Do you remember summer camp as a kid? Instantly bonding with your bunkmates, late nights spent gossiping by the campfire and jam-packed days full of fun in the sun. Twenty-some years later, I just got back from a trip that was very similar to that childhood summer camp experience, all thanks to PRSSA.
In spring of 2012, I entered a mini-case study competition through PRSSA along with three other teammates from the Beth Wood Chapter. The client was Contiki Vacations, a guided tour company geared towards 18-35 year olds. Contiki features tours across the world, but we were to focus on promoting their European vacation packages to IU students. The team that won first place was promised a free vacation. Instantly I was sold. I knew that the competition would be a great, hands-on experience but also the chance to win a free vacation? Even better!
Teammates (from left) Christine Spasoff, Jillian Miers, Kaleigh Bacher and Meredith Reffner take a break from their campaign event on April 25, 2012.
After three months of hard work, I was so excited with the results from our campaign. We hosted an awesome event on campus, tweeted eight times a day for two months using the hashtag #contikiprssa and learned so much about creating a PR campaign from scratch.
I was studying abroad in London when I found out that our team won first place. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe that all of our hard work was being rewarded. It was a great feeling. But then I became even more excited about the trip.
A few weeks ago and more than a year after our team won, I embarked on my trip called LA to the Bay. We started in Los Angeles, spent a couple days in San Diego, made a stop in Scottsdale and Sedona, camped at the Grand Canyon, spent a few days in Las Vegas, stayed at a resort in Bass Lake and ended the trip in San Francisco.
It was the trip of a lifetime! While I was exhausted almost the entire time – and arguably needed a vacation after my vacation – I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Most of my tour-mates were from abroad – I made friends from Australia, New Zealand, England and even Italy. Although the trip was domestic for me, I learned so much about my friends’ cultures and it was fun to experience the West Coast through their eyes. I also made some lifelong friends along the way and now have couches to crash on in Australia and New Zealand.
One of my absolute favorite parts of the trip was a Jeep tour of Sedona. We went off-roading to see the gorgeous red rock formations there and it was breathtaking! I’ve never seen anything like it before. Our tour guide was a character – a true cowboy. Sedona had never been on my radar before but I will definitely be visiting again.
Contiki tour-mates pose in Sedona after their Jeep tour.
Thanks to PRSSA National and the Contiki team for making this trip a possibility. Case study competitions are a perfect way to get real-life experience building a public relations campaign for an actual client. There are multiple small case studies that occur throughout the year and one large competition called the Bateman Case Study Competition. Check the Chapter’s weekly newsletter for more information about these opportunities.
Some of my best friends from the trip on a day trip to Yosemite.
To learn more about the other amazing trips Contiki offers, visit their website.