Graduate Students Present ‘Safe Driving’ Campaigns at Eastern Communication Association Annual Meeting

HPU High Point University
HPU High Point University

Pictured from left to right in the top row are Melissa Plunkett, Brandon Roach, Brandon Rivera, Brent Starling, Karole Johnson and Erica Gibson. On the front row, pictured are Steffi Cook and Matt Ritter.

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 3, 2013 – Several graduate students studying strategic communication in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication at High Point University recently presented research and campaign designs at the annual meeting of the Eastern Communication Association in Pittsburgh.

The students worked in small teams or individually to develop and design videos, radio public service announcements, posters and brochures aimed at decreasing adolescents’ distracted driving behaviors. The five teams of graduate students presented their multi-media twists on the “don’t text and drive” message in a variety of ways, including:

• Brent Starling, Melissa Plunkett, and Steffi Cook’s campaign, “2 seconds can mean a lifetime,” highlighted the consequences of looking down for two seconds, and asked, “How will you tell her friend that you only looked down for two seconds?”

• Matt Ritter, Brandon Roach, and Erica Gibson’s campaign, “Grab life by the wheel,” emphasized that passengers need to take responsibility for their safety and encourage the drivers to eliminate distractions. One poster sends this message, “Is she texting? Be the designated texter before it’s too late. Being the passenger doesn’t mean you’re powerless – Grab life by the wheel.”

• Karole Johnson, Haley Randazzo, and Jacqueline Brannon’s campaign, “Take the phone, save a life,” showed drivers doing a lot of dangerous things – drinking alcohol while driving, driving with a blindfold – and asked the viewer, “You wouldn’t let your friends do this, why would you let them text and drive?”

• Brandon Rivera’s campaign, “Control your fate, the call can wait” was aimed at high school students and promoted a message that teens are in control of their actions. His videos and posters featured actual students from the high school he worked with talking about what happened when they were distracted while driving.

• Joel Gerber’s campaign, “2 much 2 lose” showed high school students a variety of consequences from distracted driving – car repair bills, killing someone, and hurting yourself and others. His videos featured a high school student showing pictures of the injuries from his car accident.

In addition to the safe driving campaigns, Brent Starling and Brandon Rivera presented individual research projects.

Rivera presented his capstone project, “Using Facebook groups to change driving attitudes and behaviors among teenagers.” This research project showed how Facebook groups could help in campaign design.

Rivera’s project, “It’s all about me: Narcissism, compliance gaining strategies, and Greek affiliation,” examined whether students in Greek affiliated organizations had higher levels of narcissism and if narcissism or Greek affiliation were associated with type of compliance-gaining techniques.

ECA is a regional academic conference focused on research in a variety of areas, including health communication, organizational communication and media studies. The ECA was initially established in 1910 and continues as the oldest professional communication association in the United States.

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