The students’ case study focused on how companies can manage their executives’ social media usage
Communications graduate students Kylie Brooks and Sara Bezdjian May took second place in the communications division of the Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition, which features original cases studies from students across the U.S. This is the third year in a row that graduate students from the School of Communications placed in the competition.
“Our goal from the beginning of working on this case study was to place in the Arthur W. Page case competition,” said Brooks. “We reached our goal of placing in the competition, and for that, I am incredibly honored and proud. Sara was an amazing research partner and it was great to see our hard work recognized.”
Communications professor Chris Wilson, the faculty mentor for the project, said they were determined from the start. “Kylie and Sarah were great to work with. They just dove headfirst into the data and didn’t look back,” said Wilson.
Brooks and May’s case study focused on Elon Musk’s personal social media usage, mostly on Twitter, and how it both increased Tesla’s brand loyalty and also negatively affected the company’s stock value and relationship with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The topic was interesting to May and Brooks, who saw it as an opportunity to learn about a relatively new challenge for public relations: how does the personal social media of CEOs and other high-level executives influence stakeholders?
“We chose to look at Elon’s social media use because personality and CEO behavior are becoming more and more inseparable from business culture and decisions,” said May. “Even politics are getting more and more personal, so we wanted to have our case study illuminate how and why leaders impact their organizations on a personal level.”
Brooks and May’s case study came to the conclusion that corporations should use a vetting system for C-suite executives and their public social media usage. They also recommended that companies select an executive to be over external communications.
“Our case indicates that a CEO’s tweets and other social media activity does have visible impact in the stock market, even if the content of that activity is not related to the company’s stock,” said Brooks. “There is also the less-visible impact on the various relationships that company has with stakeholders, which is not measurable but can erode over time if the social media activity is not monitored for legal and business best practice.”
Brooks, who currently works as the marketing and public relations manager for the BYU Museum of Art, said the award is motivating and validating.
“I’m proud to know that my assessment of these types of PR situations is apt. I feel confident in many different strategic PR situations, whereas before I might have deferred to others’ opinions without sharing my own,” said Brooks. “I’m excited and eager to continue learning more about communications and applying what I’m learning to my work.”
May also said receiving the award had an impact on her. “This competition helped me see that potential is truly determined by hard work, vision and planning,” said May. “It confirmed my belief that I can achieve great things and, by working with others, we can achieve even better things.”