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Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communication PR Students Win Honorable Mention in National PRSSA Bateman Championship

Loyola press release - April 28, 2017

Public relations competition team receive national recognition in pursuit of “unmasking the stigma” surrounded by mental health

Strategic communication students from Loyola University New Orleans’ award-winning School of Mass of Communication won an honorable mention Monday in the nation’s premier case study competition for public relations students. Their prize-winning campaign to raise awareness and support for mental health crisis ― aptly named “Unmask the Stigma” ― both reflected the vital importance of leading a healthy life and demonstrated the spirited culture that New Orleans is infamously known for.

“What a wonderful way for our students to end the school year and to begin their careers as communication professionals,” said leading PR professional and Loyola instructor Jeffrey Ory, who advised the team. “There is no higher honor for a university public relations student than the Bateman Award, and Loyola University New Orleans was proud to receive an honorable mention.”

The Public Relations Student Society of America’s annual Bateman Case Study Competition calls on university teams to create a full-scale public relations campaign for a nonprofit organization. This year, the competition partnered with The Campaign to Change Direction with a goal of creating an open conversation about mental health in the community and placing mental health care as a daily priority.

The PRSSA 2017 Bateman Case Study Competition brought 60 entries to headquarters. Sixteen received honorable mentions in April.

Cheering on Loyola’s 2017 Bateman Team -- seniors Abby Perkins, Gabrielle Johnson, Lauren Saizan, Cierra Deleon and Jacqueline Kiesling -- was the Loyola Wolf Pack. The Bateman Championship is a longstanding winning tradition for Loyola’s esteemed School of Communications.

Participation this year marked the sixteenth time Loyola students have participated in the elite Bateman competition. Loyola has won more Bateman competitions than any other school in the country – having brought home nine national titles to the SMC trophy case and placed fifteen times among the top three.

Achieving an honorable mention demanded high-level skills and academic rigor. In preparing for the competition, the Loyola team performed significant market research, conducted over 600 surveys, led multiple focus groups, interviewed 15 executives, prepared secondary research, then identified challenges and opportunities, created a concept, messaging and visuals, and rolled out their campaign on a multimedia platform.

Highlights of the campaign included the collection of 600 pledges by community members to “unmask the stigma,” a “Dinner En Mask” with a live performance by campaign spokesperson and popular New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks, and a robust social media campaign that in only 29 days garnered 739 followers on Instagram and 671 likes on Facebook.

The hard-working team also caught judges’ attention by gaining substantial support from local media. Through out the month-long campaign, the group received a total of $9,395 in publicity value and 951,783 in total impressions. The team ran stories on various known New Orleans media channels including WDSU-TV, WWL-TV and Biz New Orleans.

“We’re overjoyed! Our students continue to show the world their talent, teamwork, hard work and success,” said Professor Sonya Duhé, Ph.D., director of Loyola’s prize-winning School of Mass Communication. “Our continued success at the PRSSA’s annual national Bateman competition demonstrates the quality of our program, faculty, staff and students.”