News @ the Beach

Public Relations Students Selected for Finals of Case Study Competition; Will Present in Atlanta on Friday

A group of five public relations majors from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are headed to Atlanta this week as one of three teams selected for the finals of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) 2014 Bateman Case Study Competition.

The Bateman competition is PRSSA’s premier national case study contest for public relations students. It is designed to give students an opportunity to apply their classroom education and internship experiences by creating and implementing a full public relations campaign.

CSULB’s Andrea Sampson, Francisco Aguirre, Brittney Arriola, Vannyda Thach and Mariana Vaca will present their “Pay Like a Champion” campaign to a panel of judges on Friday, May 9, competing for the top prize against teams from Loyola University New Orleans, which won the contest in 2013, and the University of Florida.

The three teams were chosen from more than 50 entries submitted for the competition.

“I was in complete shock when I found out we were selected as a finalist. We had worked so hard, and I knew we had a great campaign, but you never know what you are up against,” said Sampson, the CSULB team’s leader. “We are all extremely excited and proud, and we are looking forward to presenting the judges with a gold medal presentation.”

Sampson explained that all Bateman teams are assigned the same client and product and then  must research, plan, implement and evaluate a campaign around that product. This year’s client was Fiserv, a leading global provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry. The product was Popmoney, a person-to-person digital payment service that allows people to securely send, request and receive money using their existing bank account.

“When deciding on a theme for our campaign, we looked at major newsworthy events scheduled during the month of February (the campaign ran from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28),” Sampson recalled. “We decided to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the Winter Olympics. This is where our ‘Pay Like a Champion’ theme came from. We extended this idea by partnering with Special Olympics Southern California and the Athletics Department.”

Unique to the competition, CSULB’s Bateman Team created “Popgirl,” a mascot dressed in a red superhero costume, and it held an event to try to break a Guinness World Record.

“In an effort to increase awareness and usage of the Popmoney service, we created a Guinness World Record event for the most poppers popped in a single venue. We came close but did not break the current record,” she added. “We raised money for Special Olympics Southern California, produced fun and informative YouTube videos; and held several contests.”

Faculty advisor Joni Ramirez, a part-time public relations lecturer in CSULB’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, is helping the team prepare and will see the team’s final presentation to the judges.

“This year’s team worked extremely hard. They came up with a very timely, clever campaign theme tied to the Winter Olympic Games and produced content and implemented tactics that no other CSULB team has ever tried, such as recording a song, partnering with CSULB film students to produce professional quality videos and attempting a Guinness World Record,” Ramirez pointed out. “I knew the students had produced an excellent campaign, and I was very excited to learn that they will be recognized nationally for their hard work over the past six months.

“Presenting to the judges will provide them with additional experience that will be invaluable as they enter the working world,” she continued. “I couldn’t be more proud of them and how they are representing our school and our public relations program amongst some of the nation’s top universities.”

Sampson said that being a part of the Bateman team is an honor. Team members go through an application and interview process before being asked to join the team, which is a year-long  commitment. During the fall semester, the team is part of a scheduled course, then during the spring semester, work on the competition is fitted into team members’ already full course load.

“We have spent countless hours working on our campaign, and there have been several nights that we were on campus until the early morning hours,” Sampson noted. “The Bateman competition is giving us the opportunity to participate in a hands-on public relations experience that is nearly impossible to receive in a classroom setting or even working at an internship. Some of the most important things we have gained during the competition have been experience working as a team and building confidence.”

The first-place team will receive $2,500 and a trophy, the second-place team will receive $1,500 and a plaque, and the third-place team will receive $1,000 and a plaque.