Students develop #NASCARNoise campaign for FOX Sports

Published: June 17, 2015
Updated: July 01, 2015
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Last fall, College of Liberal Arts public relations professor Brigitta Brunner and representatives from FOX Sports University, a national program focused on bringing the real world into the classroom, collaborated on a project challenge for Brunner's campaigns class. The project involved NASCAR, social media and a whole lot of noise.

Throughout the fall semester, the students worked with Kaitlyn Beale, Erik Arneson and Megan Englehart from FOX Sports on campaign ideas to generate NASCAR fan engagement across all different platforms of media. At the end of the semester, and in competition with each other, Brunner's students pitched their campaign ideas to FOX Sports and later discussed these ideas with NASCAR executives.

FOX Sports University announced the winning group of the competition after the presentations were made, congratulating public relations majors Whitney Jones, Lillian Parker, Chelsea Roadman, Catherine Watson and Chelsea Zillner last December.  A component of their campaign, #NASCARNoise debuted for the 10 Days of Thunder and the All-Star races in May. NASCAR and FOX Sports University officials brought the winning students and Brunner out to Charlotte, NC, to experience #NASCARNoise first-hand at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"We wanted the students to see their idea being brought to life in real time," Beale, manager of marketing and strategic partnerships at FOX Sports, said of the campaign implementation. "And coming to the track in Charlotte and being able to see full-circle how an event of this caliber is produced while observing how we brought their ideas to life gave them the full behind-the-scenes experience."

Students Jones, Parker, Roadman, Watson, Zillner and professor Brunner were given the ultimate experience by NASCAR and FOX Sports. In addition to witnessing the promotion of #NASCARNoise and fans engaging with their campaign and meeting several executives, production crews and on-air talent, the students were also given pitpasses at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which means they were in the pit when the drivers came in.

"Charlotte was fascinating," Watson said. "After spending an entire semester researching NASCAR, fans, venues, drivers and the general culture of the sport, we were able to see it in the flesh. It was an unforgettable experience."

"Our trip to Charlotte, NC was an absolute blast," Parker said. "We had a wonderful time seeing our ideas brought to life and learned so much about the personality of NASCAR and FOX Sports."

Beale, Arneson and Englehart of FOX Sports said that each of the campaigns presented by the students were impressive, but they chose #NASCARNoise as the winner because they felt the campaign and ideas presented connected organically to the theme and social strategy for 10 Days of Thunder, a two-weekend block of FOX Sports 1 programming and track activity built around two of NASCAR's most popular events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600.

"NASCARNoise is the sound of the cars, it's the sound of the fans, it's the sound of everything," Beale said. "We launched the campaign through social and digital platforms and found fans really connected with it. We received some great fan-based engagement and interactions through NASCAR and pit teams, and anyone you can imagine talking about who they cheer for."

Along with experiencing the noise of a racetrack, the students got an up-close look at public relations work in the real world. Brunner said that the trio from FOX Sports encouraged the students to work harder so that their ideas were focused and polished.

"I believe, and hope, that my students were able to better understand what it is like to work in the field of public relations from this project," Brunner said. "They gained perspective on what kinds of tasks are assigned, the significance of deadlines and time-tables, time-management skills, the need for creative solutions, and the process of constructive criticism."

The campaigns class is a senior-level class in which public relations students use the skills and knowledge gained in their previous coursework to work with community partners, or clients, on public relations challenges. The course helps students to develop their creativity and critical thinking, problem solving, writing and presentation skills.

The collaborators from FOX Sports said they enjoyed the process and were impressed by the students.

"The strength of this entire project revolved around each group's willingness to listen, make changes and evolve," said Erik Arneson, FOX Sports vice president of media relations. "It was incredibly rewarding to come back to the class after offering early critiques and seeing what each group did to incorporate suggestions and direction … there are going to be several rock stars to emerge from this Auburn program."

To see how FOX Sports University and NASCAR have implemented the students' campaign, visit: https://twitter.com/FOXSports1/status/598883262400962560.

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