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Cruises, hackers and IPOs: ND MBA teams take top awards in case study competition

by Carol Elliott

March 26, 2012

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Teams of Notre Dame MBA students took first, second and third places in the 2012 Arthur W. Page Society Case-Writing Competition in Corporate Communication, an event judged by some of the top communication officers and academics. 

The annual competition, in its 10th year, 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.

The competition included 46 entries and 18 schools that participated, two of which were international.

The winning University of Notre Dame teams and their cases were:

·        1st Place, Business Category: “Carnival Cruise Lines: Fire Aboard a Stranded Cruise Ship,” submitted by Russell Cramer, Sam DeLemos and Laura Divel. The case presents the crisis management strategy employed by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2010 after an engine room fire stranded the 113,300-ton cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 guests, leaving the vessel powerless 200 miles at sea.

·        2nd Place, Business Category: “Groupon Goes Public:  Communication Strategy and Challenges,” submitted by Jun Frank and Eric Sauerhoff. Daily deals company Groupon’s IPO met with criticism from investors and the media when it was initially filed in June 2011. The case examines what happened after market volatility forced the company to postpone its offering, and Groupon was faced with restoring its credibility with the investor community.

·        3rd Place, “Business Category: Stoppage of Play: The Sony PlayStation Network Crash,” submitted by Xiao-Feng (John) Hsu and Shawn Do. In April 2011, hackers invaded the Sony PlayStation Network, accessing about 77 million user’s personal information, crippling the network, and sending the company’s stock price tumbling. The case considers how the company would resolve the dire situation and how it could patch up the damage to its reputation.

The competition grand prize was awarded to University of Alabama student Jessica Carlton, whose case, “Water on Fire: An Analysis of ExxonMobil’s Communicative Defense of Hydraulic Fracturing,” examined how the energy giant balanced the mounting criticism over fracking with the demand for alternative energy sources.

Entries were judged by a panel of public relations executives and communication faculty. 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.

The Notre Dame winning teams each split a cash prize ($2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place, $800 for third place) and will receive permanent recognition from the Society.  The Arthur W. Page Society is composed of the chief communication officers of the Fortune 500, the CEOs of the largest public relations agencies in the world, and a few select academics (Harvard, Dartmouth, Virginia, Northwestern, UCLA, NYU, and Notre Dame) who write and conduct research in corporate communication.

The prizes were awarded at a gala dinner in the ballroom of the Hyatt Grand Hotel, midtown Manhattan, New York, on March 22, 2012.