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Mass Communication students win national PR competition

Loyola press release - May 15, 2009

Five Loyola University New Orleans public relations students were awarded first-place honors Friday in the 2009 Bateman Case Study Competition. The annual competition, organized by the Public Relations Student Society of America, asks teams from universities to tackle a full-scale public relations campaign for a nonprofit organization. This year, students worked with the Consumer Bankers Association to raise college awareness among public school students.

Janine Sheedy, Heather Miranne, Sarah Mackota, Ashley Sutton and Vicki Voelker comprise Loyola’s Bateman Team from the School of Mass Communication in the College of Social Sciences. Their campaign, “The Bling Starts Here,” focused on showing high school students the correlation between attending college and maximizing earning potential. The team used youthful language and images to reach students.

The team crafted a successful community and media awareness campaign, which included workshops in New Orleans area public schools, staffed by team members and writing professor Lisa Martin, college funding information sessions for parents at local large employers and a day of tours and mentoring for high school students on Loyola’s campus. The team garnered much media coverage, including a coveted interview on WWL-TV’s “Eyewitness Morning News,” the highest-rated local morning show in the United States, and segments on ABC26 News and NOLA38.

Teams from Loyola, the University of Maryland and Michigan State University were chosen from 77 entries to present their campaigns in person before judges in Washington, D.C. A panel made up of representatives of the CBA and the Public Relations Society of America selected Loyola's campaign for first-place honors and awarded MSU and UM second and third, respectively.

The Loyola University Bateman Team has a history of high honors in this competition, having placed first nationally in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2008 and second in 2001, 2004 and 2006. Public Relations Professor J. Cathy Rogers, Ph.D., supervises the public relations sequence and advises the Bateman competitors.

“This competition charge was extremely timely for New Orleans as it experiences changes and improvements in the public school system. For the team to be a national finalist is great recognition for the work they did to inspire hope in a group of eighth and ninth graders,” Rogers said. “The fact that these students are national finalists pales in comparison to the children’s lives that they touched—some of whom actually said they had never given life after high school a thought until meeting this team.”

“I am so proud of this team and how hard they worked. They were so thorough and so polished today. They showed the judges they really knew their target audience, and the effort the students put into reaching the audience impressed the judges.”

PRSSA’s mission is to “serve our members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities; To serve the public relations profession by helping to develop highly qualified, well-prepared professionals.”

For more information on Loyola’s Bateman Team, contact Rogers at crogers@loyno.edu.