PRSSA 2020-2021

Faculty advisor Doug Draper with Manship students Mary Coll, Caylee Deshotel, Jordan Klemm, Gabie Debruler, Natalie Marse and Madelyn Ybarzabal. 

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosts the Bateman Competition every year, where universities across America create a campaign for a given topic.

Mass Communication Professor and Faculty Adviser Doug Draper composed the 2020-2021 team through an application process. Students who wanted to join the team had to have taken public relations writing and public relations research as prerequisites to the team. This year the team is composed of six members and three alternates.

The team consists of social media specialist Mary Coll, account executive Caylee Deshotel, media relations coordinator Jordan Klemm, creative director Gabie Debruler, writing associate Natalie Marse and project manager Madelyn Ybarzabal.

“We have a very good team of strong contributors,” Draper said. “They want to participate and win a national championship.”

The six students will launch a new political party to campaign for better civility in American life, and their idea is to encourage more constructive and inclusive conversations to create a more compassionate society.

The topic that PRSSA released this year was “restoring civility and society.” The task of the LSU team is to take that topic, make it their own and create a campaign. Their campaign is called “The Cooperation Party.” They started planning as early as October but did not present their campaign to the committee until Feb. 8.

“The slogan we came up with can be summed up by this,” Deshotel said. “The Cooperation Party is a grassroots social movement to help reverse the corrosion of civility in American life and foster more constructive, inclusive public discourse in all corners of society, leading by example through a constant call for more cooperative behavior.”

For LSU to have its best chance at winning, the team needs to demonstrate four key steps in its campaign: research, planning, implementation and evaluation. For their research, the team members read through academic journals for mass communication and trade publications from the public relations industry.

“For example, our team members conducted two focus groups with 10 participants in each group,” Draper said. “Through a facilitated discussion, they received feedback from representatives of the team’s target audiences, which was primarily about the messages and tactics inspired by the secondary research.”

For planning, they took what they learned from their groups and create a plan, which is a requirement for the competition. From Feb. 8 to March 8, the team members will implement their strategies to reach their targeted campaign audience. After March 8, the team will evaluate the effectiveness of their campaign. Three finalists will be selected after all submissions are made by March 29.

“A lot of our implementation is done through social media due to COVID-19,” Deshotel said. “Our social media page includes tips and quotes on how to better society.”

Draper and Deshotel believe this campaign is needed, especially now in today’s society. They want to see this campaign continue even after the competition ends.

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