The Bateman Case Study Competition update

By Merryn Ruthling

Despite COVID-19 challenges, the University of Georgia Bateman Competition Team completed their case study on March 20 after transitioning their campaign online. 

The Bateman Case Study Competition is PRSSA’s premier national competition that challenges teams of students to research, plan, implement and evaluate a public relations campaign for an actual client. This year, PRSSA partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal government’s largest statistical agency.

The members of UGA’s 2020 Bateman Competition Team included Ashleigh Burroughs, De’Andra Gaston, Sarah Hawkins, Olivia Muller, and Lottie Smalley. The project was approved by Competition Team Advisor and Grady College Professor, Dr. Karen Miller Russell. 

After completing primary and secondary research, the team had two goals in mind for their campaign: to build awareness of the 2020 U.S. Census among Athens residents and to persuade Athens residents to participate. To achieve this, they launched the #MakeAthensCount campaign that involved social media implementation and hosting two events. 

The planned events included a Create-a-Thon, scheduled for March 17 and a U.S. Census town hall meeting held in the UGA Chapel, scheduled for March 18. This is where the team ran into challenges. 

“Coronavirus had a huge impact on our campaign,” said project manager Sarah Hawkins. “We had to switch our original plans and complete the campaign on social media only. Our team was not able to work together in person, so we had to rely on group calls, texts and Facetime to get the project finished.”

After UGA made the decision to implement a two-week suspension of classes and social distancing began taking place, the team was forced to cancel the intended town hall event and arranged an IGTV Q&A with Rebecca DeHart, the CEO of Fair Count.

Additionally, the team continued to push their key messages across popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Their social media efforts resulted in earning 41 pledges to take the Census and achieving their goal of gaining 100 followers on Instagram and Twitter.

Despite the setbacks, the team adapted quickly to changes and ultimately created a successful campaign. The team members are grateful for the opportunity to work together and learn from this real-world experience. 

“One of my favorite parts was just working with everyone on the Bateman team,” senior Lottie Smalley said. “Everyone brought something different to the table, and in PR campaigns, teamwork is a big part of getting the job done. We really had to take ownership of this and hold each other accountable.”

Three finalist teams are still tentatively expected to be notified by April 23, 2020. Teams from Grady College have historically placed well in the past, taking home first place in 2007 and receiving an honorable mention in 2008 and 2009. It is hopeful that the UGA Bateman Competition Team will continue to earn awards with the 2020 Case Study and in the future.