Turning Theory into Practice

By Andrew Garoppo '24, August 2, 2022
Two IC students make it to finals of national media competition.

When Linnea Carchedi ’23 and Holden Shatouhy ’23 made it all the way to the finals in the Washington Media Scholars Media Plan Case Competition, they must have thought about how every day across the world, passionate college students in classrooms have creative and ingenious ideas. These students and their ideas may receive acknowledgment from their professors and even praise from their peers, but very few get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital and have their talent, hard work, and unique vision validated by top industry leaders in positions they hope to one day hold.   

Carchedi and Shatouhy are both Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) majors at Ithaca College. When considering her college plans, Carchedi was impressed by the Roy H. Park School of Communications for its prominent reputation in media and was drawn to IMC because, according to Carchedi, “IMC combines data, math, and analysis with creativity.”  

Shatouhy started out at IC as an exploratory student.  

“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” he said. “I looked at IMC and it had the creative aspect, the design aspect, and you even get to take business school classes, so I gave it a shot.”   

Both students took advertising with Department of Strategic Communication Chair and Professor Scott Hamula, who encouraged them to put their skills to the test and compete in the Washington Media Scholars Media Plan Case Competition. The competition invites teams of two people to use real data to create a media strategy for a hypothetical media company. After a double-blind review of submissions in the qualifying round of the contest against college students from across the country, the top 26 teams are chosen to contend in the semifinals where the media plan is reviewed by an expert panel of judges.  


Holden Shatouhy ’23. (Photo submitted)

Only six teams are then selected to advance to compete over the summer in Washington, D.C., for the National Excellence in Media Award and $18,500 in scholarships. The final teams earn an all-expenses-paid trip, including a week of networking, touring, and training with high-ranking professionals from major media organizations. At the end of the week, Carchedi and Shatouhy presented their plan to the media executives.  

Shatouhy described his and Carchedi’s first try at competing.  

“In January 2021 we competed and made it to the semifinals,” he said. “We were eliminated but both of us agreed we were definitely going to try again and make it to D.C. in 2022. This year we competed again and actually made it through all the rounds to the finals!”   


Associate professor Lisa Farman has helped previous students make it to the finals and was Carchedi and Shatouhy’s teacher for a media planning class. This course focuses not just on the message you are attempting to deliver but also when and where are the right places and times to reach your target audience. Farman worked with Carchedi and Shatouhy both in and out of class to reinforce the concepts they went over and apply them. Farman was with them this summer in D.C. for the competition to help and was undeniably proud of her students.  

“One of my favorite things is working with students on things like this competition,” said Farman. “Ithaca College makes it every year and usually does very well because our students are noticeably confident and not scared. It is a tough competition that turns theory into practice, but it’s really rewarding and fun to see the students’ growth. Linnea and Holden analyzed lots and lots of data and were able to effectively utilize it to produce an effective strategy that they very successfully articulated. This really speaks to their resilience and tenacity.”   


Linnea Carchedi ’23. (Photo submitted)

Carchedi and Shatouhy had to help a made-up media organization launch a hypothetical magazine in a fictional coastal New England town. The two were provided with several large Excel spreadsheets containing diverse types of data on the town’s population and had to both creatively and strategically plan where, when, and what type of medium would be the best able to reach the target audience.  

“We had to make a big plan book where we needed to justify all our data, our media choices, and our budget and come up with fun names for different demographic groups while also figuring out what would get them to subscribe,” said Carchedi. “It was textbook Farman media planning class kind of stuff.” 

Shatouhy added that, “The first year I didn’t know any media planning terms at all but after taking media planning, we really understood what we were doing so I felt more prepared.”  

The week leading up to the finals was a rare and exciting tour into the many different media-related positions at some of the world's biggest companies such as Google, Fox, Politico, National Media, The Washington Post, Roku, G.M.M.B, and Grey Television. The finalists shadowed executives at each of the companies. Carchedi was humbled but inspired by her experience.  

“One big takeaway for me was the variety of positions in media,” she said. “It was exciting to talk to people at places like National Media and G.M.M.B who have worked on successful presidential campaigns and have actually met the president.”  

Shatouhy was excited as well.  

“High-ranking people in the industry for 20, 30, 40 years were all ecstatic to meet us and literally say ‘give me a call when you get out of college, we’ll find a job for you!’” he said. “They were thrilled to meet all 12 of us. They talked about how they do what they do to reach people, and all the different career options in the field to pick from. A former student who made it to the finals went on to work for Politico.”  

At the end of each day, Carchedi and Shatouhy practiced their presentation and did so again early Thursday morning with Farman before the duo was due to present. They had to deliver their analysis to six judges from the various media companies they visited over the past week.  

“It’s nerve-racking presenting for someone who works high up at for NBC or Roku. It was intense but it was worth it.” said Carchedi.  

Shatouhy was the “target audience guy” who identified the “community indulgers” demographic (retired/disposable income/community and leisure oriented) as the magazine’s most likely potential subscribers as well as where to advertise to effectively reach them. Carchedi, among other things, came up with a strategic equation for the medium choices, accounting for cost of media exposure and likely demographic exposure that a M.N.N.B executive who had worked on former president Obama’s campaign said he would like to take and use.  

“I was like wow...thank you,” Carchedi said.  

When asked about advice for any ambitious students hoping to compete in future Washington Media Scholars Media Plan Case Competitions: “Just do it,” said Shatouhy. “The first year we tried it didn’t go as planned but we came back stronger, got to the finals, made a bunch of wonderful job connections, and got $1,000 each. Scott and Lisa are right around the corner to help you out.”  

Carchedi also had some good advice.  

“Because we go every year, they know IC so you already have a foot in the door,” she said. “Take advantage of the opportunities you only can get while in school. What other time will you have a chance to do something like this? This competition was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I will always remember.”