Hattie Hoskins ’16, agency director for Live Oak Communications, was one of five national finalists for the PR magazine’s student of the year contest.
Strategic communications major Hattie Hoskins ’16 was named one of five national finalists for the 2016 PRWeek Student of the Year Award, joining students from Seton Hall University, Texas Tech University, Florida International University and the University of Maryland.
As part of the national competition, the agency director for Live Oak Communications, Elon University’s student-run strategic communications agency, created a public relations campaign for Toyota. The international automotive manufacturer sponsored PRWeek’s student competition.
Each participant was asked to produce a campaign for the Toyota Prius, building brand awareness and targeting Hispanics and Latinos in the United States, a demographic with mounting purchasing potential, noted Hoskins.
In the weeks leading up to the contest’s December deadline, Hoskins worked extensively with John Doorley, visiting associate professor of communications, to perfect her campaign plan. Having judged past PRWeek student contests, Doorley’s insight proved to be invaluable.
“He acted as my adviser throughout the process, asking me the questions that I needed to hear,” Hoskins said. “He challenged my ideas so that they could reach their highest potential.”
The Tennessee native built her campaign around the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, specifically soccer events leading up to the international competition. As part of her campaign pitch, she proposed creating her own PR agency, compiling a staff who would promote special events where 16 Priuses were given away.
“It was a brilliant idea, and it showed the power of PR,” said Doorley, noting Hoskins’ proposed budget was just a modest fraction of Toyota’s total budget. “Having been a judge in the past, I would have been shocked if she didn’t turn up in the top group, and there she was.”
“I did a lot of research about the U.S. Hispanic and Latino communities beforehand because I was unfamiliar with that demographic,” Hoskins said. “My overall goal was to craft a campaign that really tapped into their personal identities and that they could relate with and be excited about. I thought our soccer events could do just that.”
The judges with PRWeek agreed, and Hoskins advanced as one of just five contest finalists. The next step was a five-minute pitch call with a magazine reporter as well as a 100-word written response to a crisis communications situation. Although Hoskins was not selected as one of the two remaining finalists — the magazine will announce a winner in March – she called the competition a great learning experience.
“I received a lot of feedback from Professor Doorley throughout the process, and I would call that the best part of the whole experience,” she said. “I really saw this as a learning opportunity, and it definitely was. I got to master skills that I haven’t had time to focus on before.”
Additionally, Hoskins thanked Associate Professor Naeemah Clark who initially recommended that she participate in the contest and facilitated her collaboration with Doorley. Clark also reviewed Hoskins’ campaign and prepared her for the magazine pitch call.
Doorley commended Hoskins for her hard work and advised other Elon students to take up the challenge in future years, participating in competitions presented by PRWeek, the Arthur W. Page Society and others.
“Hattie should be proud of her finish and, as I told her in a note, it should be on her resume until she’s at least 70, maybe older,” Doorley said. “Other students should be watching for contests like this because our students are good enough to compete and win.”