Strategic communications majors thrive in Ketchum's Mindfire Challenge
Fletcher Rowe ’19 and Alex Hale ’19 pitched marketing ideas to the public relations agency’s clients, attempting to solve real-life issues facing the organizations.
Fletcher Rowe ’19 and Alex Hale ’19, strategic communications majors in the School of Communications, were recently honored for their individual entries in Ketchum’s Mindfire Challenge program, a contest that asks students to pitch creative solutions to real-life challenges.
Developed by Ketchum, an international public relations agency with offices in 70 countries, the Mindfire Challenge solicits ideas from college students to help solve the business issues of different Ketchum clients.
Through an online crowd-sourcing platform, designed like a social media site, students pitch marketing ideas to Ketchum’s clients, vote for fellow students they consider to have the best solutions, ask questions and share information.
This semester Rowe has won two Mindfire competitions and Hale took first place in another. Rowe’s two winning entries involved a dandruff shampoo maker and laundry detergent product, while Hale renamed Ketchum’s internet platform. Because of confidentiality issues, full details about the client or the students’ concept cannot be disclosed. For each victory, the students receive $100 from the client sponsoring the challenge.
Rowe and Hale participated in the competitions as part of their “Public Relations and Civic Responsibility” course, taught by Associate Professor Bill Anderson.
“The Mindfire Challenges grant students insight into what public relations practitioners do on a daily basis, including the planning process and the brainstorming,” said Anderson. “This helps students learn while simulating the work experience. I’m excited that my students have delivered really breakthrough ideas for real clients.”
What started as an ordinary class assignment has now turned into an outlet for his creativity, explained Rowe.
"I originally just did the challenges because it was a part of my syllabus for my public relations class, but then I started to have a lot of fun with it,” the sophomore said. “The program gives you client scenarios and students around the country give ideas on how to solve the problems in the scenario. I noticed it was all based on creativity, so I really thought outside the box. Winning two Mindfire Challenges reinforces the idea that the weirdest, most out-there ideas might be exactly what is needed.”