By: Nikki Mikolon
Going to college is hard work. Many individuals going to college are not just going to college. They are working a job (or two), taking care of family, trying to have a social life, etc. There’s an endless list of things that students are doing. It’s rare to find the student who is solely going to school then coming home and doing homework. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it, right? The answer is ABSOLUTELY! As a commuter, I always questioned becoming part of an on-campus organization that would cause me to come to campus more than what was mandatory, as well as taking part in a highly demanding competition run by PRSSA. “The Bateman Case Study Competition is PRSSA’s premier national case study competition for public relations students, and gives you an opportunity to apply your classroom education and internship experiences to create and implement a full public relations campaign.”
This is my second year taking part in the Bateman competition. Here are some lessons I have learned from running and executing two campaigns through Bateman:
1. Research is NOT overrated.
This has to be one of the most popular statements in history when it comes to school and public relations, but it could not be more relevant. Crossing over from the classroom to running an actual campaign with my teams quickly reminded me that the same great idea we initially came up with was not always original. Most likely, there was someone else who had the same great idea, but they got to it first. Researching before planning is imperative. You should be researching the client, industry, target market and even taking a look at those great campaigns that shared similar ideas. Researching previous campaigns gives us the advantage to alter them, making the campaigns better and capitalizing on mistakes made and tactics that worked well.
2. Tactical vs. Strategic
The Bateman competition is a great way to see all sides of public relations and really how much work goes into each aspect of the job. Oftentimes in classes, while learning how to do public relations work and writing plans, we are too focused on that strategic aspect. Yes, this is important, and yes this can be extremely difficult at times. Bateman was a reminder of how important the tactical pieces of a plan are. The tactics are all the things we do to make the campaign run. For example, hosting an event, but don’t forget all the planning that goes into hosting the event, like who to contact, where to have it, how to advertise, who to invite, etc. These are multiple steps to hosting an event all tied into one tactic. Physically doing the tactics makes it clearer to tell the differences between the two crucial pieces of a plan: tactical vs. strategic.
3. Take credit for what you do.
Tim Wieland, PRSA Detroit president and EMU PRSSA’s professional advisor, met with the 2017 Bateman team to discuss what we have done and looked over the team’s plans book. When writing a plans book, people don’t know exactly what you have done and all the work you have put into it unless you tell them. When writing a plans book, it needs to be explicitly stated what you and your team have done to accomplish your goals because the steps you took to get to the end goal are just as important as the actual results in this case. This is the time for a team to show everything they have done and all the hard work it took to get there.
Working on the Bateman team was an unforgettable experience. Bateman is a place to test students’ abilities outside of the classroom and in an area in which they are in full control. Starting from scratch with an actual client is different than any other experience one can get while still enrolled in college. In class, we learn how to make a plans book, what to write in them and so on. At our internships, we are mostly doing the tactical pieces of the plan that those above us have already devised. We are removed from both phases of the planning and execution so we may not always see the connection. After my second year of doing the Bateman Case Study Competition, I finally had my light bulb moment. I experienced what it was like to see a public relations campaign from the true start to finish. I have never felt more prepared for the life that leads me after graduation. To say that I understand how to devise a plans books and actually execute and see everything that goes into it has been the most valuable experience I have ever been given in college.
Nikki Mikolon is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. As a Detroit native, she hopes to spend her beginning years working for the city and being a part of its renaissance. Connect with Nikki on Twitter @nikkimikolon.