Y Digital, a former lab for some BYU public relations students, ranked first in the United States and 18th globally in the Global Online Marketing Academic Challenge. This is the first time that BYU has participated in the competition and it is the highest that a team from the United States has placed in the history of the competition.
The competition only allows certified teachers to submit a team from their school for review. This vetting process means that only the best graduate and undergraduate students in the world can compete. The results both surprised and validated the team.
“I’m so proud of our whole team together. No American team ever set that high so it’s just like, kinda like making me speechless almost like, oh my god, how did we do that? Like I know how we did it, but it’s so cool, ”said Audrey Blakely, digital meeting consultant on the team.
The victory also solidified a goal former Y Digital chief Adam Durfee had for BYU’s public relations program.
“For us, this is the culmination of several years of work. I ran Y Digital for four years with the idea, “Can we make sure that the students in this pipeline learn, train and become good enough that not only are we recognized for being great in the state?” from Utah, or great in local markets or even very good in the United States, but can we create a world-class program that produces world-class students? ‘ ”Said Durfee.
The students worked with a real client to create a digital marketing campaign. Y Digital worked with Dowdle Folk Art to improve the company’s Google Ads to promote its puzzles. Within a month, they created Google Ads that cost less and increase their income. The students also created a set of slides to present to the international judges of the competition.
A team of 10 students worked on the campaign with Durfee as faculty mentor and student Jessica Curtis as account manager. During the spring semester, students researched the ads before they launched, continuously improved the campaign as it unfolded, and revised their final presentation to the judges repeatedly to make it perfect.
“We would spend hours, stay late after the staff meeting,” Curtis said. “Countless times we have had to go back and rework.”
The validation of the victory made the work worth it.
“Getting those results back has certainly been a huge gain,” said team member Ashlyn Thompson.
The victory was won with mixed emotions. Y Digital was disbanded this summer to launch the new PR Intelligence Lab. The goal of the new lab is to involve all students in the work previously produced by Y Digital, rather than the 32 students who were accepted into the previous lab. But for students who worked in Y Digital, which had a high reputation with companies and maintained 100% placement after graduation, it’s hard to know that the same program won’t be active. over the coming year.
“I think bittersweet is a great way to put it,” Blakely said.
Durfee said he was incredibly proud of the work his students have produced. Although saddened that Y Digital no longer exists, he is grateful for the legacy of his work and the opportunities he has provided to his students.
“Never in my life have I been more proud of my work than seeing these students succeed. I have never felt more proud than seeing these students win awards, ”he said.
Readers can find the results of the 2021 competition on the Global Online Marketing Academic Challenge website, with the BYU team under CID number 616-763-8868.