Athens locals and students at Ohio University may have seen a purple, pink and red logo with a big number five while out and about. Whether at Little Professor’s Book Center for a 10% off sale from Feb. 6 through Feb. 12, or at The Over Hang with a new signature drink dubbed the “Get Lit(erate)” during Feb. 18 and Feb. 19, the “5 or Nothing” campaign was omnipresent.
The campaign is part of a competition Scripps PRSSA, or Public Relations Student Society of America, is competing in called the Bateman Case Study Competition. This competition is PRSSA’s premier national case study for public relations students. The purpose is to provide students with the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real life.
Each chapter across the nation is assigned the same non-profit to work with and are tasked with researching, planning, implementing and evaluating a public relations campaign for a real-life client. This year’s client is the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan education nonprofit with the goal of building a national movement to create a more news-literate United States.
According to the Center for News Literacy, news literacy is designed for news consumers to develop critical thinking skills in order to judge information in terms of reliability and credibility. With so many news outlets made readily available, the News Literacy Project believes it is vital for consumers to be on the lookout of what information is factual and what is not.
Anna Hinkle, a sophomore studying marketing, is the social media coordinator for the campaign and said prior to the competition, she did not know what news literacy was.
“I first had no idea honestly what news literacy was in the first place, and I'm very glad that PRSSA decided to have this as the client this year because it's very important, especially in today's society and just the public as a whole,” she said.
Emme Bowe, a junior studying journalism, is the managing director for the campaign. Bowe said she and the team find the non-profit very interesting and view it as an asset, especially considering their intended audience.
“We did some research on college students and the surrounding city of Athens, and Athens is known to be a news desert,” Bowe said. “Accessibility issues and the digital divide make it harder to get quick access to information, which can become a problem because areas that are subject to news deserts are more susceptible to misinformation.”
Bowe said not only does the team want to focus on spreading awareness but also providing the community with the necessary tools.
“We really wanted to focus on not just spreading awareness on what news literacy is, but actually equipping the area with the tools to determine what’s credible and not,” Bowe said.
The motivation behind the campaign’s name, “5 or Nothing,” was inspired by the five factors of credibility, according to Bowe. Those factors are authenticity, source, evidence, context and reasoning. These were created by RumorGuard, which puts news stories through these criteria to see if it is credible.
Sydney Yoder, a junior studying journalism, is the event coordinator for the campaign. She said she has been enjoying working with the team and nonprofit, especially because they are learning skills that can be applied later in their professional careers.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding because we’re actually learning some skills we use in our next phase of life,” Yoder said. “It’s something different. I feel like it’s skills I didn’t really learn in class, and I’m learning more in-person and actually talking to real-life people.”
Bowe is in agreement with Yoder, looking forward to the skills the team will learn after the campaign is over.
“The practical implications of being able to actually go out to businesses, connect with people, organize, time manage with the team – I feel like in class, we learned a hypothetical how to do that, but this is kind of our first opportunity to do that with no one really telling us what to do,” Bowe said.
Hinkle said one of the organization’s main goals is for as many people as possible to sign their pledge against misinformation. The pledge is for people to promise to vet their news through the five factors of authenticity.
She stressed the importance of checking media and how it can be preventative in spreading misinformation.
“We don’t really realize how important it is or how life changing it can be,” Hinkle said. “I’m glad it’s a tool that’s being talked about.”