STORY BY GRACE ROGERS
If you have noticed the hashtag #NeighborhoodMatters popping up on your social networks lately, you can thank a group of Drake University students.
Five public relations majors are participating in the national Bateman Competition.
“Bateman is a national case studies competition that happens yearly,” sophomore Kelly Marble said. “It happens with about 50 to 60 teams from around the country. It’s an opportunity for students to plan, evaluate and implement a full-scale public relations campaign.”
While some schools require their students to participate in the Bateman Competition, it is optional for Drake students.
“The unique thing about Drake’s Bateman team is that we do it as an extracurricular activity, while a lot of other teams around the country do it as their senior capstone” Marble said. “For us, we have everyone from freshman to seniors on the team and it allows everyone to get an experience.”
“I think Bateman is an awesome opportunity for PR students who are really motivated to go the extra mile to see a project through from beginning to end,” Public Relations Professor Jennifer Glover-Konfrst said. “I think it’s important that they can do that in an environment where they get to actually see their results.”
This year, the team was allowed to find a client close to home.
“The overall client this year is Home Matters, but we were allowed to either focus on Home Matters or incorporate a local affiliate of theirs,” first-year Jordan McEntaffer said. “So we chose to add the Neighborhood Finance Corporation which is here in Des Moines.”
“Neighborhood Finance provides low interest and forgivable loans to people who might not otherwise qualify,” Marble said. “For example, one of their clients didn’t have a credit history, so the bank normally would not give them a loan to buy a home. Through Neighborhood Finance, they were not only able to get a loan to buy a home in the Drake neighborhood, but they were also able to get a forgivable loan to make improvements to their house.”
Participating in the Bateman Competition allows students to gain experience they may not get in their regular classes.
“We do a lot of public relations planning in classes throughout the major, but with Bateman you actually get to implement the plan, which is something you don’t always get to do,” Glover-Konfrst said. “So it’s a really great opportunity to see your ideas in action.”
“I was told it was a great way to gain PR experience,” McEntaffer said. “It seemed like a way for me to figure out if I truly wanted to do PR, and so far, it’s been amazing.”
To find out more about the Bateman campaign, you can follow the Neighborhood Finance Corporation on Twitter, @NFCDM, or like them on Facebook. The competition runs through the end of February.