Texas Tech University

CreateAthon: the 24-hour creative marathon

James D. Loss

May 11, 2022

CreateAthon: the 24-hour creative marathon

The College of Media & Communication takes great care to ensure students have numerous opportunities to engage in practical learning, which helps bolster the information provided in lecture settings. Whether a student desires to be a journalist, strategic communicator, or photographer, they can place themselves in a real-world environment and acquire invaluable experience.

Most recently, CoMC and the Department of Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management sponsored the first-ever CreateAthon at Texas Tech.

CreateAthon is a 24-hour creative marathon during which either professionals or university students provide creative marketing and communications services to nonprofit organizations on a pro bono basis. Students were divided into three teams—one for each client—and mentored throughout the consultation and creation process by faculty and staff.

Debbie Davis, Ed.D., assistant professor of practice and assistant dean of undergraduate affairs, helped coordinate the event and mentor students along the marathon.

Debbie Davis, Ed.D.“CreateAthon was a tremendous opportunity for both our students and our community,” Davis said. “The students were able to learn more about the role of nonprofits and the important issues they address while putting their communication skills to work in a real-world environment.”

The three clients available for students this year were YWCA, Family Promise of Lubbock, and West Texas ALS Support Group. For each client, students were able to conceptualize and then create projects ranging from fundraising campaigns to digital marketing programs and anywhere in between. All the while, they were helping real-world clients in their immediate community.

Sabrina Ritchie, a public relations & strategic communication management major from Amarillo, Texas, was one of the many students involved in CreateAthon. She also helped implement the event itself. Without the normal PR Showdown—similar event for students—taking place this semester, Ritchie and the RaiderComm team were asked to take on CreateAthon and make it happen.

“On this account team I was in the position to oversee project management,” Ritchie said. “I spoke with numerous potential nonprofits that would participate, helped with the overall correspondence, and planned and booked some of the food that would be present at the event.”

Essentially, Ritchie gained real-world experience while helping to plan an event that would provide real-world experience to students like herself. “This is an incredible experience that allows students to put their communication skills into practice and simultaneously serve the community,” Ritchie said. “Nonprofit work is hard, so to get an inside look of what that is like before actually entering into one's professional career can help a lot.”

CreateAthon Team Group Photo

The CreateAthon event is part of a national program that encourages marketing and communications professionals and students to provide pro bono services to nonprofit organizations without the means to hire marketing consultants. In other words, CoMC students provided much needed assistance to community leaders looking to make a difference, but who often struggle to find the resources.

“I wasn't present when this took place, but one of the representatives for the nonprofit West Texas ALS Support Group got emotional from the pitch that her respective team gave her,” Ritchie said.

Sometimes, it's about more than experience.

CreateAthon was founded by Riggs Partners, a marketing consultancy in Columbia, South Carolina. The program has grown from a single market event into a nonprofit organization that has recruited more than 100 agencies, universities, professional clubs, and corporate marketing teams throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. The groups have all held 24-hour CreateAthon events in their respective markets, benefiting more than 1,300 nonprofits and delivering more than $24 million in estimated pro bono marketing services.

CoMC extends its gratitude to all the nonprofits for their participation, and a big congratulations to all the students who produced standout materials.