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School Of Communications

BYU Student Embraces Empathy Through PR Competition for Culturs Magazine

Gabby Huntsman Shares Her Experience Working on a Campaign for the PRSSA Bateman Competition

Gabby Huntsman [far left] with Her Bateman Competition Team. Photo Courtesy of Gabby Huntsman.

I didn’t realize when I was selected to represent BYU in a national public relations competition, that I would increase my understanding of God’s love for His children.

For the last six months, I have been working with a group of fellow public relations students at BYU on the PRSSA Bateman Competition. The Bateman Competition is a national public relations competition where teams of college students across the country research, plan, implement and evaluate a PR campaign from beginning to end for a singular client. This year the client was a global cultural magazine called Culturs. Culturs Magazine focuses on the hidden diversity in the world, hence the missing “e.” They share the stories of people who fall “in-between cultures.” This includes military brats, multicultural kids, third-culture kids, etc. It encompasses everyone who doesn’t feel like they belong anywhere. Their goal is to share the voices of those who fall between cultures.

Throughout the project, my team and I were able to create a community of understanding. We had several discussions to truly understand which way we needed to direct our campaign. After we conducted a focus group, we watched as students exchanged contact information with each other and bonded through their shared experiences. They had no idea other people had experienced similar situations. This was their start to develop a community. Through only one focus group, we were able to connect people in a way they wouldn’t have been able to connect beforehand.

We used our research from our focus group and survey to direct our PR campaign. It was based on what students said about their feelings and experiences. Our campaign was to “Embrace the Cultures Between Me and You.” We held booths in the Wilkinson Center where we engaged students in conversations and shared our message and the message of Culturs Magazine. We encouraged students to sign our pledge and attend our event. Many students responded positively to our efforts. Those who identified as third-cultured or multi-cultured were impressed with our desire to share their stories. Those who didn’t identify as multicultural were excited to learn about how they could help. It was rewarding to see students learn about diversity.

The highlight of our campaign was the event we hosted. We took inspiration from the Human Library organization and conducted our own “human library.” We reached out to people on campus who fell in the cultural in-between to be our “books.” Attendees at our event could walk around and ask the participants questions about their experiences. We had Miss Utah and future BYUSA president, Sarah Sun, attend as one of our “books.” We also got to hear from BYUSA vice president, Tala Alnasser, and her experience as an Arabic woman at BYU. I also listened and participated in this event as well. It was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. You could see that every attendee wanted to learn more about the various cultures that were represented.

Attendees Wrote Their Thoughts on Sticky Notes After the Event. Photo Courtesy of Gabby Huntsman.

After the event, we had attendees reflect and share what they learned by writing on sticky notes. One student said, “I love how I got to know all these different individuals on campus. All the stories inspired me to become someone better than I am.” Another student shared that it was “an insightful experience that established great conversation.” The School of Communications partnered with us to host our event and the event was received so well that the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Board wants to make it a regular event each semester. We all learned from each other, we made connections and we created a community of love and understanding.

I love PR because it is a major where I can have experiences like the Bateman competition. Not only do I get to include the execution of a PR campaign on my resume, but I have also created a deeper sense of community here at BYU. That is what public relations is all about: empathy, community and understanding. Empathy makes us better communicators. Jesus Christ understands us because He knows what it is like. While we were only given one month to implement our campaign, it was a very meaningful month—we connected with many individuals and grew because of our experiences. While I will never know what it is like to be multicultural or a military brat or third-cultured, I can learn and express empathy, which brings me closer to the Savior as I become more like Him.

Our final report for the contest is due at the end of March when three finalists will be selected to present to the PRSSA Board and Culturs Magazine. While we hope we will be selected as a finalist, this has been a positive experience for all of us, and we are proud of ourselves and grateful for the community we created.