Five University students are hoping to end bullying, and they are making their case through a national public relations competition.
Manship School students Jacquelyn Duhon, Chelsea Moreau, Catherine Parsiola, Remy Plas and Camille Walther created the To Be Honest campaign, an anti-bullying initiative named after the social media game of the same name. The campaign is part of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s Bateman Case Study Competition.
The contest includes participants from universities across the country, all of whom must create public relations campaigns targeting a specific issue.
Teams selected by the PRSSA national panel gain recognition from major PR firms, and strategic communications professor Jensen Moore-Copple said Bateman students usually go on to impressive internships or jobs.
According to the campaign’s website, “This game has become an excuse for kids to cyberbully one another. The To Be Honest campaign challenges kids to rethink the game.”
While the campaign primarily focuses on combating cyberbullying via social media, the team has also partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge and BREC to spread their message.
Walther, Bateman team member and public relations senior, said they decided to target Baton Rouge middle school students because they believe that age group is where most bullying occurs.
“[Middle school students] are not legally allowed ’til the age of 13 to get onto social media, so we’re hoping we can get their older siblings and parents and have them share that information with them,” Walther said.
The team has created educational materials about bullying prevention and has presented them to students at local middle schools.
BREC Director of Communication Cheryl Michelet said the organization did not hesitate when the Bateman team contacted them about a partnership because of the issue’s relevance.
“It’s a good message, it’s a timely message, it’s an important message and our kids need to hear it,” Michelet said.
Michelet said BREC has discussed making the team’s educational materials available at the organization’s spring and summer camps, which she said around 10,000 children participated in last year.
Carlos Daniels, director of program operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge, said they are planning to use the team’s program one or two days per week during their after-school program. He said the campaign falls in line with the Boys and Girls Club’s mission to make kids more responsible and caring citizens.
All five Bateman Team students are in Moore-Copple’s public relations campaigns class.
Moore-Copple said this year, there were about 10-15 applicants for the University’s Bateman team, and the entire public relations faculty convened to choose who would be the best fit for the competition.
Walther said in the past, a professor would assign chosen applicants individual jobs for the team. This year, Walther said there are no specific jobs and the duties have fallen into place based on each member’s personality.
“I didn’t want them to be constricted by job titles,” Moore-Copple said. “I wanted them to all consider themselves as equals.”
Plas said the competition rules state each campaign must run from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28, and all of their social media and online materials must be gone or inactive by midnight on the 28th.
After the 28th, Moore-Copple said the team will hand over its materials to BREC and the Boys and Girls Club and will be unable to do any more work on the campaign.