplished within 24 hours, if time is used wisely.
The Family Futures team was able to integrate key lessons they have learned in class like corporate communications strategies, SWOT analyses, and creative briefs.
Sarah Dudinetz worked on a team for Ele’s Place, a Grand Rapids healing center for grieving children and teens.
“There was something so fulfilling about working with a non-profit that is doing such amazing work,” she said. “Ele's place is helping better so many lives, and to help even play a small part in that process was so meaningful to me.”
GR PRIDE CENTER
“Working with the GR Pride Center helped me look at audiences in a different way,” said Evan Clark. “There’s so much more to a person than one single identity and all of this should be considered when you’re building a relationship with them”
Ella Rechner shared how beneficial CreateAthon was to create content that was impactful and purposeful for her nonprofit client. “The biggest take away was the appreciation on their faces,” she said. “They were so happy with what we created, and it made the whole experience more than worth it.”
A common theme throughout the experiences CreateAthon members shared was their appreciation for their fellow firm members and the opportunity to advance their professional development by working with local nonprofit organizations.
“Working with young, motivated students makes me happy for my future collaborating in the profession,” said Courtney Fogle.
Firm members were hard at work during the 24-hour event, however creativity flows best when you’re having fun. Throughout the marathon, firm members took time for brain breaks with playdoh, DIY slime, facemasks, dancing, yoga, and plenty of snacks.
Thank you to the generous sponsors, our host, 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications, and the CreateAthon committee for formulating a successful event.
Are you a…
Local nonprofit? Stay tuned to become a client for CreateAthon 2020!
Professional? Stay tuned to see how you can mentor or host a workshop during next year’s event!
GVSU AD&PR Student? Get plenty of rest for next year!
Emily M. Gagnon worked alongside the Disability Advocates for Kent County team for CreateAthon 2019. Her favorite part was seeing the unique solutions each team came up for their client. Emily is an Account Associate with GrandPR majoring in advertising and public relations with a minor in digital studies. When she’s not staying up 24 hours with GrandPR, Emily enjoys discovering new hobbies like snowboarding, sewing, and swing dancing.