GVSU PR Students Take 3rd Place in Case Study Competition

Page Case Winners
(Left to right) Teagan Epley, Emily Gagnon, and Allyssa Murphy worked together on a public relations case study that won third place in a national competition.

A student team of Allyssa Murphy, Teagan Epley, and Emily Gagnon took third place in the annual Case Study Competition in Corporate Communications. The national competition is sponsored by the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations.

(See the Page Society news release)

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). The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. Members of the groups, top PR professionals and Chief Communications Officers, served as judges for the annual case study competition.

The students completed their case study, titled “Google and the #MeToo Movement: Responding to a Global Walkout in the Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegations,” as an assignment in Dr. Tim Penning’s Fall PR Cases and Management class.

“We thought looking into the Google Walkout would be an interesting case because it’s timely and extremely relevant,” said Allyssa Murphy. “Most people think Google has this amazing company culture and is the best place to work, but we found out some very intriguing things in our research. We had a lot of fun and we’re thrilled to be recognized by the Page Society for our hard work.”

Students were given the option to do a typical library case study individually or work in a team and participate in the competition. Four teams created case studies according to the competition guidelines, and only three from any school could be submitted. Penning had to choose three to go submit to the competition.

“It was a tough choice,” Penning said. “All the work was good, but I had to decide on fine lines of excellence. I dreamed all three would win, but with 52 entries from top university public programs around the country, I’m delighted that Grand Valley is represented among the winners.”

The students’ case was an interesting example of employee relations or internal communications that involved a current social issue. According to the case study abstract: “Although Google aligns itself with the #MeToo Movement, employees felt it was necessary for the company to revise their policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. An article released by The New York Times detailing Google’s mishandled sexual harassment cases instigated a global walkout. On November 1, 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees in over 50 offices around the world protested the company’s policies. Google responded by releasing modified company values and practices in an attempt to improve strained internal communications. Employees, however, were unimpressed with management’s effort and demanded their needs be met.”

This is the second year in a row that a GVSU team has placed in the prestigious competition, and once again GVSU is in good company. The grand prize this year went to Boston University, first place to DePaul University, and second place to Brigham Young University.

Winners will be formally announced to members of the Arthur W. Page Society at its annual spring conference in New York City on April 4. The students received $800 to split as a third-place prize.

Alumna Unique DaCosta Combines Love of Advertising and Music in Job at Pandora

Interviewing Kiana Lede (Singer)
Unique DaCosta interviews singer Kiana Lede as part of her job at Pandora.

Unique DaCosta, a 2017 graduate with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Advertising and Public Relations, has what many would consider a dream job. She is a Creative Operations Assistant at Pandora, the popular music streaming service.

“My role here is pretty multifaced but to sum things up I am the Executive Assistant to the VP & Executive Creative Director,” DaCosta explains. “I sit at the intersection of our Brand/Content and Advertising Creative teams. This means that I assist each team with logistics, project management for artist captures, social media videos/campaigns, audio for our stations, on-boarding new hires, event planning and anything else that they throw my way!”

Between Grand Valley and this job in the San Francisco Bay area of California, the Illinois native earned a Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE) degree from Northwestern University. She took courses such as Pitching and Persuasion, Entertainment Law, Leading Creative Teams and more. As part of the program she completed a summer internship  at Pandora Media in the summer of 2018. After the internship, she returned to graduate from Northwestern and Pandora hired her full time.

She still thinks fondly of her days at GVSU.

“Taking Advertising and PR classes at GV really helped me build a foundation for my professional interests and career,” she says. “Working on an intimate level with artists was actually one of the goals I identified while speaking with Professor Adrienne Wallace back in 2017.”

DaCosta’s team just did the project management and creative work for Pandora’s newest product offering and marketing tool for artists: Pandora Hosted Stories.

“It’s a unique feature that combines the power of podcasts and music to tell amazing stories,” she explains. “Hosted Stories allow artists to curate music playlists combined with voice tracks explaining what inspires their music and sharing exclusive stories about the development and history of each song.”

Meanwhile, DaCosta is pursuing her own creative pursuits. While at GVSU she started a podcast with a friend. They are planning to relaunch it this year with more creative and interactive elements.