Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

April 6, 2009

Out of 40 teams, a group of eight Ball State University students placed second in the 2009 Arthur W. Page Society annual case study competition.

Students participating in the competition included: Samantha Adamczewski, Alexandra Garritano, Ashley Keebler, Matthew Kelly, Danya Pysh, Jennifer Regnier, Chanel Richards and Hillary Tribbett. The team collectively won $1,500, and Robert "Pritch" Pritchard, their faculty advisor, received a $350 award.

"We were stunned that we placed in the competition because it was our first year and because the other schools that have placed in the past are amazing schools," Regnier said.

The students spent about four months working on the 28-page case study about Gardasil and the public relations tactics of its manufacturer, Merck & Co. Gardasil is a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). After it hit the market in 2006, news reports surfaced alleging the vaccine caused side effects such as death and paralysis. The Ball State students analyzed the way the company dealt with the crisis and handled negative effects of the coverage.

"The significance of finishing in the competition is greatly amplified when you consider that past winners of the competition form a veritable 'Who's Who' of the top public relations programs in the country," Pritchard said.

Winners of the case study competition in past years included the University of North Carolina, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, Dartmouth College and Michigan State University.

The Arthur W. Page Society is a professional association for public relations and corporate communications professionals. Every year, the society encourages business, communication and journalism students to submit case studies. The competition aims to give students practical knowledge of research and core public relations principles.

"Everyone was excited about the win," said Regnier. "It was a great learning experience for all of us."

By Alyssa Brumback