In Graduate Students

BYU School of Communications graduate students came out on top this year during the Arthur W. Page Case Study Competition. Jason Freeman, Melissa Seipel, and Tambi Issac tied for second place against 85 other entries from 35 different schools.

The students submitted, “Fifth Time’s the Charm? Chipotle’s String of Disasters in 2015 and Why Action Can’t Fix It All” to the competition. The group created the project around Chipotle’s recent trouble with food safety issues. The team worked together to research the history, corporate structure, mission and newer challenges faced by Chipotle.

The campaign was a semester-long project for students in Dr. Christopher Wilson’s graduate public relations theory class. The three graduate students had their work cut out for them. BYU Comms students last placed in this competition in 2005.

“We organized an in-depth timeline of their challenges and carefully observed what communications and changes Chipotle implemented throughout the crisis,” said Freeman, graduate student, and team member. “I feel that we did a very thorough examination of the series of crises that Chipotle underwent.”

Wilson mentored the students throughout the process, but the final project came down to the student’s knowledge and ability to apply PR theories.

Seipel studied communications as an undergrad at BYU and is now working on her master’s in Mass Communications. She will begin a Ph.D. program in communications this fall.

“We all had a lot of fun working on this project,” said Seipel. “It was a great, hands-on way for us to learn and apply PR theory and principles in a way that would prepare us for a career in PR if we should ever choose to go that route.”

The Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications, sponsored by the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), awards students whose original case studies best examine the practice of corporate communications in a business issue or crisis.

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