Second Story Media hosts CreateAthon, students make campaigns for local nonprofits


Lydia Jacobson

The entrance of Walker Hall displaying the CreateAthon banner and balloons.

Lydia Jacobson, Reporter

Students spent over 24 consecutive hours in Walker Hall creating campaigns for local nonprofits during an event called the CreateAthon. 

The CreateAthon originated in 1998 by an advertising agency in Columbia, South Carolina with the goal to work “around the clock” for charity. They have since extended their reach and made the event accessible for campuses.  

Second Story Media, a student-run advertising agency at App State, held the event this year for the first time since COVID-19 began. The CreateAthon began at 9 a.m. Saturday, and concluded at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Students participating in the CreateAthon worked in teams creating campaigns for their assigned clients. Each team met with the nonprofits, and received an information packet about what their client wanted.

“Everyone is on a team, and within each team there’s different skill sets to work on each campaign,” said Erin McIntyre, the special projects coordinator for Second Story Media.

McIntyre, a senior advertising student, spent around two months prior preparing for the CreateAthon by communicating with nonprofits and organizing the event’s schedule.

“I’d already met with all of the nonprofits we were working with and laid it out for each team,” McIntyre said.

Many of the participants are also members of Second Story Media, but the event was open to all students, so the teams were a blend of new and familiar faces.

“I am in a group with a total of five people, three of which I hadn’t met,” said Isabella Pinson, a senior psychology major and graphic designer for Second Story Media. “It was really cool to meet other people that are like minded.” 

Dinner being prepared for the participants involved in the 24 hour event. (Lydia Jacobson)

Between group work time, meals were provided, as well as “power hours” with activities to keep the team members energized. 

“There’s a lot of planning that goes into the activities breaks,” McIntyre said. “We did a yoga break and we’re gonna do a relay.”

Coffee and snacks were always available for the students as they worked through the hours.

“Doing all the planning with the meals and activities and making sure we’re feeling good while doing this has been helpful,” said Sydney Hammermeister, a senior advertising major. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would have been, and it’s been fun.”

The CreateAthon provides an outlet for students to gain an experience that models what it would be like working in an advertising agency by completing projects for real clients in a group. 

“We get an idea of what it’s going to be like when we’re working,” Hammermeister said. “Just working with clients, learning how they act towards the work we make, and creating deliverables.” 

It’s also an experience participants can add to their resumes.

“We’re able to use what we make for these clients and put it on our resumes and portfolios,” Hammermeister said. “We have real world work to submit instead of just theoreticals.”

The teams presented what they made for their clients at the end of the CreateAthon.

“They’ll actually get to see in a presentation what was made, like logos, or whatever they asked for,” McIntyre said

While the CreateAthon allowed students to build a campaign from the bottom up and apply skills they learn in the classroom to real projects, the ultimate goal was to create work that will benefit the local nonprofit organizations the students are working with.

“I think a lot of the nonprofits around here are stretched so thin because there’s so much to do, so it’s nice to step in and kind of take some things off of their plate,” said Ellie Garst, a senior advertising major.