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SOC Students Win Second Place in Global Arthur Page Case Study Competition

The winning case study explored the complexities of Starbucks’ recent worker tensions.

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Yasmeen Jabara, Meagan Keefe, Nicolas Blanco Ballesteros and Gabriela Perez

Students from the American University School of Communication (AU SOC) were recently awarded second place in the prestigious Arthur Page Case Study Competition. The competition, co-sponsored by the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations, recognizes original case studies created by students that impact the current body of corporate communications research. Graduating PR and Strategic Communication seniors Yasmeen Jabara, Meagan Keefe, Nicolas Blanco Ballesteros, and Gabriela Perez wrote their paper under the direction of Professor Pallavi Kumar during her PR Case Studies class last semester before submitting it to the competition. Jabara said Kumar’s feedback throughout the class helped them transform individual projects into a larger collaborative case study. Kumar grounded the feedback in the Page principles helping set her students up for success. Keefe said, “[Kumar] has so much experience in the field and knows the ‘secret sauce’ — all the things the judges are looking for.” 

Their winning case study, “The Starbucks Union Boom: How a Pro-Worker Employer Became a Union Target,” explored the complexities of Starbucks’ recent worker tensions through an in-depth look at how the company modified its communications and made proactive changes. Ballesteros said, “We were all pretty excited [to learn we had won] because of the amount of work we put in, both during the semester and then after the semester over winter break.”

As soon as they heard the news, they called Kumar. “She was so excited on the phone when I called to tell her we won! We were all just so thrilled,” said Keefe. Jabara and Keefe both spoke of how unique an experience the whole process was and how exciting it was to have an award-winning deliverable they could show to potential employers. In addition, they cited Kumar’s instruction with helping them critically analyze corporate crisis situations that they know will be useful in the future. 

“The Arthur Page Case Study Competition is such a prestigious honor, and it is the first time that undergraduate students at American have won,” said Kumar, Hurst Professorial Lecturer and faculty director of SOC3. “The judges are a who’s who of leaders in corporate communications including heads of communications from Southwest Airlines, General Motors and Levi Strauss & Co. I am beyond proud of Yasmeen, Nicolas, Meagan and Gabby for not just winning but also for adding and enhancing the knowledge base of corporate communications learnings."