Published: May 4, 2018

The “Wolves of Comm Strat” student team took first place at the Final Challenge Competition in their Communication Strategy class May 3. Out of 80 competing teams, these six freshman came up with a winning strategy, and each walked away with a $300 prize.

The Leeds Communications Strategy case competition attracted media coverage earlier in the semester. Fox 31 news interviewed business communications instructor Cory Cunningham on April 5. CBS Channel 4 filmed footage in instructor Jennifer Bone’s classroom for a piece about underserved high school students from Denver KidsTek experiencing a college campus on April 18.

Making a case for prioritizing mental health

Johns Manville (JM) sponsored this year’s live case. In light of the current US opioid epidemic, students were challenged to come up with strategies to increase employee awareness about JM’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides resources and support to JM employees on a wide range of personal and professional issues.

The National Mental Health Innovation Center, which is part of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, facilitated the partnership between Leeds and JM and helped guide the case. This is the fourth time that faculty and NMHIC have partnered on the final challenge competition.

Devising a comprehensive support strategy

The “Wolves of Comm Strat” team presented a short-term, mid-term, and long-term plan. Their short term “Here It’s Different” campaign promoted awareness of the EAP offerings that would appeal to the demographics of the JM workforce. Their mid-term solution focused on fostering community through team-building. Their long-term plan involved promoting customized EAP resources per employee through AI-based recommendation engine technology.

Students were surprised by how much they learned about the impact of mental health on employee performance.. “We talk about mental health as kids in high school, but no one really talks about mental health and how it impacts adults, “said Maria Nenova from the winning team.

Case Competition WinnersThe winning student team was comprised of Diego Daboub, Jack Davern, Jacob Dell’Acqua, Delina Gebrekidan, Matthew Graham, and Maria Nenova.

Bradley Ludwig is a Leeds instructor for Communications Strategy, with an MA and BA in Organizational Communication from Purdue University.