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American Today

Communications and Media

Companies Sponsor Public Communication Awards

By Mike Unger

Photo of  Doug Wendt, founder and  CEO of Wendt Partners,  and Elizabeth Nicolet, an MA candidate who won the award for best case analysis. <br /><br />

Elizabeth Nicolet, who won the award for best case analysis for her study of the rhetoric of South Park, with conference sponsor Doug Wendt, SOC/MA '07, founder and CEO of Wendt Partners (Photo courtesy SOC)

Updated May 13, 2009. The 16 winners of the 2009 public communication awards walked away with much more than an accolade.

Eight sponsoring companies and two AU sponsors each gave $100 to distribute to every senior and graduate student who won an award. The Public Communication division of the School of Communication wanted to expand its three-year-old awards program and increase students’ contact with outside organizations.

“This allows our students to experience the professional world in yet another way,” said Professor Wendy Melillo, faculty coordinator for the event.

Organizers had no problem rounding up sponsors. In fact, as word about the program began to circulate, companies hoping to get involved started calling SOC, which even had to turn a few down to maintain the intimacy of the event. The invitation-only awards luncheon was held April 29 at De Carlo’s restaurant.
The 10 award sponsors were:

  • Atmosphere BBDO
  • Boeing Company
  • Emanate PR
  • Ericho Communications
  • Hager Sharp
  • MRM Worldwide
  • Wendt Partners
  • Market Research Bureau LLC
  • American University's Center for Teaching Excellence
  • SOC professor Darrell Hayes

Some had representatives at the luncheon, and a few even asked to judge the category whose prize they funded. Students are nominated by their professors, and faculty members serve as judges.

“We wanted to broaden [the program] with some different kinds of shops,” said Melillo. It’s not just PR – it’s advertising, it’s digital, it’s experiential - it’s another way to put SOC students in contact with the professional world, and bring the professional world to us.”

The winners were:

  • Case Analysis: Elizabeth Nicolet
  • Academic Paper: Kathryn Broendel
  • Strategic Communication Plan by a Graduate Student: Megan Witt
  • Strategic Communication Plan by Undergraduate Students: Jess Stone, Maria Piessis and Ami Patel
  • Crisis Communication Paper by a Graduate Student: Jinghe Wang
  • Crisis Communication Plan by an Undergraduate Student: Hilary Richards
  • Digital Campaign: Alyssa Geisler, Corie Hawks, Sarah Blair-Miller and Raiza Castro
  • Research Paper by a Graduate Student: Mark Purdy
  • Research Paper by an Undergraduate Student: Professor Dotty Lynch's class on Special Topics in the 2008 Election: Politics, Polls and the Youth Vote
  • International Public Relations Paper: Andrea Eugenia Pinero Veitia
  • Political Communication Paper by an Undergraduate Student: Sabrina Sussman
  • Visual Strategy: Jake Brus
  • Portfolio Campaign by Undergraduate Students: Professor Puglisi's Public Relations Portfolio class
  • Graduate Capstone Project by a Weekday Program Student (Co-winners): Nina Keim and Socknak Hor
  • Graduate Capstone Project by a Weekend Program Student: Kelly Hannon Morones
  • Contribution to the SOC Community: Scott Colati