Campus News Society & Culture

UGA’s Grady College Bateman Team wins national championship

Athens, Ga. – Five public relations students from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication won first place in the national Bateman Case Study Competition in Washington, D.C., on May 14.

The team included account executive Kristin Ballard from Atlanta; Courtney Garmhaus, Litchfield, Mich.; Debbie Ebalobo, Masinloc, Zambales, Philippines; Magan Cowart, Milledgeville; and Bridgett Johnson, Brunswick. The UGA team was advised by Kaye D. Sweetser, assistant professor of public relations. It was Sweetser’s first time working on a Bateman project.

The competition, sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America, uses a single national client. The 2010 client was the U.S. Census Bureau. Student teams from college campuses across the nation competed to create the ultimate public relations campaign. The UGA Bateman team competed against 67 other schools this year and was selected for the finals as one of three teams to present to the client and PRSSA.

Working since fall 2009, the hand-picked public relations students created a hyper-local, grassroots campaign to promote the 2010 U.S. census in the local Athens community.

The UGA Bateman team’s iCount campaign focused on the student population at UGA as well as hard-to-count populations within Athens such as the Latino community. Steeped in extensive scientific research, the UGA Bateman team took a four-pronged approach to increase knowledge of the census, communicate its benefits, educate the community about the new short form and increase likelihood of participation.

“Through a series of media placements, campus and community events, social media sites and extensive word of mouth, we exceeded all of our campaign goals,” said Ballard of the iCount campaign. “We’re proud that in a short 28 days we achieved more than 700,000 potential impressions of people seeing our campaign message.”

The UGA team obtained more than 3,500 signatures of local citizens pledging to participate in the census, which represents a potential return of more than $5 million in federal funding.

“There was a 109 percent increase in knowledge about the census among college students and a 98 percent increase in Latino awareness about the census during the campaign,” Ballard said.

The Bateman team credits its Grady coursework with preparing them for this ultimate public relations campaign experience.

“I used parts of every single Grady class I’ve ever taken in the Bateman campaign,” said Garmhaus. “We did primary research that I learned in PR research, writing tactics I learned in PR communication and created the book with programs I learned in graphics. Without my Grady education, we couldn’t have created such a well-rounded, well-thought-out campaign.”

The UGA Bateman team won $2,500 for first place. The prize money was presented to the college’s chapter of PRSSA to reinvest into future chapter programs.

“With the level of support that the Drewry PRSSA chapter provides our public relations students, presenting the team’s winnings to the chapter is the least we can do,” said Sweetser. “The quality of our students at Grady is in part a testament to the high level of mentorship and professional development opportunities our students receive through the UGA PRSSA chapter.”

Historically, teams from Grady College have placed well within the competition, having won the Bateman competition outright in 2007 and receiving honorable mention in both 2008 and 2009.

The UGA Bateman team is sponsored by Grady’s PRSSA chapter. The national Bateman case study competition began in 1973 as an avenue for PRSSA members to employ practical public relations skills and problem solving. In recent years, competition clients have included organizations such as Ford Motor Credit Co., Nutella and Habitat for Humanity.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see