In the world of PR, we never seem to slow down but we always make the time to support a worthy cause. This November, Coyne’s DEI Committee proudly partnered with SuitUp, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing career readiness for all students, especially those who come from ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

We welcomed 41 student-CEOs from Parsippany High School to discover what it means to work in PR — which is no easy feat considering most of our own family members are still trying to figure that out. Since most of the student-CEOs weren’t familiar with PR, our very own Tom Coyne gave them an overview on what it means to work in this industry and the importance of having fun and being creative – two of our specialties at the agency.

The students were then given an assignment to come up with a social media campaign for Entenmann’s (#client) holiday cookie tin on TikTok and Instagram. They were divided up into four teams, each represented by a Coyne captain and coaches to help get the creativity flowing and to teach them how we might navigate this challenge in the real world. Oh, and did I mention that they only had three hours to complete the assignment before pitching their ideas to a panel of judges consisting of the most senior members of our agency, including our Presidents and CEO? Glad we didn’t put any pressure on these 15–17-year-olds.

Once they were broken into their respective groups, the CEOs got to work. The captains and coaches took their teams through a SWOT analysis, went over the brand’s target audience and competitors, and began brainstorming. Having worked at Coyne for nearly 8 years, I’ve been a part of my fair share of brainstorms and these students could have easily been thrown into any one of them. They were eager to share their ideas and even participated in a Coyne brainstorm favorite: ideas that will get you fired. Once we landed on the concept, the students came up with a budget, KPIs and practiced their pitches.

I think I can speak for all the judges when I say each team knocked it out of the park! Some of the highlights included a social media partnership with the Rockettes, a Spotify code on the package that takes you to a Michael Bublé holiday playlist, a customizable cookie tin promoted by a diverse group of micro-influencers and a Baked by Melissa integration. There was no shortage of great ideas!

As a coach of Team #1 – the customizable cookie tin (#TinsTheSeason), I can proudly say our team of CEOs took home the win with the help of our team captain and DEI Co-Chair, Dina Albanese, and Senior Account Executive, Katelyn Ortega. And as cliché as it may sound, it’s the truth when I say we all left as winners – from the Coyne captains and coaches to every student who participated.

In fact, 43% of students surveyed after the event said that they can now see themselves pursuing a career in PR, and 19% loved the budgeting portion of the campaign so much that they’re interested in a career in finance (you’re welcome, finance team). More importantly, 100% of our Coyne volunteers felt that we made a positive impact. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we look forward to interviewing them for an internship or Account Coordinator position in the coming years.