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VCU public relations students win awards for innovation, community impact

Two teams of public relations students from the Robertson School of Media and Culture won awards at the 2019 Virginia PR Awards, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America Richmond Chapter.
students from the course MASC 337

The winning student teams from the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences were recognized in two new categories focused on innovative ideas and community impact.

Students from MASC 337, PR Strategy, won the Innovation Award for a campaign book for Ram Pantry, VCU’s student-run emergency food bank. The Innovation Award recognizes imaginative and unique student public relations work that ultimately produced measurable results.

And students in Agency, a senior-level, capstone undergraduate PR course that provides public relations and communications support to Richmond-area organizations, won the Community Impact Award for a campaign for the Chesterfield County Police Department.

The Community Impact Award recognizes student public relations work that directly affects a real nonprofit organization. Submissions needed to identify the organization’s PR problem or opportunity, the strategic process and the impact upon completion.

“The VCU Agency class produces meaningful and professional work that makes a difference for nonprofit clients," said Agency instructor Paula Otto. “The students were thrilled to be a part of the PRSA awards night and were busy sharing across social media all evening. This is a tremendous way to introduce students to award-winning professional work and to let them see how their class work measures up to their student peers.”

Students and their professors were invited to the awards event May 23 in Richmond. The annual event is attended by communication professionals from around the state.  

“The success of our students in these two new categories galvanizes our place as a leader in PR education in Virginia,” said Joshua Smith, instructor of public relations and PR sequence coordinator at the Robertson School. “These students, their professors, and all of us here at the Robertson School should be proud of this accomplishment and continue to do outstanding work.”

The annual PRSA awards recognize outstanding public relations professionals and their work. This year, the program for the first time recognized outstanding PR work completed by groups of students from higher education institutions.

Along with the VCU student winners, James Madison University students also won for their submission, “Harrisonburg Little League First Pitch Meeting.”

To learn more about the public relations sequence, or to become an Agency client, contact

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