The Best Hands-On PR Experience You've Been Waiting for: The PRSSA Bateman Competition
By Natalie Rohman
Staying last minute at one of our PRSSA meetings last year changed my life completely. My professional advisor, Jim Motzer, had asked everyone on the board about the next Bateman Competition participants and my hand shot up. Competition? I was all in.
Little did I know applying for it that night would bring a college experience of a lifetime. For those of you who don't know, the Bateman Competition is a national case-study competition for over 70 PRSSA chapters to compete by implementing a full public relations campaign during two semesters.
This year's client was the U.S. Census Bureau, and our DePaul team, A Sense of Us, was briefed with the opportunity to engage hard-to-count groups, specifically college students and renters, to participate in the 2020 Census. With a profound love for our campus community and connection to loyal residents, I was confident that our campaign would ultimately engage pride and passion Chicagoans have for their communities and be counted in the census on April 1.
A lot of people have questions regarding the course work and classroom expectations, and I have to say, you have got to be ready to go with the flow and change of course if needed.
My Prior Expectations:
This course would be challenging
The course would be structured
There would be cohesive teamwork
What began the term with extensive research and brainstorming with normal classroom lectures, became a full-fledged execution process that (for the better) consumed us all. Being the Account Executive of a five student-run campaign brought forth many tailwinds and headwinds.
1. You will have long nights
Our team worked fiercely, and that included long caffeinated nights in the library, but It goes to show that we were dedicated and passionate about getting the work done at its fullest potential
2. Teamwork doesn't always mean working as a team
We found ourselves delegating, and timing doesn't always work out for everyone. So whether we had to meet as a group over FaceTime, we rallied every day to get materials made separately
3. Take 5 steps forward, only to take 10 steps back
You will have flareups, times of doubt, cancelled plans, technology issues, personal life obstacles, and feel like you are putting more time into it than you ever imagined (but, you'll soon realize that it was all worth it)
"The census is boring" was our driving insight for this campaign. It tested not only me, but all of my team, because we really had to figure out a creative and exciting campaign that would romanticize the census in a way that young people would feel confident and motivated to ultimately Love Where You Count. Basing our campaign tactics on things people love like TikTok, sports, holidays, and romance, we prioritized Chicago pride and even engaged and secured support from local government officials.
For all aspiring PR pros, Love Where You Count taught me a few things I'd love to pass along:
1. Building Ambassadorship is Your #1 Greatest Tactic
In the words of former 2017 Bateman Account Executive, Brooke Beatty, this lesson still holds true. I wouldn't have believed It if you told me months ago that I would be meeting the President of the Board of Commissioners, Toni Preckwinkle, and form so many other political relationships because of it. The best way to reach our community was to build a network of trusted community leaders—and we did just that.
2. Saying "Yes" will Get You Far
There were moments when I second-guessed myself and creative abilities, but when tasked, I put my best foot forward and kept pushing at opportunities. Whether it be on campus, at local libraries, or community events, our team made it known that we would try everything to be anywhere. Send emails, follow-up, secure those media placements, and follow-up again. It's all in the process, but you'll quickly learn that taking on all opportunities will be the most rewarding.
3. Chicago Pride Inspires Lasting Impact
We found that people love their neighborhoods, and working on this campaign brought about comradery at every event we held in our community. It reminds me why I love what I do in the city I love. Our team developed a campaign that brought Chicagoans together and sparked their passion to see change in their communities.
As both of our DePaul team's submitted the final campaign document to the judges last week, I am beyond filled with gratitude for having this opportunity to experience what it's like to work on a full public relations campaign—an experience of a life-time.
I'd like to thank my advisor, Jim Motzer, for his endless support, guidance, and god-like industry wisdom throughout this campaign, we wouldn't have done it without you. I would also like to recognize the other DePaul Bateman team, The A Team, for their campaign efforts, as well.
Bateman is not for the faint of heart, but for those passionate and aspiring PR pros out there, I would highly encourage you apply to participate.
A Sense of Us—Callie Boboc, Stephanie Robertson, Natalie Rohman, Lauren Russett, and Maddie Torti
The A Team—Abigail Barbeau, Annie Evans, Aleeza Mehtab, Audrey, Nelson, and Adriana Talavera Gallegos
Faculty Advisor—Jim Motzer
Professional Advisor—Sarah Whitcher