Arthur W. Page Society

USC Annenberg Student Takes Top Honors at Page Society’s 2013 Corporate Communications Case Study Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: University of Southern California, Annenberg School Student Takes Top Honors at Arthur W. Page Society’s 2013 Corporate Communications Case Study Competition

NEW YORK, NY, April 4, 2013: A case study examining how JetBlue’s communications department manages high-profile crises won the Grand Prize at the Arthur W. Page Society’s 2013 Case Study Competition, sponsored by the Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR). The competition recognizes students’ exploration of corporate communications as a critical management function.

The entry, “A Crisis out of Thin Air: An Analysis of JetBlue’s Response to a Pilot’s Mid-Flight Breakdown,” written by University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism student Stephen Zelezny, examined how JetBlue’s communications team dealt with the fallout from an incident in which a veteran pilot had a mid-air meltdown while on duty. Looking at the airline’s communication structure, objectives, and strategies during both crises and regular situations, Zelezny provided a complete picture of the company’s communications philosophy. He was awarded a $5,000 prize as winner of the competition during the Page Society’s Spring Seminar dinner on April 4, 2013 at The Conrad Hotel in New York City. In addition, Stephen’s faculty advisor Jennifer Floto was recognized at the dinner and received $1,500. Jennifer’s colleague, Jerry Swerling, Page Society member and trustee accepted on her behalf.

In addition to the Grand Prize, four other prizes were awarded: first-, second-, and third-place prizes from communications schools and a first-place prize from a business school. These winning entries were submitted by University of Hartford, McMaster University, Quinnipiac University, and Dartmouth College, respectively. This is the Page Society’s 12th Annual Case Study Competition, designed to strengthen awareness of communication and corporate reputation issues among business, communication, and journalism students.

“Once again, this Case Study Competition reiterates the importance of strong and strategic communications to a company’s reputation and performance,” said Roger Bolton, President of the Arthur W. Page Society. “The JetBlue case study specifically shows not only how a company handles a crisis, but also how the long-term investment in communications by that company plays a role. Congratulations to Stephen and all of the other winners.”

“This year’s winners once again illustrate how research-based communications is imperative to success,” said Frank Ovaitt, President and CEO of IPR. “We’re thankful for the hard work of this year’s winners and appreciate this wonderful resource they have provided PR practitioners.”

A panel of prestigious Page Society member judges, who represent the corporate, agency and academic sectors, selected the winning submissions. All case studies were evaluated on the basis of relevance and timeliness, as well as the significance of the problem and the effective use of the seven Page Principles. The Page Society embraces these as the core principles that guide the actions of public relations practitioners. Further details on the winning case studies can be found on the Case Study page of the Page Society’s website.

Below is the complete list of winners:

Grand Prize Winner Title: A Crisis out of Thin Air: An Analysis of JetBlue’s Response to a Pilot’s Mid-Flight Breakdown

Submitted by: Stephen Zelezny, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Floto

First Prize, Business School Title: Carnival Corporation: The Costa Concordia Crisis

Submitted by: Jonathan J. Gantt, MBA Candidate, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

Faculty Advisor: Paul A. Argenti, MBA

First Prize, Communications School Title: Pink Politics: How Komen’s Planned Parenthood Communications Response Unraveled the Pink Ribbon

Submitted by: Laura Brubaker Crisco, MA Communications Candidate, School of Communication, University of Hartford

Faculty Advisor: Susan Grantham, Ph.D.

Second Prize, Communications School Title: In Charity We Trust? How Allegations of Misspending against the Canadian Cancer Society Serve as a Wake-Up Call for the North American Non-Profit Sector

Submitted by: Christine Szustaczek, MA Communications Management Candidate, Faculty of Humanities, McMaster University

Faculty Advisor: Larry Mussio, Ph.D.

Third Prize, Communications School Title: Sprinting From Sandy: The Public Relations Storm Surrounding New York Road Runners and the Cancellation of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon

Submitted by: Theodora (Teddy) Spicer, MS Communication Candidate, School of Communications, Quinnipiac University

Faculty Advisor: Alexander Laskin, Ph.D.

About the Arthur W. Page Society

The Arthur W. Page Society is a select membership organization for senior public relations and corporate communications executives who seek to enrich and strengthen their profession. Membership consists primarily of chief communications officers of Fortune 500 corporations, the CEOs of the world’s largest public relations agencies and leading academics from the nation’s top business and communications schools. The Page Society’s ultimate goal is to strengthen the enterprise leadership role of the chief communications officer. For more information please visit

About the Institute for Public Relations

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™ and focused on research that is applicable in communications practice. Its research is available free at and provides the basis for the organization’s professional conferences and events.

Media contact:

Susan Chin
Arthur W. Page Society
212-400-7959 x100

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