Students' class project comes to life on FOX Sports during Women's World Cup

June 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A public service announcement conceived as part of a Penn State class will debut this month and be seen by millions of viewers watching FOX, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 during the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament and other programming.

As part of a partnership with FOX Sports University, students in a 400-level public relations course taught by Renea Nichols, an assistant teaching professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, were part of a semester-long challenge to produce a PSA about FOX Sports Supports’ partner Girls Inc. that would encourage FOX Sports fans and viewers to learn more about the organization’s mission. Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold, through direct service and advocacy.

Three- and four-member teams of students formed their own agencies and conducted research for the PSA — crafting campaigns that integrated a variety of potential assets, including broadcasts, digital, event activation, social media and more. They worked with FOX Sports officials throughout the spring semester during in-person and online meetings leading up to an end-of-the-semester pitch on the University Park campus.

“FOX Sports University allows our students to showcase their skills they have been building for the last four years. The challenge is real, which gives the experience the perfect amount of stress and excitement," Nichols said. "The FOX team is always supportive, yet direct, when evaluating the students' work, which helps them understand that not all of your efforts will be on target. Although not all of the teams could bring home the ‘W,’ they all scored big. I am proud of them."

'Show Her She Can' Public Service Announcement

FOX Sports Supports has partnered with Girls Inc. in its mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. To encourage viewers to learn more about the organization's mission, students in a public relations course at Penn State created the concept for this public service announcement during the spring 2019 semester as part of a partnership with the FOX Sports University program.

The winning team of three students — seniors Hannah Cardona, Bailee Cooper and Joseph Pace — outlined a “Show Her She Can” campaign. Two weeks after the in-person presentation, they were notified that the network would produce their PSA to air on television for the year. The three, all of whom graduated in May, were flown to the FOX Studio Lot in Los Angeles later in the month to witness the production of their campaign.

“When Professor Nichols introduced it, she basically outlined how many opportunities could open up for us if we successfully completed the project. It was a little intimidating, because it was FOX and it was definitely a heavyweight scenario,” Cardona said. “At first you wonder if you’re prepared to handle something like that. And then, diving into it, you realize how much you’ve learned over your four years.”

The group, which had dubbed itself VORTEX PR, went through three different iterations for the PSA during the semester. They discovered their initial ideas were a bit ambitions and pricey. They focused on specific on-air talent and ways to make a 30-second PSA most efficient and impactful.

They were proud of their final product but the final on-campus pitch was not easy.

“We had rehearsed for hours before in the morning and when we got to the actual presentation, I couldn’t get this one sentence out of my mouth,” Cooper said. “It all came together, though, and then we just had to wait to find out. There were times during the semester when we could’ve thrown in the towel — there was just so much work. When we found out they were making our PSA and we were going to Los Angeles it was so exciting!”

The students were flown to L.A. the day before the shooting, then spent all of the next day in a FOX Sports studio watching some of the network’s on-air talent and a handful of child actors bring their vision to life. They were flown home the next day.

Officials from FOX Sports, who have worked with Nichols’ students in the past, were also excited about the results of this year’s partnership.

“We at FOX Sports and the team at Girls Inc. were so impressed by the thoughtful and creative ideas the students put into their projects this semester. Each group showed clear dedication to learning the motivations and goals of both FOX Sports Supports and Girls Inc. Their research shined through in their campaigns, each unique from one another," said FOX Sports University manager Cati Hance. "The winning group, VORTEX PR, presented a PSA concept that connected with and stayed true to both FOX Sports and Girls Inc.

"It was an incredible experience spending time with Bailee, Joe and Hannah in Los Angeles as they witnessed their creative concept originally presented in a classroom come to life in the FOX Sports studio.”    

The 30-second PSA, which features Curt Menefee, Jenny Taft and Eric Karros of FOX, will debut this month on FOX Sports.

Last Updated June 13, 2019