Re-innovating public relations, social media, marketing, and promotions behind the fifth largest tennis tournament in the world is just another class assignment for the 22 public relations students in Dr. Maria Scott’s campaigns class.

The students are working in teams to develop every element of a public relations campaign for the 2017 Miami Open, presented by Itau. The campaign will be presented to the client in May and implemented next year. For many of the seniors, this is exactly the kind of work they hope to be doing upon graduation.

But this is not the typical class. Dr. Scott isn’t lecturing, more like holding weekly staff meetings and setting deadlines. The class is divided into teams, compelling students to work closely together. The teams share a common goal of developing an innovative way to unite tennis fans, the social crowd, and guests from around the world to have a wonderful experience at the Miami Open.

“When I first came to Miami I never knew about the Miami Open,” says senior Jordan Ben-Haim. “But after working through this project I see the benefit in engaging the community and making the tournament a celebration of tennis and Miami.”

The students are clear on their objectives of breaking away from the otherwise safe and unchanging public relations approach the Miami Open has taken in the past. Sam Henderson, director of media and public relations for the Miami Open, is turning to the students “to try and get new, fresh, and young ideas” and he realizes there is “no better place to get that than college students.”

Students toured the Miami Open facilities before it opened to the public for the 2016 tournament, now underway, giving them the inside view on everything from press facilities and social media strategies, to locations to create crowd interactions and athlete engagement. During the tournament, which runs through April 4 at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, a few students are working in communications to really get a feel for how things work and further help create a campaign that is a success.

“Every time we create a campaign for a client, we want it to be win-win where our students get to see what it’s like to work to meet the client’s needs and still be able develop their ideas and ask questions,” said Dr. Scott. “It’s equally important to me when I select the clients for these projects that they intend to use the work we create and that they see the value in having our students create something that they may never have considered.”

As current residents of Miami, the students see the potential that the tournament has to offer to a city they call home, which is why they are working to prove that they are ready for the 2017 Miami Open and the real world.

Students working on this campaign are enrolled in STC 436, Public Relations Campaign.