Area students on FHSU's first two teams in PR competition

Six students in two teams from Fort Hays State University competed in the first ever public relations competition at Pittsburg State University April 16 and 17, and one of the teams finished in fourth place.

The team of Natalie Blair, Oakley junior, Kelsey Kennedy, Myrtle Point, OR, junior, and Linda O'Neal, Hays junior, ended only two points out of the finals, in which three teams competed. The University of Northern Alabama finished first, Drury College was second and Arkansas Tech finished third.

The team of Renee Allen, Great Bend senior, Christina Davidson, Claflin senior, and Dane Hernandez, Moscow senior, turned in a respectable first round, but hit a tough set of judges in the second round which knocked them out of the running, said Jennie Straight, assistant professor of communication studies.

FHSU's novice team, the fourth-place finisher overall, was thrown into the open division competition when no other novice teams registered to compete. Novice teams are students who have taken half or less of the course offerings in public relations.

A total of 16 teams competed. In addition to Fort Hays and the top three teams, other schools competing were Central Missouri State, East Central University (OK), Emporia State, Missouri Southern, Northwest Missouri State, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Washburn University and Valparaiso University.

The competition was in two parts: strategic planning and presentation. The students received a packet of information on the client (Ronald McDonald House of Joplin). They then had 31/2 hours to develop a campaign outline and a Power Point for Saturday's rounds. Each team presented twice to three different judges prior to the selection of the top three teams and the final round.

In the presentations, students were evaluated on critical thinking and generation of ideas (25 points); incorporation of survey data (25 points); quality of answers to judge's questions (20 points); presentations skills (15 points); and incorporation of communication/PR/advertising theory (15 points). The data was 12 pages of statistics of various kinds.

Straight accompanied the teams and served as a judge during the first round. Competing schools hope to expand the competition, eventually developing a program similar to that of debate.

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