Although Boston University looks a bit different this year, Terriers all around campus continue to achieve remarkable tasks and titles. Noah Cavicchi, a 2020 M.S. Public Relations Graduate at BU, was the winner of the most recent Arthur W. Page Society’s PR Case Study Competition for the case study he conducted on a Major League Soccer crisis. Below is a conversation with Noah about his experiences and overall journey towards earning first prize in this prestigious competition.
Eliza Shaw: Tell me a little about yourself, where are you from? Why did you choose to study public relations at BU?
Noah Cavicchi: I’m a native New Englander. I was born in Rhode Island but grew up in Massachusetts for most of my life. I chose to study PR at BU due to the faculty, professional connections, and the reputation of the College of Communication. As someone who is fascinated with audience effects and messaging and enjoys thinking strategically I figured it would be a perfect fit.
ES: Can you give a brief explanation of what the Page Society’s PR Case Study Competition is and why you were interested in it?
NC: The Page Society Case Study Competition is an annual contest held by the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional association for PR and communications professionals. Originally, I was tasked with creating a mock submission for my “Contemporary Public Relations” course with BU professor [Dr.] Arunima Krishna. My interest in officially submitting the case study to the Page competition grew as the semester went on, and I became more invested in the topic I was researching.
ES: Your paper and presentation was called “Major League Soccer: Social Consciousness or Social Contentiousness,”… can you explain what you explored and found here?
NC: My paper examined how the business structure of Major League Soccer influenced its communication priorities and strategies during a recent PR crisis involving fan displays and protests against far-right-associated supporters at matches.
Initially, due to the shared-revenue structure of the league, there was no financial urgency for MLS to address these isolated incidents involving these far-right supporters. Fans soon began making signs, bringing in banners, and coordinating mass-protests at matches to voice their displeasure with these far-right associated entities and the lack of response from MLS. In turn, MLS banned many of these protesting fans and clamped down on all fan displays associated with “political language.” This led to a massive public backlash before MLS eventually relented and reversed their position on all fan displays and public expression.
For my own research, I analyzed social media feedback, categorized media responses and coverage, and offered suggestions for future communication initiatives. My findings demonstrated the importance of organizations understanding the macro-environment they operate in and the impacts of brand actions upon all stakeholders. Doing so is crucial for organizations to both anticipate and respond to many crisis-type situations, as well as protect reputation.
ES: What was the process of submitting and presenting your case like?
NC: To be honest, I almost missed the deadline! I had not been checking my email as often as I should have during winter break, but I soon saw that both [Dr.] Krishna and Professor Ray Kotcher had been trying to get in touch with me. BU officially submits only a few case study submissions, and I was lucky enough to have been selected as one of the submissions. I made some revisions to my case and roughly a week later I submitted it online to the Page Society. Presentation-wise, I did not do anything official beyond presenting it in Professor Krishna’s course where I had originally started the case study.
ES: What was your reaction when you found out you won…what feelings overcame you?
NC: I was quite surprised and obviously happy. I was confident in my work of course, but I didn’t think that I would actually place in the competition when I submitted my paper. I found out the result in April, during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown. It definitely brightened my day and was a piece of good news during a bleak period.
ES: Would you recommend current PR students at BU take part in the Page Society’s PR Case Study Competition? If so what tips would you give them?
NC: Yeah, for sure. It’s a great way to demonstrate your research and critical thinking skills on a topic you (hopefully) enjoy. And as a college student, the financial incentive isn’t too bad either. The Page Society is one of the world’s biggest professional associations for communications professionals, so there are a lot of networking opportunities as well.
My biggest tip to interested students is to be open to revision. I couldn’t tell you how many times I thought I had a “finalized” version of my paper before realizing that I could edit it more.
Noah Cavicchi is a model example that with extreme determination and work-ethic, anything is possible. Although Noah originally completed this case study solely for a class, he followed through and not only got his study chosen to be submitted by BU but also came out in first place. For more information on Noah’s case study visit this link.
By Eliza Shaw, Staff Writer
Eliza was born and raised in Westchester County, NY, and traveled a whopping 196 miles to attend Boston University in Boston, MA. She is currently a senior at BU studying Public Relations at the College of Communication. Eliza has worked two consecutive summers as a Social Media intern for ViacomCBS, acted as a blog writer for MediaGirls, and taken on the role of Public Relations Intern at Mystic Sons PR in London. Currently, she works as a Creative at Empath Worldwide, has a Public Relations role at The Center for Information and Systems Engineering at BU, and is a writer for the BU COMmunicator. When Eliza is not working or studying she enjoys being a diehard NY Rangers fan, eating fresh New York bagels, and sipping strong iced coffee! Once Eliza graduates from BU she plans to begin her career in Public Relations and Marketing.