Elon’s Bateman Team places in top three in nation

Elon University finished third in the nation in the 2011 Bateman Case Study Competition, a national contest established by the Public Relations Society of America to give university students an opportunity to exercise the analytical skills and judgment required for public relations problem solving.

Bateman Team members (l-r): Liz Moy, Alex Harrington, Molly Cox and Annie Hellweg

It is the fifth consecutive year that Elon has been recognized in the contest, which is the nation’s highest competition for public relations students. Among the 49 participating teams for 2011, the University of Florida and Loyola University New Orleans took first and second place, respectively.

“Using their own creative ideas, the team conducted a grassroots public relations campaign that touched the Burlington and campus community,” said Frances Ward-Johnson, an associate professor of communications and the team’s adviser. “They were absolute professionals in carrying out and presenting their campaign.”

This year’s team includes strategic communications students Annie Hellweg, Molly Cox, and Alex Harrington, all graduating seniors, and Elizabeth Moy, a junior.

The 2011 Bateman competition client was Ally Financial, one of the largest financial companies in the world, and the contest challenged teams to build brand awareness and expand outreach for the company’s financial literacy program.

Participation in the contest brought together everything they had learned in classes over the years, Cox said.

“It was so much more than simply creating and implementing a campaign,” she said. “I learned so much about public relations and the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

The team began researching the campaign last November and implemented their plan in February. The team’s “Better Luck With Your Buck” financial literacy campaign was aimed at Elon students and the Burlington residents to show them how to better manage personal finances.

Highlights of the work include: holding 16 financial sessions, training 964 students and residents in financial literacy; hosting a financial trivia night and Financial Friday Festival on campus; engaging students and residents in a virtual spending simulation; leading a petition for financial education to be incorporated in Elon 101 classes; conducting a Greek Banner competition related to finance; creating and distributing a DVD of financial training workshops for local organizations; and creating videos for Youtube and Facebook of Elon opinion leaders discussing the importance of financial literacy, including President Leo Lambert.

The team’s Facebook page received more than 16,000 post views during four weeks.

Students were notified in April that their campaign had been selected as one of the top three in the nation. The team and their adviser received an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to present their work to Ally Financial executives. Students were awarded $1,000 and a plaque, and the team will be recognized at the Public Relations Society of America’s National Conference in Orlando in October.

“We feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in the Bateman competition,” Hellweg said. “We had a wonderful time in New York and we’re proud that we created a campaign that really impacted the community.”