Students earn professional awards for nonprofit work

Two sections of Marshall University Public Relations Campaign Management classes took home four first-place Crystal Awards from the Public Relations Society of America-West Virginia Chapter at the PRSA-W.Va. Gala June 14 at the Culture Center in Charleston.

Three of the Crystal Awards were for the Ronald McDonald House campaign researched, planned, executed, and evaluated by Stone Communications—a group of public relations seniors and graduate students in Marshall’s Public Relations program during spring 2016. One Crystal was for the Recovery Point campaign carried out by another section of undergraduate and graduate students in the program.

The Crystal Awards are professional awards, for which judging is conducted by a PRSA chapter in another state. PRSA awards competitions do not give awards in all categories unless an entry attains a certain level of points, per the PRSA judging rubric.

Accepting the awards on behalf of the program were alumna Clara Maynard of the Ronald McDonald House campaign and alumna Leah Cook of the Recovery Point campaign. Both Maynard and Cook were integral parts of the public relations campaigns carried out for nonprofit organizations, according to Dr. Terry L. Hapney Jr., associate professor of public relations and coordinator of the public relations academic program at Marshall University.

“I could not be prouder of these two groups of, then, students and now alumni,” Hapney said. “The Public Relations Society of America is the pre-eminent scholarly and professional organization for our discipline–public relations. This ‘stamp of approval’ by PRSA lets me know that our program is doing what it needs to do to prepare tomorrow’s strategic communications professionals.”

Maynard, who graduated from the program this year, believes the accolades prove that her class produced work on the same level as professionals.

“For me personally, I think this will give me an advantage when starting my career, because I can say I have worked for an award-winning campaign, which is not an advantage that every PR program gives its students,” Maynard said. “Marshall is unique because our students do get that opportunity regularly.”

A 2016 graduate, Cook said the project led to her full-time position in development for Recovery Point. “Now I get to see people’s lives changed every day,” Cook said. “It just goes to show the opportunities that become available through Marshall and specifically the PR program.”

Students in Marshall’s Public Relations program have earned 55 state and regional awards since 2009.

For more information about the program, contact Hapney at or visit


PR_CrystalAwards_2017.jpg: Marshall University alumnae Clara Maynard (left) and Leah Cook accepted the four Crystal Awards awarded to the university’s Public Relations program over the 2016-2017 academic year.