Journalism students challenged to compete

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications offers unique opportunities for students willing to take on extra responsibility and gain experience above and beyond what is taught in the classroom. The Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman Team, a group of five public relations seniors, has been given the task of researching, creating and implementing a comprehensive campaign for a national client.

The Public Relations Society of America sponsors this competition, involving more than 70 universities nationwide, and selects the client that teams promote throughout the month of February. This year, corporate sponsor Fiserv, a financial services and technology provider, has asked Bateman teams to create a campaign for their person-to-person payment service, Popmoney. 

Popmoney allows users to send money directly to anyone via an account number, an email address or a mobile phone number, regardless of where the other person banks. Bateman Team members have accepted the challenge to reach as many members of the Carolina community as possible during the month of February. We caught up with Paula Novacki, senior member of the team, to ask a few questions.

How did you first get involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America and the Bateman Team?

I first got involved with PRSSA the start of my sophomore year. During one of our resume workshops, the Bateman Team faculty adviser came to tell us about the awesome opportunity PR students have to participate nationally in a competition.

What has been your favorite part of campaigning for a real-world client?

In past years, Bateman Team competitions have often been centered on awareness campaigns for social issues or nonprofit causes such as bullying, childhood obesity and even ethics in student performance. One of the challenges with these sort of campaigns is they often lack sponsors and structure on how the campaign should be framed. Having a real client (Popmoney) and corporate sponsor (Fiserv) has definitely given our team more direction in which to take our campaign.

What has been the team’s biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges local to USC’s Bateman Team is that a product of our client’s chief competitor has recently become extremely popular on campus. It has been especially difficult because we researched this issue in October 2013, but competition regulations only allow action on our part in the month of February 2014.

What is the team’s biggest strength?

We are incredibly passionate about our campaign’s success. We are all similarly driven to accomplishment and our personalities have really blended well together. Additionally, having the support from other faculty and students in the journalism school has been extremely encouraging and a tremendous help.

As a member of the Bateman Team, what skills did you hope to gain from participating in this unique experience?

By joining the team, I really wanted hands-on experience on planning, creating an executing a big campaign. My goal post-graduation is to work in agency PR so I knew the Bateman Team would be a perfect experience to work with clients and make myself more competitive in that industry.

Why should public relations students apply for the Bateman Team?

There is no better way to be a part of a long-term and extensive project as a PR student. To become almost a subject-matter expert in a specific industry after almost a year of research and planning is incredibly beneficial to any future career. 

Is there anything else you would like the Carolina community to know?

Another one of my favorite aspects about being on this team is that even though I am doing this for a national competition, I get to make a positive impact on the USC community. Through our primary research, we discovered that students are significantly concerned about their privacy and security when it comes to the Internet. By hosting a series of educational events, we were able to raise awareness on proper cyber security and smart mobile banking in addition to promoting our product Popmoney. I am so thankful for the university’s support in our campaign and for the thousands of students we have reached regarding this important issue.

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