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Emerson Lions Bring Guerrilla PR to ‘Shark Tank’ Companies

A person dressed up as the Dirty Fairy character created by students in the class for a campaign
The Dirty Fairy is part of the brand strategy created by Emerson students for Shower Toga.

Students in David Gerzof Richard’s Guerrilla PR class are now swimming with the sharks — the “sharks” of the long-running ABC show Shark Tank

“This being a class that looks at running campaigns [with budgets that are] next to nothing, it fits really well with the Boston start-up scene, specifically with these ideas and companies that don’t even have a marketing director let alone someone running PR,” said Richard, senior affiliated faculty member in Communications Studies and founder/CEO of BIG FISH PR.

David Gerzof Richard
David Gerzof Richard

The class is designed to give students a strong understanding of fundamental communication strategies for public relations campaigns with little to no budget. 

His students have designed PR campaigns for prominent brands like RunKeeper, TaskRabbit, Art Lifting, FC Barcelona, and Amazon’s Pill Pack. This semester, for the first time, students are working with companies that appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank.

For many Emerson students, they recognize the rare opportunity to work with, and hopefully impress, nationally recognized companies.

“This is my first time collaborating with a company in the United States, and it is a really great and unique opportunity,” said Selyn Zhou ‘25 

“There aren’t many college students who have the opportunity to work with brands that have faced national exposure,” said Luke Clark ‘24. 

Thanks to former Shark Tank participant and creator of Little Nomad, Elizabeth Granados ‘01, Richard posted in a Facebook group comprised of Shark Tank companies, asking if they wanted to partner with his students to create PR marketing campaigns. Five companies expressed interest in collaborating with the students: Shower Toga, Slawsa, Boarderie, Buckle Me Baby Coats, and Chord Buddy.

A group of four students pitched a digital strategy to Shower Toga to create a more captivating and identifiable character for customers. The proposed campaign features a Shower Toga superhero mascot to counter its enemy, the Dirty Fairy-a character introduced during the Shower Toga’s presentation on Shark Tank

Kressa Peterson, the founder of Shower Toga, a portable 5-ounce nylon product designed to function as a mobile changing room, enabling you to shower and change with privacy, spoke highly of the collaboration with the students. 

“It was great to be able to discuss strategy with a group of excited, young, and motivated students,” said Peterson. “I got a lot of different ideas and perspectives from them. Working with them over these last few months was motivating for me and my team.”

“In college, you discuss ideas, but there’s often a lack of follow-through, but here in this class and with Shower Toga, it was really awesome to see the design come to fruition,” said Clark. 

Shower Toga implemented the marketing campaign, but it has not yielded an immediate increase in sales, albeit Peterson remains optimistic that momentum will build in the near future. 

“We loved the strategy and we do think with some traction behind it moving forward it could be a profitable campaign,” said Kressa. “We are planning on using the videos for our social media and expect that to gain some traction that could lead to sales.”

For many students, working with companies like Shower Toga, provided a hands-on experience to gain valuable insights into the possibility of pursuing a career in marketing and public relations. 

“I definitely am very interested in PR marketing as a career path,” said Ciel Antoine ’25. “Being trusted with such an important task for a company that has appeared on Shark Tank has greatly boosted my confidence.”

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