Up the Ante: A Powerful Bateman Competition Student Experience

It's Tough To Be Tough team wins honorable mention in prestigious Bateman Competition
It’s Tough To Be Tough team wins honorable mention in Bateman Competition

By Brooke Beatty

If you would have asked me three years ago when I stepped onto the DePaul University’s campus that a case competition would change my life, I would have asked you, “What is a case competition?”

But it is the truth. About a year ago I was scrolling through my email on the train when I received word that I had been selected to compete in the 2016-17 Bateman Case Competition. At the time I did not know what type of whirlwind I signed up for or the profound impact it would have on my life.

This year the Bateman client was the Campaign to Change Direction. A mental health organization committed to raising awareness for the five signs of emotional pain.  Once I heard the client, I knew the two DePaul University teams were in a position to make a difference.

One of the most integral parts of the college experience is interacting and trying your hand in the real world. For a long time, I had loved all the aspects of my PR classes at DePaul, but I felt ready to up the ante. Instead of telling my class I was going to pitch to WGN-Chicago, I wanted to actually land a WGN placement. Spoiler alert, we did.

The Bateman competition will test you. It will make you work harder than you thought possible.  It will make you come up with ideas you never knew you had. But most importantly, it taught me the power of a cohesive team. I was lucky to work with a team of motivated students who, like me, signed up for Bateman to win.

Our campaign was called, It’s Tough to be Tough. This campaign truly exemplifies every facet of the public relations process. Our team chose to target minority students because we wanted to provide resources and speak to students with the most need. Throughout dozens of interviews with students we kept hearing, “It’s tough” and “Sometimes our families just say, be tough”. From there, we found our insight, and the rest is history.

Our campaign wanted to change the conversation about mental health within minority communities. Sometimes in life, It’s Tough to be Tough and in those moments reach out and seek help.

I learned a few lessons through It’s Tough to be Tough that I want to pass along to other aspiring PR pros. There are as follows:

  1. Ambassadorship is your single greatest tactic: It’s Tough to be Tough revolved around the use of thought leaders in minority communities at DePaul University. We believed the best way to reach minorities was to find students who could reiterate our message authentically to our target audience.
  2. The media loves a good pop-up shop: Our campaign’s centerpiece was The Cozy Corner. The biggest challenge our campaign faced was securing media placements in the competitive Chicago media market. However, The Cozy Corner turned the challenge into a media opportunity. The Cozy Corner was beautiful to photograph and created a catalyst for conversation with our target audience and Chicago media.
  3. Learn when to take a deep breath: As the Account Director, there were many times when I thought the sky was falling and I was not sure we would make it to the finish line. But the sky never fell and we did make it to the finish line. And that’s because I had a team to fall back on. We learned each other’s strengths and trusted our research and our guts.

Our bottom-up approach made it easier to talk about pressing societal issues. Without being flashy or complex, our team developed a humble but impactful campaign that delivers a clear message: When you see mental health issues in a loved one, do not let them just tough it out – reach out.

To learn more about the It’s Tough to be Tough campaign check out our website: https://www.ttbtcasestudy.com.  A second DePaul team–We Are DePaul Blue–also received honorable mention in this year’s Bateman competition. Team members:

  • It’s Tough to be Tough: Brooke Beatty, Sydney Bickel,Joash Mencias, Andrew Willett and Arielle Shapiro
  • We Are DePaul Blue: Mia Hinkebein, Kate Hohenstatt, Alexa Ohm and Meghan Thesing
  • Faculty Advisor: Maria De Moya  Professional Advisor: Rajul Jain

Brpple Beatty  Brooke Beatty is a junior at DePaul University studying Public Relations and Environmental Policy. She is the incoming Summer 2017 Global Corporate Affairs Intern at Wrigley. In the future, she hopes to work in public affairs and crisis communications. Before anything else, she is a proud Iowan.





3 thoughts on “Up the Ante: A Powerful Bateman Competition Student Experience

  1. Hey Brooke! Thanks for writing this. We met back at the Chicago conference that you all did such an amazing job organizing! I’m from Southeast Missouri State University. Have a couple of questions for you.
    1. Why did you choose to go the route of focusing on minority mental health instead of keeping it broader?
    2. How long did this campaign run from start to completion?
    3. Does Depaul have a student-run PR firm? Or was this completely run out of PRSSA?

    Thank you for doing this. I have been very passionate lately about pushing mental health causes, so I’m very happy to see it was the focus. Hope all is well. I’ll be up for Gorillaz in July and I’m rocking the press pass for Lollapalooza. Have a great summer!

  2. Hey, Bruce! Great to hear from you, come back to Chicago soon. Thank you for the questions. Tough to be Tough chose to target minority students for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest was from our research. We found a clear disparity in mental health resources for minority communities. Moreover, DePaul is a school with a high population of minority students and we thought that yielded the potential for making a difference in our campus community.

    The Bateman Competition is a yearlong program through PRSSA. Although individual schools have their own programs, students generally prepare for a year. However, all the teams competing must implement their campaign during a four-week window. Thus, our campaign lasted 4 weeks and then we had two weeks to write a brief.

    At DePaul, the Bateman Competition is a yearlong class. Students meet twice a week in a classroom setting and then meet with their groups throughout the rest of the week. PRSSA does help with some of the costs, but the College of Communication sponsors the two teams.

    Thank you for engaging in the conversation, Bruce. Let me know if you have any more questions, I love talking about Bateman.

  3. Very interesting! Appreciate your response. Our firm’s faculty advisor is pushing for a group to enter Bateman, but we don’t have anything like a class or communication department support, so it would be an uphill fight the entire way.

    That entirely makes sense on the minority question as well, good decision! I’ll hit you up on Twitter if I think of anything else.

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