Last year, Anderson University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter was founded with the help of Department of Communication Arts Chair Rebecca Fuller Beeler and Professional Advisor Andrea Farmer, an account director at Borshoff, a public relations agency in Indianapolis. Although the chapter is young at AU, five members recently decided to take on the challenge of the Bateman Case Study Competition, the most prestigious national-level competition offered by the international society for public relations students.
The Bateman Case Study Competition brings together members of the local PRSSA chapter to develop a public relations plan over several months. The competition requires students, working in teams of four or five, to develop and implement a complete public relations plan for a specific issue or organization. The teams conduct their own research, write out measurable goals, plan strategies and tactics, and put their plan into action during the month of February.
This year, the theme of the competition is bullying, so the AU team must partner with a local organization to raise awareness about the issue and educate about its prevention. After they have completed these actions, they must submit a breakdown of their project in written form to be judged by a national panel of PR professionals.
Anderson University’s inaugural team for the Bateman Competition consists of three PRSSA chapter officers: President Kimberly Werline, Vice President Eva Christine McKnight, and Treasurer Haley Burger. In addition, Lydia Hawley and Allison Kohl, both public relations students, are on the team. These AU students have experience in developing the plan for this project, as the introductory class for the major requires them to create a PR proposal for a local organization. However, they are taking what they have learned to the next level by executing their plan.
“It is our first year participating in this competition, so it is still trial and error for us,” said Werline. “But it is also a very good résumé builder. This competition is very well known in the public relations field, and I am excited to have the chance to be a part.”
"I'm really excited about the hands-on experience that the Bateman Competition is going to give me,” added Hawley, a junior who also carries a dance minor. “It's a great opportunity to apply everything we talk about in the classroom to a real life situation."
Fuller Beeler, who has exposed these students to the skills they have today, is proud of their accomplishments.
“This is our first year competing and only our second year as a chapter, so the students have already impressed me with their initiative and commitment to this project,” said Fuller Beeler. “Beyond simply gaining the experience, my goals for the students are that they learn from each other and from other chapters, that they have fun working together, and that they realize just how capable they are of successfully completing this kind of project.”
The team has started working on their ideas for the project. Their findings are due to the PRSSA national office for judging in March. The judges will evaluate the quality of every team’s plan and select three finalists to present their projects. After judging for the presentation stage is complete, they will award a top prize of $2,500 to one of those teams. Although the AU chapter is competing with hundreds of other entries, that prize is not far from Werline’s mind.
“It would definitely be a good payoff,” said Werline, with a smile.
— Cody Poor is a senior from Middletown, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Poor is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.