Public Relations students, professor take top honors in state and region
Published: Friday, June 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 16:06
The public relations academic program in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University attained multiple top honors in West Virginia, as well as a six-state region, at the Public Relations Society of America West Virginia chapter’s annual Crystal Awards Gala last week at the Edgewood Country Club in Charleston.
Public relations alumni from Marshall attended the event to accept awards for their work completed when they were students at the university.
“My students’ work on campaigns for a local nonprofit organization was recognized with two first-place state awards and one first-place, six-state regional award,” Terry Hapney, associate professor of public relations, said. “Receiving this type of feedback from public relations professionals allows me to see how well our academic program is doing in its preparation of future public relations practitioners.”
Alumni from the 2012 public relations campaign management class won two first-place Crystal Awards for news releases written for the “Questions” campaign for River Valley Child Development Services. The overall campaign won an honorable mention for a community relations campaign, as well as an honorable mention for a brochure produced as a tactic in the campaign.
The 2011 “Trivia 4 Tots” campaign, executed by the 2011 public relations campaign management class, won a first-place Diamond Award for a community relations campaign from the East Central Division of PRSA, composed of 16 PRSA chapters in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Hapney said this year’s Crystal Awards program had nearly 200 entries, making it one of the largest and most competitive PRSA awards events in the nation. Major public relations and advertising agencies—as well as practitioners in industry, counseling firms, government, associations, hospitals and other organizations—submitted entries for this year’s awards program.
“My students’ work was judged in the exact manner and by the same standards as that of professionals,” Hapney said. “That’s what makes these awards so significant.”
In addition to the five student awards, Hapney was named state Public Relations Educator of the Year, an award presented to a full-time faculty member at a four-year West Virginia college or university for success in preparing future members of the profession.
Kristen Footo, 2011 graduate of the public relations academic program and current event and building operations manager for the Marshall University Foundation, said as a student working on the Diamond Award-winning campaign she remembers taking it very seriously and putting a lot of effort into it.
“I never dreamed we would be as successful as winning a Diamond Award,” Footo said.“It’s a testament not only to our effort, but the program and professors at Marshall University. I’m glad both were recognized with awards.”
Kerissa Bennett, 2011 graduate of the program and assistant general manager of operations in the First Year Residence Halls at Marshall University, said the continuous pattern of recognition by West Virginia’s chapter of PRSA speaks volumes to the standard of excellence instilled in public relations students at Marshall University.
“You are treated as a professional practitioner,” Bennett said. “I believe that real world experience makes an enormous difference in not only the level of preparation of students upon their exit of the program, but also the success of the program itself.”
Leannda Carey, 2013 graduate with a master’s degree in journalism, said she is thrilled that she had the opportunity to be a part of an award-winning campaign.
“We worked our hardest to make sure our campaign was professional, successful and memorable so that it could be carried on without us in the future,” Carey said. “These awards are a wonderful bonus to reaching our goals, pleasing our client and most importantly, helping low-income families afford high-quality child care.”
Libby Clark, 2012 graduate, said it was great not only receiving such prestigious awards but to also be in the running against some great companies and universities for the Crystal Awards.
“It really felt like our hard work as a class and team didn't go unnoticed by our peers,” Clark said. “It was amazing to see what other people had done, and what I have just started doing, side by side.”
Janet Dooley, interim dean in the SOJMC, said it is gratifying to witness the growth of the public relations students, and gaining this kind of recognition from professionals in their field is a good indicator of their progress.
“Their work on service projects garners a good bit of satisfaction in that they contribute to their community, and to have PRSA recognize the effort is icing on the cake,” Dooley said.