By Stephanie Cohen / Special to The Tally Wire | Photo: PRWeek
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Maribeth McClenny, a University of Alabama senior was recently announced first runner-up for PRWeek’s 2020 Outstanding Student, a nationally recognized award. PRWeek’s Outstanding Student Award is sponsored by IBM, and college students from across the nation can participate in the competition. The students are responsible for creating a campaign by themselves, including all aspects from research to implementation.
The awards ceremony was originally scheduled in March in New York City but was moved virtually due to COVID-19.
PRWeek chose Earth Day 2020 as this year’s theme and tasked students with creating a campaign to convince Floridians to participate in beach cleanups and wildlife rehabilitation events. McClenny, who grew up in Tallahassee, began by devising a survey that received over 150 responses and interviewed Florida government officials.
“Research was easily the largest component of my campaign,” McClenny said. “This data collection led me to realize that there was a gap between the older and younger generations in understanding Florida’s environmental issues. That is where my campaign name — ‘Our Choice, Our State’ — came from.”
McClenny’s campaign utilized on-site brand activations and influencer marketing to reach her target audience. She planned to have volunteers hand out green-dyed water at marathons to raise awareness about Florida’s poor water quality. To appeal to the younger generations, she created a hashtag, #IfFloridaHadNoWater, for TikTok and Instagram.
“Maribeth’s approach to the campaign was professional, creative and research-based, and she is deserving of this recognition by our industry,” said Teri Henley, Capstone Agency firm adviser and UA A+PR instructor.
PRWeek first selected five students to pitch their campaigns to a PRWeek editor. From there, the top-two finalists were invited to the PRWeek Awards. McClenny represented UA, Capstone Agency and Tallahassee at the virtual awards ceremony on July 30. UA’s public relations department was also awarded top education program at the ceremony.
McClenny graduated from Leon High School in May 2017 and joined Capstone Agency as a media coordinator in the fall of 2018. She has since been promoted to senior media coordinator and director of the media department.