Rider’s public relations society prepares for national competition

By Sarah Siock

For this year’s national Bateman competition, Rider’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was faced with the challenge of creating a campaign that focuses on increasing civility in public discourse during a time where tensions are especially high after a divisive election season.

The Bateman competition, hosted by the national PRSSA, tasks students with creating and executing a full-scale public relations campaign. This year’s competition asked students to exemplify how public relations professionals can restore inclusivity in public discourse. Rider’s Bateman team prepared a campaign titled, “Communication Across the Aisle” to address the competition’s theme.

The team, consisting of Rider students, created a campaign that actively involves the Rider community. PRSSA asked students to submit a video of themselves performing an act of creative expression that reflects a part of their identity or beliefs. Video submissions included dance routines, song performances and piano renditions.

“The theme of the competition is a reference to the political divide in our country. We wanted to emphasize civility, not necessarily uniformity, by fostering a conversation that includes everyone’s viewpoints and respects differences. We felt the best way to do that was to create a project that combines different viewpoints of students at Rider,” said sophomore public relations major and Bateman team member Keyonna Murray.

The team will present all of the submissions at a Zoom event on March 5 where a panel of judges, consisting of students and professors, will determine which pieces best represent the competition’s theme. The event will also feature live polls where viewers can vote on their favorite performance. Since students of all majors were invited to participate, the Bateman team hopes the events will foster diverse representation.

“Many times when people talk to those with different beliefs or opinions from them it goes very negatively. We are trying to give a platform to show that you can talk about those things in a positive way and facilitate an impactful conversation,” said sophomore public relations majors and Bateman team member Elise Spedding.

The creation of this event has been a work in progress throughout the semester. The students were not only in charge of creating the event but also the promotion of it, just like true public relations professionals. The team members said the process of working on the campaign helped them prepare for their future careers.

“Working as a team has taught me a great deal. We figured out our problems together. I have never planned an event of this scale and I really challenged myself throughout this process,” said senior public relations major and Bateman team member Ryan Wetter.

Wetter said that the making of the campaign came with many obstacles. Due to the restrictions presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the event was made virtual.

According to Wetter, promoting the event through digital outlets was difficult in the beginning.

“We have made a lot of progress. However, the biggest challenge was motivating our peers to participate in something like this since student involvement has been lower since the pandemic began,” said Wetter.

Once the event is complete the team will submit a report of their campaign to PRSSA.

In mid-April, the results of the competition will be announced. No matter the outcome of the competition, Murray said working on the project has been an irreplaceable experience that has shown her real-life skills.

“This project has taught me the importance of applying creative talents to something important. Often, we are told to put our passions aside in the workforce. However, I think if you are not motivated and passionate in what you are doing then you will not be successful,” said Murray.

News editor Hailey Hensley serves as a Bateman team member. Hensley was not involved with the writing or editing of this story.

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