Several Emerson Communication Studies students recently participated in a global communication and public relations competition with students from 11 colleges and universities around the world. Emersonian Jordan Del Guercio ’13 was a member of the winning team.
The program, called the Global Communications Project, was founded in 2008 in Germany. Each year since, a number of multinational student communication teams are given a public relations brief for a single project and charged with developing a communication strategy. The teams collaborate virtually using email, Skype, phone, and social media, and the project culminates with the teams’ presentations of strategy pitches.
This year, each team created a communication strategy for the Eye on Earth Summit, an international environmental conference that will take place next year in Abu Dhabi. Emerson adjunct faculty member Spencer Kimball and five undergraduates who participated in the program as part of their capstone course were placed on different teams with college students from Germany, India, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Emerson was the only U.S. college involved in the competition.
In the first round, teams pitched their strategies using Skype to professors from the colleges participating in the program. The professors chose the top three teams to present their plans in person in Abu Dhabi. The panel of judges consisted of public relations professionals and dignitaries from around the world, including a former ambassador.
Jordan Del Guercio described his participation as “an example of public diplomacy that is grass roots and people-to-people oriented.” Del Guercio’s team’s winning strategy will be implemented over the next year.
Associate Professor of Communication Studies Gregory Payne, one of the Emerson faculty members who has been involved with the Global Communications Project over the years, said the entire process is a great learning experience for students. “Not only do they learn about the field of public relations,” he said, “but they also learn about working with people from different cultural backgrounds. They have to deal with cultural differences in work habits, and conflicting schedules in different parts of the world. The program produces all kinds of constraints that really occur when working globally in the real world.” In addition, Payne, who attended the conference in the UAE, singled out the relationships that students developed during the experience, as well as the opportunity they had to visit and interact with citizens of the host countries.
Next spring, Payne and Kimball hope to have their Political Communication students work on implementing the winning plan for the Eye on Earth conference, and to work with the summit’s leaders on a communication project that would feature Emerson students covering the conference as bloggers/journalists. Other students who participated in the Global Communications Project were: Kirsten Judson, Xakota Espinoza, Erica Irigoyen, Mara Lasko, Caelan McAfee-Torco, Carly Loman, Sean Werkheiser, and Hena Rizvi.