Mendoza School of Business

Notre Dame graduate business students take top prizes in case-writing competition

Published: March 28, 2019 / Author: Carol Elliott

Case Study logoFake news and the USOC: Notre Dame graduate business students take top prizes in case-writing competition

Two teams of University of Notre Dame graduate business students took top prizes in the Arthur W. Page Society Case-Writing Competition in Corporate Communications, an event judged by some of the top communication officers and academics. 

The annual competition is designed to promote the practical applications of corporate communications as a critical management function. Participants submit a case study of an event that had implication for the organization’s public relations, particularly in the area of reputation management.

First prize was awarded to Joseph Berry, Jack Grassey and Emily Carson, all graduates of the Notre Dame Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) Class of 2018, for their case study, “The Washington Post: Delivering the Truth in an Era of ‘Fake News.” The case examined the implications of President Donald Trump’s charges of false reporting by the Washington Post and other media outlets.

Another team of MSA Class of 2018 students, Erica Levy and Rebeckah Wellen, took second prize for their study, “The United States Olympic Committee: Protecting Their Girls or the Gold?” The team explored the fallout of the Larry Nassar sexual misconduct case and its impact on the USOC.

Amanda McKendree, Arthur F. and Mary J. O’Neil Director of the Fanning Center for Business Communication at Mendoza College of Business, served as adviser to both teams.

“Mendoza graduate students hold a strong tradition of success in this case study competition,” said McKendree, who also is a Management & Organization associate teaching professor at Mendoza. “Since 2002, our students have received a total of 27 prizes, including first and second prizes in the 2018 competition, as well.”

The teams developed the cases as part of the Corporate Communication course taught by McKendree, which includes MBA and MSA students. The students pick topics in consultation with faculty members, typically selecting ones that are currently much discussed in the news and have elements that are highly relevant to communications professionals. The students conduct extensive research into the issue and interview primary sources for additional insights. Each team presents to the entire class and provides materials including the case study, a presentation slide deck and a teaching note to guide classroom discussions.

The Fanning Center administers the business communication curricula and oversees the development and publication of case studies, which are used for teaching purposes in college classrooms throughout the U.S. Since 2002, the Center has published more than 400 cases.

Fanning’s larger mission is to promote business communication excellence in an ever-changing global and digital society.

The courses and resources provided by Fanning, including the case study competition, provide business communication knowledge and skills critical to a wide range of professional careers, said McKendree. “Even if students do not aspire to becoming a Chief Communications Officer, they probably will work with one or even be responsible for hiring one at some point,” she added. “The course introduces students to all aspects of corporate communication, from employee communication to investor relations to media relations. The course helps students understand as a leader how they can capitalize on strong communication skills.”

The Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications, which is sponsored by Page and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), awards students whose original case studies best contribute to the profession’s body of knowledge and provide practical suggestions improving the corporate communication function. This year’s competition drew 56 entries from 24 communications and business schools in Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.

The grand prize was awarded to an entry submitted by Boston University on the Dove brand and its struggle to navigate the rising expectations of corporate responsibility.

The annual competition is judged by a panel comprising Page members and Page Up members. Criteria included relevance and timeliness, as well as the significance of the problem and the effective use of the seven Page Principles, which the Page Society embraces as the core principles that guide the actions of public relations practitioners.

Page is a global membership organization that brings together the world’s leading communications executives to strengthen the enterprise leadership role of the chief communications officer (CCO). Page has nearly 800 members in 25 countries, representing a multitude of industries, leading PR agencies, influential nonprofits and NGOs, and highly respected academicians. Both McKendree and former Fanning director James S. O’Rourke are members of the Page Society. O’Rourke received the Society’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017 in recognition of his contributions and achievements in business communication.