Recent Iowa State University advertising graduates Avery Grundy and Kylie Kost were named the runners-up of the 2020 Washington Media Scholars Case Competition June 11.
Hosted by the Washington Media Scholars Foundation, the national competition challenges media and policy-minded students to work in pairs to present strategic media plans based on a political issues campaign using real, consumer-driven data.
Grundy and Kost made up one of six teams of finalists, which also included students from Binghamton University (the first-place team), Stephen F. Austin State University, Temple University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of South Carolina and Wichita State University. As runners-up, they each received a $3,000 scholarship from the organization.
The competition began in the fall and was completed in three rounds over the course of 10 months.
“I gained so many skills for reading data and understanding data. You take a course about it one time in the ad program … but by doing this [competition], I was able to apply [those skills] over and over,” Grundy said. “It’s been something that I’ve been asked about in almost every interview.”
Leading up to the virtual final presentations, the finalists also participated in Media Scholars Week (June 8-11) where they learned from leading professionals and firms in the public affairs and media industries. Google, GMMB, Gray TV, Hulu, iHeartMedia, Katz Media Group, Nielsen, Turner Sports and The Washington Post held professional development and networking sessions with student finalists this year.
“I went into it knowing I wanted to do media planning … but this competition really gave me that confidence boost that I understand the industry and I understand how to put together a complete plan and pitch it to industry leaders,” Kost said. “Another huge takeaway is all the connections I’ve made are so incredible. The people at the [Washington Media Scholars] Foundation just really want to help you build those connections and get a job, which is more than I ever could have asked for. It’s all around such an incredible program.”
Teams comprised of Greenlee School advertising students have made it to the final round of the competition in five of the last six years. Greenlee Professor Jay Newell advises Iowa State students participating in the competition. He connected Grundy and Kost with past Iowa State finalists and local advertising professionals from Flynn Wright and ZLR Ignition who offered advice on presenting in virtual format.
“Avery and Kylie’s hard work paid off with a fantastic final presentation, and we’re incredibly proud of them,” Newell said. “The Media Scholars program is more than a competition — it’s a career builder. It has offered Greenlee students valuable opportunities to showcase their skills and make lasting connections with industry professionals.”
Iowa State’s 2019 finalists are both working at internships they obtained through connections from the program. Elisabeth Balke, a senior in advertising, is currently working as a communications intern with National Media and the Washington Media Scholars Foundation, and Ritika Agrawal, a senior in advertising, is working as an ad sales intern at NBCUniversal Media. Previous finalists have gone on to work in advertising and communications at organizations such as Centro, Hy-Vee, Informatica and Spinutech.
Alongside the presentation of awards, the Mia Guion Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Kelsey Gallagher of Temple University in the amount of $2,500. This scholarship — which was given to the student who demonstrates preparation, participation, professionalism and presentation skills throughout Media Scholars Week — was established in memory of the late Mia Guion, a 2017 Iowa State University advertising graduate and a member of Iowa State’s 2017 first-place team in the competition.