PR Students Hit Sustainability Home Run

All-Star PR students Kaitlin Stransky, Nikil Bontu, Caroline Fronczak, Jeremy Andrus, Samantha Rivera, Hadeel Sweiss
All-Star PR students Kaitlin Stransky, Nikil Bontu, Caroline Fronczak, Jeremy Andrus, Samantha Rivera, Hadeel Sweiss

Students in Don Ingle’s campaigns course at DePaul University won’t soon forget this year’s assignment to develop and pitch sustainability ideas to Fox Sports and Major League Baseball.

The Idea: Major League Baseball and Fox Sports University teamed up with DePaul’s PR program to provide a real-world learning opportunity focused on sustainability efforts in MLB. Six student teams spent 10 weeks studying MLB, sustainability issues and meeting with PR pros, including a visit to everyone’s favorite ballpark, Wrigley Field. Each team then created potential PR programs for MLB and Fox Sports to consider as part of their sustainability efforts.

Executives from Fox Sports and MLB flew to Chicago to hear final “exam” presentations by six teams. Picking a winning team was not an easy task, according to Kimberly Borza, Manager, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Fox Sports Networks. But after much deliberation, the team presenting a program called Strike Out Your Footprint was selected.

The PR campaigns course, featured in this article from DePaul Newsline, became a key component of this year’s MLB sustainability initiatives. Fox Sports’ Borza said the winning DePaul team’s campaign ideas were “creative, clean, and aligned perfectly with the goals of this unique FOX Sports University assignment.” They fully expect to see some of the students’ ideas woven into future sustainability efforts.

The Big Surprise: Although not part of the initial plan, Fox and MLB judges were so impressed that they arranged for the winning student team to attend the 2017 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game in Miami (all expenses paid). Besides seeing the game, students participated in the sustainability programs that were part of this year’s festivities. DePaul students served as members of the MLB Green Team alongside students from the University of Minnesota and the University of Miami. The All Star Green Team circulated throughout Marlins Park during both events to collect recyclable items (cans and plastic bottles) from fans. In addition to taking part in ballpark activations, Fox Sports University gave them a behind-the-scenes tour into the production and editing of footage, graphics and videos for the Midsummer Classic. Importantly, students had the chance to network with Fox Sports reporters (including Alex Rodriguez) as well as Fox executives to discuss careers in sports.

“Fox Sports University has given me so many incredible opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, and being able to be part of the All Star Green Team was truly a once in a lifetime experience,” said DePaul PRAD student Caroline Fronczak. “After spending countless hours researching and developing a campaign centered on sustainability in the ballpark, I loved being able to live it out at the All Star Game.”

“I’ve never had a course where the commitment from the client was so significant,” observed DePaul PR instructor Don Ingle. “Six executives from Fox Sports, their parent 21st Century Fox and Major League Baseball made two trips to meet with our students, at the beginning and to judge the finals presentations. On the way out, one of them told me he’s seen many such presentations now, and this was the best. I looked at him and asked, “Really?” And he answered, “By far!”

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