PR students get Creative for a Cause

Two second-year PR and Strategic Communications students made Durham College (DC) proud at Craft Public Relations’ Creative for a Cause event in March.

The pair of Gaia Ninzatti and Sameeksha Dandriyal was one of only six teams to qualify for the competition, where they utilized the skills and knowledge they had gained in the classroom. With only 24 hours to work with, they were tasked with designing and pitching a communications plan for First Book Canada, a non-profit organization that supplies books and educational resources to children in need. Limited to a budget of $25,000, the objective of the plan was to increase First Book’s profile and encourage more donations, while also having the potential to be implemented across Canada.

The team from DC met the challenge head-on and crafted a plan that would meet all of First Book’s criteria while incorporating accessibility and fostering a love of reading in students and adults alike.

“My biggest fear was to have our idea be the same as someone else’s, but that didn’t happen. We had a completely different and unique angle, which we’re really proud of,” said Gaia.

They proposed an event that could be held at any school board across the country. On a given day, every student would be invited to dress up as their favorite character from the first book they remember. Teachers could get in on the fun, and everyone could compare costumes and share passages from their favorite books. To promote it nationally, they’d use the social media hashtag “first book memory,” and authors could share their own costumes, favorite passages and reading memories.

A key element of their plan was accessibility. A partnership with CNIB Beyond Print would allow a child with a learning disability to submit their favorite book for free conversion into braille, large text or another accessible format.

They also prioritized diversity by proposing a website where supporters who donate could select a cause they identify with so First Book’s educators could select a book from that community and make it available.

After working through the night, they presented their plan to Craft and First Book. Their proposal and presentation received rave reviews, and though it wasn’t ultimately chosen as the winner, they made the most of their opportunity.

“It really boosted our confidence and made us feel like we’re ready to enter the PR world right now,” said Sameeksha.

In fact, they’re about to do just that. With the winter semester winding down, the friends and collaborators will both complete their field placement at Global Public Affairs in Toronto.

They’ve been working together closely since the start of their program two years ago. Bonded by their shared status as international students, they’ve pushed and supported each other throughout their time at DC.

“We’ve stuck together as a team,” said Sameeksha. “We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses pretty well. Both of us have very different interests when it comes to PR and our working styles are also different.”

“That’s why we work so great together,” added Gaia. “What she doesn’t like, I like, and what I don’t like she likes.”

With their passion and talent, this pair of soon-to-be DC graduates will lead the way in the PR world for years to come.