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PR Students Gain Real-World Experience in National Bateman Case Study Competition

Posted Feb. 28, 2014

By Kelli Fitzpatrick

Bateman. For public relations students, that single word represents months of extensive research, creativity, active campaigning and a bit of apprehension. For PR professionals nationwide, it means a real-world experience that, on a resume, enhances a student’s employability.  Bateman Team

The Bateman Case Study Competition is a national contest hosted by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Kent State has competed in this national competition since 2007. In 2013, a Kent State team ranked second in the nation – topping 66 college teams from across the country – in the Bateman Competition.

Although the Bateman Competition is a three -credit spring semester class, the process actually began at the start of the academic year. 

Early in the fall 2013 semester, the PR faculty at JMC invited 10 PR majors to participate in this year’s competition. Students apply classroom education and internship experiences to creating and implementing a public relations campaign. The junior and senior students are hard at work representing this semester’s client, Popmoney, a personal payment service of Fiserv, Inc.

Students began research in the fall and prepared their campaigns for the end of January. They carried out their plans throughout February, and will evaluate the results of their work in March.

Each Bateman Competition team must submit a casebook to PRSSA by March 28. Teams compile a client overview, research findings, goals and objectives, strategies and tactics, campaign theme, evaluation, key messages and pictures of their work. Evaluation includes the students’ reviewing and analyzing the effectiveness of their campaigns in February.

“The evaluation is really important because that’s what they need to do once they get into the real world,” says Tim Roberts, JMC professor and Bateman Competition adviser. “The implementation part is where you have to think on your feet.”

The Bateman students are divided into Blue and Gold teams. The Blue team includes Sydney Baltrusaitis, Morgan Jupina, Michael Lopick, Helen Steward and Samantha Tuly. The Gold team includes Meghan Caprez, Marcus Donaldson, Hannah Hamner, Julie Myers and Abby Prulhiere. Each team aims to raise awareness and usage of Popmoney among adults ages 18 to 24.

The Bateman Blue team’s campaign centers on a lollipop theme. The students passed out candy bags on Valentine’s Day and created large lollipop displays to raise awareness of Popmoney. They also walked around campus to hand out fliers and talk with students about their client.

“It gives that advantage of face-to-face communication,” says junior Morgan Jupina.  “We’re there to answer the questions they have, and it generates more interest in the company.”

Each team has a budget of $300 and $1,000 for printed materials. The ambitious timeline and strict deadlines create a time-consuming experience, which Jupina says has been the students’ biggest challenge.

“It’s a full-time job,” Jupina says. “It’s a lot of work, but that’s okay, because once this casebook is put together, we’re going to be so proud of it.”

The Bateman Gold team’s campaign focuses on the concept “P(L)AY UP.”

“It’s a play on words, encouraging students to get active and ‘play up’ and to ‘pay up’ by using Popmoney,” says senior Meghan Caprez. “Our whole campaign is focused on being active, whether it’s in sports or in learning about Popmoney.”

The Gold Team has handed out lollipops to students around Kent, leading them to taking an online survey and learn more about the client. Team members have also hosted activities and booths at the Kent State Ice Arena and basketball games.

Roberts says the strict deadlines for each stage of planning and the actual implementation of the campaign plan give students experiences they can’t find in any other class. Courses such as PR Case Studies and PR Campaigns allow students to create campaign plans, but Bateman is the only class that lets students implement them.

“I think they get a real-world feel of what a campaign is really like,” Roberts says. “It’s beyond the classroom. 

They’re actually talking to the public, going out and implementing a tactic.”
The Bateman Competition also helps prepare students for careers in public relations. Erin Osini, ’11 public relations graduate, participated in the competition in 2010.

“Bateman provided a very fast-paced learning environment and gave me the opportunity to work with a team, something I experience on a daily work basis,” says Orsini, now an account executive at Marcus Thomas LLC. “I am grateful for being a part of the competition and having the opportunity to get a true taste of the PR world.”

Students will wrap up campaign implementation Feb. 28 and begin evaluating and completing their casebooks in March. Following the March 28 deadline, a panel of PRSSA members and professionals will choose three finalist teams from the nationwide competition to present their findings to Popmoney in May.

“It doesn’t even matter if we place, because it’s been a learning experience,” Jupina says. “You learn by doing. Ultimately, this helps us solidify everything we learned in the classroom and use it to our advantage for a real company someday.”

For more information about PRSSA and the Bateman Competition, visit http://www.prssa.org/scholarships_competitions/bateman/.

Caption:  Members of the Bateman Gold Team include (from left): Meghan Caprez, Abby Prulhiere, Marcus Donaldson, Hannah Hamner, Julie Meyers. Members of the Bateman Blue Team include (from left): Sydney Baltrusaitis, Samantha Tuly, Michael Lopick, Morgan Jupina, Helen Steward.

Photos by David LaBelle