Five Belmont public relations students are competing in the nationally recognized Bateman Case Study competition. Named for J. Carroll Bateman, the competition challenges teams of students to devise the best public relations campaigns for a given client. This year’s competition is focused on the 2010 Census.
Belmont is represented by “Population Public Relations,” a team including Public Relations Student Society of America chapter president Sarah Norton, Jason Weidman, Allison Hurst, Joseph Norris and Bethany Nelson. The team is advised by media studies professor Susan Barnes.
Together, the team is charged with the task of raising awareness for the Census based in part on informational materials from the national Census office. The goal for their project is to create ways to spread the word. The competition also gives the students a chance to work with a real public relations client.
“I am gaining real experience, in real time, with all the time constraints, budgets and pressures of a real PR campaign,” said Nelson, a senior public relations major.
As part of their PR scheme, Population Pubic Relations has Belmont Census Week, a series of three convocations devoted to making Belmont students aware of the Census and its importance. The three convocations are being held in Massey 100 at 10 a.m. and offer different credit for each:
- Monday, February 15: Faith Development
- Wednesday, February 17: Community Service
- Friday, February 19: Personal Growth
The convocations are aimed not only at encouraging students to participate in the Census; they are also aimed at targeting Nashville’s homeless community.
The students are organizing a collection of gloves that can be passed out to the homeless of Nashville. Inside these gloves will be information on how to participate in the 2010 Census. They hope to collect between 200 and 300 pairs of gloves. For Norton, their participation is important.
“The census is a large factor is determining funding for cities based on population, so it’s incredibly important for the results to be as close to accurate as possible,” said Norton.
Jason Weidman has made contact with Susan West, Belmont’s Vice President of Presidential Affairs about obtaining funding for the project, although the formal written request has not been submitted yet. Weidman, a 21 year-old junior, was optimistic when speaking about the funding.
“I’m hoping we can receive funding from the university because this is not just a great opportunity for the Public Relations program, but it’s also a great opportunity for the university as a whole,“ he said.
According to Norton, her team must complete their activities by February 28. They will have a couple weeks to prepare their report for the judging in March. The top three finalists of the competition will present their campaign to the client, the United States Census Bureau, in May. The winner will be announced shortly after the presentations.
For more information on the United States Census and Belmont Census Week, the team has created a Facebook group to promote their efforts.