Enacting a PR strategy for young entrepreneurs.

As a college-preparatory boarding school for boys and girls grades nine through twelve, Culver Academies offers leadership and character-based education interwoven with a challenging academic regimen. Founded in 1894 in Culver, Indiana, Culver Academies places a high standard on education – teaching leadership, character, global citizenship and timeless values. As part of their mission to provide students with the best whole-person education – mind, body and spirit – Culver Academies established The Next Launch, a business idea competition hosted by The Ron Rubin School of Entrepreneurship. In its third year, this event brought together 24 teams of high school students from across the Midwest to pitch their best business ideas to a panel of experts. Some students approach the competition with a “Shark Tank” mentality, as they have already started their company as teenagers and hoped to win The Next Launch’s top prize of $25,000 to further invest in their ideas for growth and development. Others had a hunger for making a difference in the world and were eager for feedback to take their big ideas to the next level. The entrepreneurial pitches in this competition ranged from for-profit companies to nonprofit organizations working to solve everyday problems and create a better future. The competition is judged by university-level entrepreneurship professors, business leaders and innovation experts. By giving the opportunity for feedback and collaboration with these leaders, students were able to grow their skills and think critically as they develop ideas. To promote this unique event and opportunities provided students across the Midwest, Culver Academies enlisted the help of Matchbook’s communication team for public relations support. Matchbook created media materials and garnered the interest of state-wide media, resulting in 26 media hits during the duration of the partnership. In previous years, media mentions were few and far between, so this increased coverage was a great success. Matchbook was able to advance the messaging to media, even when the nearest sizable market was 45 minutes away. Earning media coverage with Inside Indiana Business provided Culver Academies with strong presence in the business market through the state, thanks to syndication across public television and radio stations in Indiana. One of the most notable was the WIPB station in Muncie, Indiana. Through their one broadcast mention, the message of aspiring young entrepreneurs earned over four million impressions. Between radio and print mentions, The Next Launch garnered media attention before, during and after the event. More successful coverage ranged from local broadcast mentions to print stories across the Midwest, including articles in outlets such the Akron Beacon Journal. Another valuable media hit came from the Michiana Public Broadcasting Corporation (WNIT). Matchbook collaborated with WNIT’s Education Counts programming to organize a story about the Next Launch competition. WNIT’s coverage included interviews with the competition organizers and students into a five-minute segment highlighting the impact of The Next Launch. Matchbook not only coordinated event media coverage, but also managed comprehensive op-ed opportunities for The Ron Rubin School of Entrepreneurship. The published piece highlighting the importance of young entrepreneurs was picked up by The Times of Northwest Indiana, the second-largest newspaper in Indiana. All in all, the competition was a great success for Culver Academies, The Next Launch, The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur and students alike. The winning team of all female students won for their idea to create plastic adhesive lenses that can be applied directly to the original glasses lens as prescription needs change. The plastic lenses would use a silicone-based adhesive to stick and are less expensive than buying a new pair of glasses. For winning first place, they received the $25,000 prize, with the first runner-up receiving $10,000 and the second runner-up taking home $5,000. No matter the challenge, Matchbook can step up to produce results for partners big or small.