by Shannen Laur
This time last year, I was nearing the end to one of the most valuable projects I have completed in my entire college career. It was PRSSA’s National Bateman Case Study Competition, and it was a whirlwind of a learning experience. Working with four other faculty-selected students, we researched, implemented and evaluated a real-world public relations campaign with the objective of spreading awareness about childhood bullying.
This experience, which was less than three months long, was by far the most important learning experience I had in my up-and-coming PR career because I was actually able to implement real-world public relations tactics. Of course, everything I have learned in the classroom has been of the utmost importance to me, but I was able to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to a real campaign.
The Bateman Competition taught me more than I had expected. Through three months of stress, late nights and team bonding, the Kent State Blue Team successfully completed its case book and campaign, which my teammates and I named Bullies 2 Buddies. In January, we spent hours researching, followed by a month of implementation in February. During February, we partnered with the local middle school in Kent, Stanton Middle School, and actually got to work with seventh graders to implement our tactics. To wrap up the campaign, we evaluated our work in March and submitted it to PRSSA for judging.
Although our team did not place in the competition, all of the learning experiences my teammates and I shared count as personal victories. We became more than just a team; we became friends who will always be able to reflect on our first real-world experience together. From a PR standpoint, what I learned is invaluable. I learned how critical research is to the success of a campaign. I had created case studies in classes previously but this was different. Without solid, thorough research, the campaign will not be a success. I also learned not only how interesting (and at times intimidating) it is to work with middle schoolers, but also how much planning goes into creating tactics. Since the Bullies 2 Buddies campaign was actually implemented, we were able to see our tactics in action. We also had to learn to cope when they did not go exactly as planned, or what to do when a bunch of twelve-year-olds are not as cooperative as hoped.
Overall, this was the one of the most rewarding experiences I have had the pleasure of participating in. My advice to future Bateman team members is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was extremely stressful when we were in the process, but when we got to see the case book printed, it was finally time to take a deep breath and realize why it was all worth it.