Fort Hays State University public relations students placed second this year at the second annual Mid-America Public Relations Competition April 15-16 at Pittsburg State University.
" The students did an outstanding job of representing the university," said Jennie Straight, assistant professor of communication studies and team sponsor.
The team, returning from last year, also brought home "a handsome plaque and a $250 scholarship for the Communication Studies Department," said Straight.
First place went to the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Kelsey Kennedy, Myrtle Point, OR, senior, Natalie Blair, Oakley junior, and Linda O'Neal, Hays senior, earned second place in the campaigns division and the team of Kathryn Mayes, Abilene senior, Katie Beamer, Mulvane senior, and Holly Stephens, Goodland senior, earned honorable mention in the campaigns division.
The novice team received an honorable mention, and the two individuals in the crisis news conference division -- Maria Ruda, Pratt junior and Amy Smith, Bertrand sophomore -- placed fifth and sixth respectively.
" Maria and Amy were grilled during the crisis competition by a panel of journalists who showed no mercy," said Straight. "Both young women handled the questions without getting flustered."
The students competed with schools from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri and Alabama.
" The campaign event is an intense competition with students spending three hours on Friday afternoon developing goals, strategies and tactics from information provided by the client," said Straight.
The crisis news conference was new this year. In that competition, the students draw a case study and then have 30 minutes to prepare for a news conference. The students competed in two rounds with a different case in each round. The top three individuals advanced into finals.
The other category involves developing a campaign for an actual organization and then presenting twice in preliminary rounds before a panel of faculty and practitioners. This year the client was Wal-Mart and the students had to develop a campaign to dispel myths circulating about the organization. Students are judged on critical thinking and idea generation, presentation, incorporation of communication theory and research evaluation methods.
Five of the 14 teams advanced into finals. The judges in the final round included Sharon Weber, the corporate communication manager for Wal-Mart; Dr. Douglas Newsom, a public relations scholar with four books to his credit; and Dr. John Madsen, associate professor emeritus of business and corporate communication at Buena Vista University.
" Let me say this was a stiff group to face, but our students met the challenge," said Straight.