Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Communication and Media students Andrea Kurian, Andrea Assi, Nour Haddad, and Nada Abdulrahman, known collectively as ‘Next-Gen Agency’, have taken the top spot in the 2021 National Student Pitch Challenge hosted recently by the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA).
The interactive virtual competition brought together ten teams of public relations and communications students from universities across the UAE over the span of two days to respond to a communications brief set by Emirates Literature Foundation. CUD’s Next-Gen Agency triumphed over teams from Abu Dhabi University, Middlesex University Dubai, American University of the Emirates, Murdoch University, and New York University Abu Dhabi, as they competed in a live virtual pitch facing a panel of senior industry professionals.
The communication brief aimed to promote the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and required the students to increase interest in literature, target a younger audience, have the event recognized as a top cultural event in the Middle East and gain international media interest across various cultures and platforms. Ahead of the competition, participants heard from senior industry professionals on how to dissect a brief and develop a communications strategy.
CUD’s Next-Gen Agency team responded by creating a communication objective that focused on how literature inspires movies that shape pop culture and social movements. They conducted audience research on reading trends, use of leisure time, and media usage. This led to the ‘big idea’: integrating video gaming and movies onto an immersive virtual events platform. The integrated communication strategy included PR, social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, KPI’s, and budget planning.
Sabrina De Palma, Executive Director, Middle East Public Relations Association, said: “The team from CUD wowed the judges with their creative and impactful ideas and demonstrated a clear understanding on the importance of research and insights, which was well beyond their years.”
Speaking on behalf of the CUD Next-Gen Agency team, Andrea Kurian, third year Bachelors of Arts in Communication – Advertising student, said: “Taking part in the MEPRA Student Pitch Challenge was an exciting learning experience for us and as a team, we challenged ourselves to develop innovative ideas inspired by our research. The BA in Communication program at CUD has pushed us to continuously apply critical thinking and creative skills to real-life scenarios and campaigns, and with the support and guidance from our professor, Dr. Ode Amaize, we were able to propose a pitch that successfully addressed the client’s brief.”
Besides the commemorative trophy, the CUD Next-Gen Agency took home a prize value of Dh18,600 that includes free student/individual MEPRA membership for one year, complimentary tickets to attend a range of MEPRA industry events, and free MEPRA Academy training for each team member for 12 months.
Dr. Ode Amaize, Professor and Head of the Department of Communication and Media, Canadian University Dubai, offered his congratulations, saying: “I’m proud of the accomplishment of our four talented and diligent students for their skills, and their willingness to learn how to learn; I look forward to their continued success.”
The Department of Communication and Media at CUD offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree that provides students with an interdisciplinary perspective and a comprehensive understanding of traditional and contemporary digital media environments with concentrations in three areas: Public Relations, Advertisement, and Journalism.
The advertising program is accredited by the International Advertising Association (IAA), and the public relations program is the first in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to obtain the Certification in Education for Public Relations (CEPR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).