PRWeek Awards - Student of the Year

Winner

Meghan Stafford, University of Minnesota,Twin Cities

A combination of creativity, research, and confidence propelled Stafford to the top of the Student of...

Winner

Meghan Stafford, University of Minnesota,Twin Cities

A combination of creativity, research, and confidence propelled Stafford to the top of the Student of the Year class. The University of Minnesota senior presented an idea to the judges that focused on the creation of the Motorola Mob Squad.

Playing on a theme of superheroes, the squad would be made up of Motorola’s most senior executives, including CEO Ed Zander; Daniel Moloney, president of Motorola Connected Home Solutions; and Padmasree Warrior, the company’s chief technology officer.Various squad members would tour the country for an innovation road show, and Stafford’s plan included detailed explanations of where the team would travel and why, in order to maximize high-profile technology events throughout the year. Her plan also included a blogging initiative, a Second Life presence, and viral video extensions, to reach more of the target demographic of “prosumers,” technologically savvy early adopters. She also suggested the creation of a Motorola-inspired “bat signal” that would light up the sky in cities visited by the Mod Squad.

Stafford pitched this idea to Jason Pontin, editor of MIT’s Technology Review. He praised her knowledge of the publication, understanding of the technology, and confident, lucid pitching style.

When asked what one big idea she would suggest for the launch of a new Motorola Bluetooth headset, Stafford connected blue to the blues, and turned the debut into an opportunity to bring some attention to the ongoing recovery of New Orleans. Motorola would hold the “Unforgettable Blues Blast” featuring blues artists, as well as big names from a range of musical genres. Musicians would be seen by all, but would be performing inside a specially constructed, enclosed box. The only way to hear the music would be to listen at booths through the Bluetooth headsets, or to purchase a headset from one of the vendors in the area.

The launch would also have a cause component as profits from the concert would benefit the region’s ongoing recovery. A special blue “Never Forget” rubber bracelet would debut at the event and be sold as long as the effort was ongoing.

Stafford’s presentations and ideas were inventive and well-informed, built on a solid foundation of research. “Meghan shined in all activities. Her thinking was strategic and creative,” said one judge. “Her presentation was confident, passionate, and sound. She was quick on her feet and took everything to the next level. A real up-and-comer.”

Honorable Mention

Katherine Test, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Hurricane Katrina showed that communications failures will only compound problems for those trying to recover from unexpected disasters, and the organizations trying to help them. Test’s pitch centered on positioning Motorola as a leader in disaster relief communications, which she felt would help it raise awareness of its innovative technologies, while also contributing to the global community. The program would be known as the HelloMotoAlways campaign. Test’s idea was to hold mock disaster drills to help groups and communities prepare for issues before they arise. Through a partnership with the Hands On Volunteer Network, Motorola would let staffers travel on one paid five-day volunteer trip per year to help assist in emergencies. Another part of the plan was to establish a first-responder team of employees to act instantly in case of real-life disasters. Judges were impressed with Test’s presentation skills, writing, enthusiasm, and her focus on employees as the company’s central stakeholders.

Finalists 2007

  • Melissa Andrews State University of New York at Oswego

  • Leila Boukassi State University of New York at Oswego

  • Mary Ramos, St John Fisher College, Rochester, NY

  • Meghan Stafford University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • Katherine Test University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

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