Team earns spot among PR pros as finalist for Silver Anvil award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A group of students in a 400-level communications class was selected as a finalist for the Silver Anvil Award -- the most prestigious award in public relations, presented annually by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

The students, members of COMM 473 Public Relations Campaigns taught by Marcia DiStaso, created campaigns for 11 different banks in State College. The campaigns were designed to heighten awareness of community activity by the banks, and promote higher levels of confidence and trust in the institutions.

“One of my research agendas focuses on the banking industry. I’m also chair of the PRSA Financial Communications Section and do consulting for banks and social media,” said DiStaso, an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations. “I was on a national committee for PRSA where we were looking at improving trust in banking in the United States.

“The committee discontinued before we really did much, but it got me thinking about what I could do here in State College. So, for COMM 473, we made the banks a focus of our work -- and the students really did a great job.”

Throughout the spring semester, the 27 students in class worked in small groups to promote events for each of the 11 banks. Those events included a collection for a women’s shelter by Citizen’s Bank, an interactive lesson on saving for third-grade students by First National Bank and a circus-themed event with more than 250 attendees by Jersey Shore State Bank.

As part of giving the assignment additional real-life meaning, DiStaso made sure students created a baseline and then measured their results.

The campaigns produced a 6.8 percent increase in trust in banks, a 12.2 percent increase in confidence in banks and a 14.7 percent increase in awareness of community service activities by banks.

In the competition for PR professionals, DiStaso and the students were competing with 847 entries just to become a finalist for the award, which will be presented in mid-June in New York City.

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Last Updated June 05, 2013