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Public relations team wins second place in national competition

Top photo:  Students who traveled to Washington, D.C., to present their "no name, no fame" campaign to the Department of Homeland Security . (l to r) Mafe Balthazar, Elise Buchanan, Gracie Gipson, Nora Klas and Aeriel Pearson

Students from the Public Relations Campaigns class in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications won second place in the national Invent2Prevent Competition sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and EdVenture Partners. The competition empowers university and high school students to develop innovative projects that help prevent targeted violence and terrorism in their local communities. 

The student campaign “no name, no fame” aims to prevent the lasting effects of revealing the names of mass shooters in the media in an effort to mitigate the media contagion and copycat effects of sensationalizing these horrific crimes. The two-pronged effort launched a petition which garnered nearly a thousand signatures to track public support of the cause. They also developed media guidelines and a training program for journalists to navigate this touchy subject, as well as published an opinion editorial in three South Carolina newspapers.   

The student team included Mafe Balthazar, Jillian Brown, Elise Buchanan, Gracie Gipson, Nora Klas, Ciara Laney, Olivia Leon, Anna Mlodzinski and Aeriel Pearson.

"Through collaboration with South Carolina journalists and J-School professors, " says Balthazar, "we devised ways to alternatively and effectively report on these tragedies while limiting the chances of giving fame and notoriety to the perpetrator."

"I’m always amazed how each year our students raise the standard of excellence," says instructor Ernie Grigg. This team in particular got a lot of work done in a short amount of time." 

Grigg says he knew they had developed a strong and lasting campaign when he had friends telling him about "no name, no fame," not knowing he was part of the project.  "I hope the students will get the opportunity to continue working on this important subject and expanding their efforts across the country."

This is not Grigg's first team to place in the national competition. USC has placed among the top three teams in five of the past six years.

“The Department of Homeland Security is always seeking ways to expand our work with communities across the country to help prevent acts of targeted violence. Invent2Prevent empowers young people to help prevent this violence using their experiences and knowledge of the issues,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien. “These students are proof that the next generation of leaders can build a more secure and prosperous nation for everyone through key tools such as connection, communication, and digital media.”

Twenty-four colleges and universities competed with Duke University taking first place and Texas Tech winning third.

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