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Communications

SOC Graduate Students Win Public Relations Case Study Competition

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For the first time, two American University (AU) students have taken first place in the Arthur W. Page Society/Institute of Public Relations Case Study Competition. Graduate students in the Strategic Communication M.A. program, Rachel Pipan and Kelly Sheehan won the 2016 competition with their submission "See What Happens: How a Communications Campaign Saved Uber Billions."

"The Arthur Page Society is made up of chief communications officers from the worlds largest and most respected companies, and is one of the most prestigious organizations in the Public Relations industry," said AU School of Communication professor B.J. Talley, who also advised Pipan and Sheehan with this case study. "Rachel and Kelly earning first place in Page's annual case study competition makes a clear statement to our industry about the caliber of the AU communications program, along with our students and faculty. They deserve 100% of the credit for this honor."

The Arthur W. Page Society is a professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives who are looking to become stronger in their profession. And the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to research in, on and for public relations. This competition is a collaboration between the Page Society and IPR, it aims to introduce practical applications of the core principles of public relations. It also encourages research that contributes suggestions on how to improve the corporate public relations function.

Pipan came up with the idea to do the case study on Uber after an eye opening experience using the service application in New York City this summer while visiting a friend. "We were standing on a block in East Village and it was incredibly hot, even at 10 a.m.," said Pipan. "We both opened up our Uber applications to find an Uber to where we were going for brunch, and while she ordered ours I started looking at the different options. When I saw the "de Blasio's Uber" option, I clicked on it and was introduced to the Uber campaign we explored in our case study. I was fascinated. When it came time to pick a campaign for this case study competition, I immediately knew I wanted to dig deeper into this brilliant campaign by Uber."  

There were more than 100 cases submitted in this year’s competition from graduate and undergraduate business, PR and communication programs at more than 50 universities. Since 2002, the winning case studies have been available to educators for use in classroom and professional development activities through the Page Society and IPR online teaching resource library. Rachel and Kelly’s case study will become a part of the online teaching resource library.

"Winning first place was incredibly exciting," said Sheehan. "The amount of work Rachel and I put into the case study competition while also balancing our full-time work schedules and full-time graduate school schedules (we are both in the accelerated program), was overwhelming. We made the competition a priority when it came down to getting the work done, and I cannot express how proud I am of the final product.