Members of USC's 2017 Bateman Team were reunited this month to receive an award of excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators. Though they're now alumni, the award was a reminder of what the Bateman Team did to prepare them for their careers.
"Nothing at USC prepared me for a job in public relations like Bateman Team did," said Corinne Doll, a recent graduate and member of the 2017 Bateman Team.
The 2017 team took on a "confusing" client in the spring semester: tackling the broad scope of mental health awareness. The team decided to zoom in on the mental health of the military community.
"Their research was pretty sound," said Ernie Grigg, faculty advisor to the Bateman Team. "They actually discovered that the military community had the most mental health issues in the state."
Faced with trying to find an organization to work with for the Campaign to Change Direction that was not anti-stigma proved to be a challenge, so they decided to create their own state-wide campaign: the South Carolina Coalition of Military Mental Health Awareness.
The coalition brought 17 organizations together to spread awareness of the five signs of emotional distress to both veterans and active military members. Through their outreach, they were able to create conversations about mental health in the military and even had Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin to declare Military Mental Health Awareness Day on Feb. 24.
"They thought big, and they delivered on that," Grigg said.
The team received an honorable mention from the Bateman Case Study Competition, finishing in the top ten of about 70 schools from around the country. They also received an Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators.
Not only were the former students recognized for their hard work, but the Bateman Class and the competition allowed for the former students to get real-world experience in PR.
Grigg operates the class like it is an actual job and pushes the students to become the best that they can be. He offers guidance and advice as the students learn how to manage their work hands-on and communicate with the public to get a message across.
"You've done a campaign already, and you're ready to do it in the real world as well," said alumna Alexis Monroe.
Students can get involved in the PRSSA Bateman Case Study Competition for USC by applying for and taking Grigg's PR Competitions class their senior year.
"It's an awesome experience. It gives you such a taste of what a real working world is like that sitting in a lecture hall wouldn't give you," former public relations student Cari Speed said.
Next semester, the 2018 teams will tackle pediatric cancer awareness.