Four students, under the direction of Liang Ma, Ph.D., received the 2023 Jack Koten Page Principles Case Study Award. Undergraduate students Ayesha Djibo, Mya Estrada ’22 and Kelly Weinstock and graduate student Breahn Fisher were honored and received their award at the Page Spring Seminar in New York.
The students started their case study in Ma’s Crisis Communication class last semester.
“In the winter of 2022, I continued to mentor and guide this highly motivated and diverse group, so that they could continue to build on and perfect the case and submit it for the competition,” Ma said. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that our school won this prestigious international case study competition. I am super proud of the work that our brilliant students have done.”
The team continued to work on the project over winter break.
“We knew how relevant and ongoing this case was, so it would definitely leave an impact on readers. This case can teach other students about communication tactics between a business and state government, said Djibo, a senior Strategic Communications major. “We are so grateful to Dr. Ma for being active and present throughout this time to help us update our class project to Page Society Standards.”
Their case study, “Trouble in Paradise,” analyzes Disney’s response to State Bill HB 1557 in Florida. The controversial bill prohibits the discussion and instruction of sexual orientation or gender expression in classrooms.
“This winning case study highlights how Disney’s stakeholders reacted to the company taking a stance on a controversial sociopolitical issue and the resulting financial and reputational impact on the company,” said Page President Roger Bolton.
The students navigated how Disney publicly opposed the law, despite the outlined repercussions on its special law status and the impact on different stakeholders, as well as the company’s reputation and financial standing.
“The case highlights the initiatives that businesses today must take in order to follow their stances on social issues with meaningful action,” Dr. Ma said. “How companies should navigate the discussions of controversial social-political issues is a very important topic in the strategic communication industries and education today.”
The A.W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations sponsor the case study competition, which “awards students whose original case studies best contribute to the profession’s body of knowledge and provide practical suggestions for improving corporate communication as a function,” according to the website. This year’s competition drew 36 entries from 22 educational institutions across the United States, China, the Philippines and Singapore. A panel of public relations professionals from various backgrounds, such as IBM, Lockheed Martin Space, Levi Strauss & Co., judged the competition.
“It is such an honor to be recognized by two of the most prestigious organizations in the field of strategic communications, The Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations,” said Fisher, a Strategic Communication graduate student. “We feel extremely proud of our hard work and dedication to this case study and are so grateful for the opportunity to share our work with others. The experience has been an invaluable learning opportunity.”
The students will discuss their case study in an upcoming episode of the “New CCO” podcast. Read the press release from the A.W. Page Society and see the student’s winning submission as well as other winners.