Oct. 26, 2022  

SPJ Florida puts MBA students through press conference during “corporate crisis”

From left, Wilkine Brutus, Riley Kaminer, Christiana Lilly, Stephen Feller and Brian Ballou.

A hurricane has torn through a Caribbean island, nearly destroying an international medical school. How will administrators get the students back home safely?

This was a scenario that played at the University’s of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School. MBA students were thrown into the made-up crisis during the Miami Leadership Challenge on Oct. 22, and it all lead up to the final gauntlet: meeting the press.

SPJ Florida organized a mock press conference for the three remaining “corporate teams,” drilling them for information from the disaster as well as information provided to the journalists ahead of time. One participating jorunalit also asked questions in Spanish to test the teams’ ability to handle bilingual media.

The teams were judged by the college to determine who won the entire competition based on their ability to handle the many stressful situations thrown at them over the weekend.

“SPJ played a critical role during the final round of competition,” said Dr. Marina McCarthy, an assistant professor at the UM Herbert Business School. “The journalists staged a mock-press conference to challenge students with tough questions and create pressure of having to think on their feet. The press members were instrumental in creating an invaluable experience of real-life interaction with press representatives.”

The group of five reporters were: Brian Ballou, formerly of the Boston Globe and Sun Sentinel; Wilkin Brutus of WLRN; Stephen Feller of Helio; Riley Kaminer, a freelance tech journalist; and Christiana Lilly, a freelance reporter. After the mock press conferences, they were able to provide feedback to the students. Ballou, who is now a PIO for Miami-Dade Police, was able to share his tips as someone who has both been in the media as well as before it in a crisis.

This is the first time that the Miami Leadership Challenge has taken place since COVID, and SPJ Florida was glad to be able to once again participate with the future entrepreneurs.


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