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Delta Dental leads conversation around civility; invests in future talent

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Delta Dental has been leading in the conversation around civility, and this year was the sponsor of PRSSA’s Bateman Case Study Competition. Hear from Samantha Troisi and how her team used creative problem solving, bilingual skills, improvisation and business partnerships to take home the grand prize.


Samantha Troisi

Delta Dental has been leading in the conversation around civility, and this year was the sponsor for the Bateman Case Study Competition put on by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

The competition is the premier national case study competition for public relations students, giving them the opportunity to apply their education and internship experiences to implement a full PR campaign centered around civility.

Hear from Samantha Troisi, a student from the winning team at California State University, Long Beach. She discusses how her team used creative problem solving, bilingual skills, improvisation and business partnerships to take home the grand prize.

Talk about your civility campaign and why this was so personal for you and your classmates?

CivilityLB was truly created from a place of need. The impact of incivility is far-reaching, and we learned very quickly that our families and friends often experienced it in their daily lives. We learned of torn families and rescinded invitations to holidays, racial microaggressions in the workplace and online bullying between friends. We knew then that the last several years, and the growing problem of incivility, had impacted all of our lives and relationships in a major way, and we wanted to do something about it.

Our research indicated a major point of consensus in our community – listening to other opinions is the key to restoring civility in public discourse. We adopted this unifying idea into a catchy, memorable slogan: “From Another Point of View.” This phrase remained the anchor of our campaign from start to finish.

How did you engage the business community?

One of our key messages was that businesses, nonprofits, and other community organizations have an obligation to improve civility.

At a local level, we teamed up with coffee shops known for community outreach and held a Pay It Forward event that was designed to bring foot traffic to struggling local businesses who aligned with our cause. We leveraged these partnerships to promote our pledge, provide resources like the Communication Toolbox and to start conversations about civility and kindness in our community.

We held roundtable discussions focused on corporate responsibility featuring prominent business professionals to discuss the responsibility they have to improve civility for a healthier workplace and society.

Why is it important for your generation and younger to start learning about this concept from an early age?

Teaching respect and kindness, the root of civility, absolutely starts young. Throughout this campaign we realized most of the disconnect between people came from a lack of respect or understanding. Teaching children that being different is OK and that we need to celebrate and respect each other would go a long way in improving civility for the future. It’s truly the job of parents and educators to teach children to express themselves and communicate with kindness. That’s why we wrote our children’s book, “Michael and Mia Save Meanville” to show how small acts of kindness can bring children a sense of belonging and help promote the understanding of civility and respect.

What did you find were some of the barriers to folks being civil with one another?

We were shocked to see that more than 80% of people admitted to contributing to incivility in some way. It takes quite a bit of self-realization to admit that you might actually be part of the problem. We really had to take a step back and find ways to show that we all have an individual responsibility to be better.

What were the biggest takeaways?

Fixing the problem of incivility in public discourse doesn’t end here. It’s important to realize that civility doesn’t necessarily mean never arguing or never debating important topics. To progress as a society, we need to do those things, but we need to learn to do them productively.

We need to come together and find ways to connect with each other again. We found that people often agreed on most things but traveled different roads to get there. By compromising and seeing other perspectives, or other points of view, we can work toward creating a healthier, more diverse and inclusive society, together.