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MSJ student wins awards, gains valuable experience working with WVU EcoCAR3 team

Chelsea Betts, a graduate student in the College’s Master of Science Journalism (MSJ) program is a one-woman media relations team for WVU’s role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s EcoCAR 3 competition. EcoCAR 3 is the Energy Department’s latest advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) series and is challenging 16 North Chelsea BettsAmerican university teams to redesign a Chevrolet Camaro to reduce its environmental impact, while maintaining the muscle and performance expected from this iconic American car. 

Earlier this month, Betts (BSJ, 2014) earned several accolades for her communications efforts at this year’s EcoCAR 3 awards ceremony in Seattle, Washington. As communications manager for the multidisciplinary team, Betts returned to campus with three awards: first place for best sponsor collaboration video, second place for best outreach presentation, and third place for best overall team communications.

Read a Q&A with Betts below.

Christa Currey: Why did you join WVU’s EcoCAR 3 team?
Chelsea Betts: I think that sustainability and being environmentally friendly is important and being a part of a team that is building a hybrid electric Camaro that will perform well, be safe and maintain its iconic look is exciting to me.

CC: What are your duties as the team’s communications manager?
CB: I’m in charge of managing all social media accounts and maintaining our website. Also, the team is given a set of project deliverables to complete each year [as part of the competition]. As the team’s communications manager, I have my own set of deliverables that include a communications plan, a media relations report and a sponsor collaboration video. We also are required to get eight media hits during the year, coordinate and execute eight outreach events and write eight blog posts.

CC: What do you like best about your position?
CB: Media relations! I enjoy writing press releases and getting reporters to come to our events. We received 17 media hits this year, so that was pretty exciting!

CC: What is your time commitment to the team?
CB: Every day I’m doing something for the team. I have our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts on my phone, and I feel like I use those more than I do my personal accounts. When you handle social media for an organization, it’s difficult to step away from it.

CC: What lessons have you learned from this experience?
CB: One of the biggest lessons that I learned, as far as event planning, is to always have a back-up location. It rained at every single one of our outreach events this year. Also, I learned a lot about the engineering and automotive industries. When I started as communications manager, I was nervous about not knowing all the terminology. Now I’m comfortable talking in public about hybrid electric vehicles.

CC: How did the WVU Reed College of Media prepare you to be a communications manager?
CB: What I like about the College of Media is that the classes are very project based. A lot of what I learned could apply to real-life situations. In my [undergraduate] capstone class, we designed logos and campaign materials and did market research for a real client. I feel like having that experience helped me because I’m doing some of those things for the EcoCAR team.

Read more about the EcoCar 3 competition and all the awards for year one online.