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Business students are CR-Z finalists

Megan Sebestyen
Staff Writer

Students in the Business 368 Integrated Marketing Com­munications class are among the 10 final teams in the Honda CR-Z national student competition, a challenge to create a comprehensive, six-week public relations campaign for the new Honda CR-Z Sport.

“The first day of class we heard about the challenge and it was very appealing to me,” Stefanie Schmidt, team member, said. “It was very exciting to be a part of the Honda Challenge.”

Now the team of students has four weeks to implement their winning proposal, competing against the other top teams like Tulane, Syracuse and Indiana University to secure a final spot in the competition.

“It is a wonderful hands-on experience for students because they’re working on a real problem with real clients,” Costance Rossum, professor of marketing and management and faculty advisor to the project, said.

The class had five teams of three students each working to complete a PowerPoint proposal to send to Honda.

“It was kind of like a full-time job,” Schmidt said.

“We literally ate, slept and breathed Honda during that time.”

The members on the finalist team are Schmidt, Melly Ramirez and Mark Wilson. All students are seniors with majors in business administration.

“My group and I had to put so much hard work into it,” Wilson said. “It was a great presentation.”

Because only three members of the class are on the final team, the rest of the class is functioning as helpers for the team.

“The rest of the class becomes the support,” Rossum said. “Every member is very dedicated as part of the team and the team can also ask for support from friends.”

The project does not end with the first proposal, though. The final date to work on the next step of the campaign, which will be a PowerPoint of up to 25 slides and a written report, is Nov. 22, and the official proposal must be received by Dec. 1.

“Our entire class is helping us out. Basically we’re on the same team now,” Wilson said.

Out of the final 10 teams remaining, three will be chosen as the winners announced Dec. 8. These three teams will be able to meet with Honda representatives in person and give a presentation American Honda Motor Company Inc. in Torrance on Dec. 14 to a panel of industry professionals, journalists and executives from Honda.

“We put in a lot of hours and I feel like the original proposal was excellent and that’s why Honda picked us,” Ramirez said.

The University’s team has already received an award for their efforts.

As a reward for placing in the Top Ten finalists, Honda delivered a brand new Honda CR-Z on Oct. 11 to the team for use during the campaign.

“It’s this awesome little car,” Schmidt said. “It’s neat being able to have something so economical and good for the environment.”

The team is working to get the most out of this car as possible.

They are currently planning an event in which they would shoot a YouTube video of the car driving at the Pomona Fairplex. The car is currently on display outside the Campus Center.

“Part of our team’s challenge is to create excitement among the ULV community,” Rossum said. “They’re working very hard to have a number of on campus as well as off campus events.”

Regardless of outcome, though, the students who have made it this far have learned some lessons.

“One is the skill is listening to how a client defines a problem and then thinking through, very carefully, all ways to address that problem. Then the hard part is executing the plan,” Rossum said.

The benefits and lessons from this class are about more than just the competition.

“It’s not only developing and executing a promotion, its doing that and making sure that we have a good foundation of the other elements of marketing communication,” Rossum said.

More information is available online on the team’s Facebook page, on Twitter at @HondaCRaZe or at hondaCRaZe.blogspot.com.

Megan Sebestyen can be reached at megan.sebestyen@laverne.edu.

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