MA Students in Online Program Receive 2016 AU Public Communication Awards

MA Students in Online Program Receive 2016 AU Public Communication Awards

Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication student Justin Smith took home two awards in American University’s 2016 Public Communication Awards, which honors outstanding achievement by undergraduate and graduate students in AU’s School of Communication.

At the awards ceremony on May 5, Smith was honored for Best Strategic Communication Plan and Best Practicum Campaign. Smith’s projects, completed as part of the Online Master’s in Strategic Communication program, received praise from the public relations and strategic communication firms that review and judge student work for the annual awards ceremony.

“Justin Smith’s plan is the essence of what strategic communication should be,” project sponsor Hager Sharp wrote of Smith’s strategic communication entry. “The plan targeted a very specific audience with a smart strategy and integrated tactics that aligned nicely with realistic objectives.”

“Justin’s research into influencers and their motivations raised the bar,” tweeted Rebecca Ballard of Hill & Knowlton, which sponsored the practicum campaign award.

“Honored to have received two awards at last night’s American University Public Communication Awards,” Smith tweeted. “It was a great evening!”

A Well-Executed Project
Online MA in Strategic Communication student Elizabeth Kinney was honored for Best Graduate Capstone. “The idea of integrating crisis and interpersonal communication research was both interesting and well executed,” faculty judges said of Kinney’s capstone project. “The cases were chosen carefully to address the issue at hand. In addition to the academic merit, the recommendations for practitioners were specific and actionable.”

A Distinguished Paper
Best Graduate Communication Paper went to online Master’s in Strategic Communication student Kayleigh Weaver. “While there were many compelling commentaries, case studies, and strategic plans, one paper stood out above the rest,” said project sponsor Edelman. Kayleigh’s paper “provided an analytical look at how the ALS foundation could continue to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure for ALS after its successful Ice Bucket Challenge. The strategy outlined the different tactics that the foundation could take to make their messages stick through impactful storytelling and action-oriented messages.”

Additional finalists from the online program were Jesse Gunther (Best Digital Campaign), RaeLani Valaile (Best Practicum Campaign), and Jaclyn Welles (Best Graduate Capstone). A full list of the 2016 Public Communication Awards graduate and undergraduate winners is available here.

Now in its ninth year, the AU Public Communication Awards serve as a way to honor outstanding work of our soon-to-be graduates. This year’s awards received a record 138 submissions, and 19 awards were given out.

“AUPC Awards was one of the highlights of my senior year,”tweeted student Gabriella Salazar.

Representing some of the largest communication firms as well as specialty boutique communication firms in Washington, D.C., 13 industry sponsors reviewed and judged student work for the awards program. Sponsoring organizations sent 23 public relations professionals to the awards ceremony to congratulate the students, and 17 of those professionals were AU alumni. Sponsors included Porter Novelli, APCO Worldwide, Hill & Knowlton, Hager Sharp, Ogilvy, Penn Schoen Berland, Engage, White House Writers Group, West Wing Writers, Beekeeper Group, Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Ketchum.

“We find that having sponsors review finalists’ entries is very valuable, because the students’ work is being reviewed by experts in the field and prospective employers,” says Pallavi Damani Kumar, professor and director of AU’s Public Communication Division. “And, what is very exciting is how many current sponsors were previous award winners when they were students. We feel this continues our tradition of celebrating and honoring excellent work in the strategic communication field.”

A Long-Standing Program
AU’s Master’s in Strategic Communication is the longest-standing program of its kind in Washington, D.C. Ranked fourth in the nation as a graduate university for media professionals by LinkedIn, AU’s School of Communication takes advantage of its location in the nation’s capital and faculty with Washington experience to highlight the intersection of political science, public service, and traditional communication and public relations.

Strategic Communication is at the heart of our economy, society and politics. The online MA in Strategic Communication gives students knowledge to tell persuasive stories and create messages that lead to action and leverage the power of new media and technology.

More than 98 percent of master’s degree graduates from AU’s School of Communication report being employed after six months at organizations ranging from Discovery Communication, NPR and Fox News to Oglivy, Microsoft, Reuters and the U.S. Department of State.

For more information, call 855-725-7614 to speak to an admissions representative, or request more information here.