Western student places in top five for national PR student of the year award

Western Today staff
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 8:28am

Western Washington University student Emily Willeman recently finished in the top five of PRWeek’s National Student of the Year contest, a competition that is open to public relations students from across the country.

Students entering the contest are tasked with writing a five-page campaign consisting of their own primary research and evaluation.

Prior to this year, PRWeek used a real company as the model for the competition, but this year opted to ask students to come up with a campaign for a fictitious company called Flight Airlines.

“Every year up until now, you’ve had a really good idea of what the company is. During the primary research, you could go up to students and ask what they thought about that specific company,” said Willeman, a native of Vancouver and a graduate of Union High School. “But because this was this was the first time they had done a fictional one, I basically had to start everything from scratch.”

Willeman’s requirement was to pair up the fictitious Flight Airlines with Olympic athletes. Using the concept of light both literally and metaphorically, she planned for the athletes to carry the light of the Olympics on “a flight relay” with Flight Airlines. In Willeman’s campaign, members of the media were invited to watch the flight relay traveling from Seattle to other parts of the United States, and eventually landing in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the upcoming the Summer Olympics. At each stop, a member of the crew would run a replica of the Olympic torch from one plane to the next. When the plane finally landed in Rio de Janeiro, the American athletes were presented the torch in a simple ceremony.

PRWeek is a monthly trade magazine written for the public relations industry with about 6,000 subscribers across the United States. 

Willeman, a journalism/public relations major, was the only student from the West Coast in the top five finalists. The awards were handed out March 20 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

For more information about PRWeek and the Student of the Year awards, visit http://awards.prweekus.com.


Western Washington University student and Vancouver, Wash., native Emily Willeman. Photo courtesy of PRWeek