NDSU students rank nationally in public relations competition
Bison Inc., a team of four NDSU seniors, is a finalist in a national student public relations competition.
Danielle Anderson of Cannon Falls, Minn., Nathanael Macy of Fertile, Minn., McKenzy Olson of Mohall, N.D., and Lauren Sobolik of Mayville, N.D., will compete against teams from Loyola University and Kent State University for first place in the Bateman Case Study Competition sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America. The team will pitch its “I Stand” anti-bullying awareness campaign via Skype on May 10.
Anderson received the call notifying the team that it was in the top three on April 14. Anderson’s first reaction was shock. Then she jumped up and down with excitement. When she regained her composure, she called her teammates to give them the good news. “The highest NDSU had ever placed before was 16th, and we were proud of that achievement,” Anderson said. “I remember thinking for the rest of the day, ‘Maybe I heard wrong. Maybe we really didn't get in the top three.’ ”
Anderson, Macy, Olson and Sobolik teamed up in fall 2012 to apply their classroom education to create a public relations campaign. They researched the literature on bullying, interviewed local school administrators, held focus groups and surveyed middle school students before developing their campaign strategy and communication plan.
During February, they implemented “I Stand” at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Middle School. The campaign focused on bystanders, encouraging students to stand up for people who are being bullied and to stand beside them as friends while showing bullies their behavior is unacceptable. The team used personal interactions, hands-on activities, video and social media to engage students with their message.
During the campaign, the team visited the school weekly at lunchtime for events they called Cafeteria Crashers. For one Cafeteria Crashers activity, students signed a pledge to stand up for other people and received an “I Stand” button as a reminder of their pledge. Another activity involved writing messages about standing up for people on balloons and releasing them. At the end of the month, the class that had demonstrated the most behavior related to the message received a pizza party. The team ultimately exceeded all goals for participation, change in behavior, social media engagement and continuation of the message.
Prairie Public Broadcasting plans to share the team's videos for a new project titled Stand Up: How to Stop Bullying. “I am very impressed with the quality of the NDSU Bateman team’s effort,” said Meg Luther Lindholm, producer of Prairie Public’s statewide “Stand Up” project. “They put a lot of good thought and energy into how to reach middle school students.” The videos will be posted to the Stand Up Facebook page and @standupnd.
The team is thrilled their message will carry on. “We never looked at it as winning a competition,” Olson said. “We looked at it as making a difference.”
The team said creating the campaign and working through challenges without the structure of a class was good preparation for their careers. “Basically, it was us,” Olson said. “If we didn’t do it, it wasn’t getting done.”
Some days that meant asking for donations or going to UPS to track down a delivery they needed immediately.
“This community is awesome,” Sobolik said. “I really don’t think our campaign would have caught on as well and received such positive support anywhere else. “DGF, NDSU and Fargo in general have all been great to us. We all agree this has been the best way to end our college careers.”
Anderson is a public relations major. Macy is double majoring in management communication and political science. Olson and Sobolik are public relations and advertising majors.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.