Faculty member, students earn award for excellence in public relations

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A College of Communications faculty member and her public relations students earned national recognition for their creativity and innovation from the Public Relations Society of America.

Marcia DiStaso, an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, and students in COMM 473 Public Relations Campaigns were awarded a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for their campaign related to community banks. The award recognizes outstanding strategic public relations planning and implementation and was presented during the PRSA’s Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony in New York City.

“The Award of Excellence recognizes comprehensive strategic public relations programs that are among the very best our profession produces in a given year,” said James J. Roop, chairman of PRSA’s Awards and Honors Committee and president of Roop & Co. in Cleveland. “To receive an Award of Excellence, programs must be of Silver Anvil caliber and represent some of the best thinking and execution.”

DiStaso and members of her class were nominated for a Silver Anvil based on campaigns they created 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.

In the competition for PR professionals, DiStaso and the students were competing with 847 entries just to become a finalist. Competing in the community relations category, the Penn State entry was well received by judges. They said trust and confidence in banks is essential for economic growth and sustainable recovery from the financial crisis. In addition, they said while much work needs to be done globally, the Penn State team successfully improved trust and confidence in State College banks.

The Silver Anvil Awards program, created in 1946, has grown in scope and stature since its inception. Awards are now given in 66 categories and subcategories. In the 60-plus-year history of the Silver Anvils, many organizations have been recognized, including solo practitioners, agencies of all sizes, large and small businesses, top corporations, nonprofits, associations and government agencies.

COMM 473, the capstone course in the public relations major at Penn State, is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop a comprehensive public relations/marketing communications campaign.

Students in the class who earned the Silver Anvil Award of Excellence were: Natalie Buyny, Gettysburg, Pa.; Tyler Changaris, Grafton, Mass.; Christie Damato, Central Islip, N.Y.; Ryan Eng, Staten Island, N.Y.; Danielle Evans, Closter, N.J.; Meghan Foyle, Pittsburgh; Jenna Hackerman, Baltimore; Taylor Havlisch, Jamison, Pa.; Samantha Hershman, Elkins Park, Pa.; Kayla Inserra, Cary, N.C.; Taylor Johnson, New York; Michelle Laporte, Yorktown, N.Y.; Michelle Lawrence, Woodstock, Md.; Amber Liptack, Hershey, Pa.; Taylor McNamara, Bensalem, Pa.; Sara Newell, Erie, Pa.; Jordan Nikolic, Palmyra, Pa.; Morgan Nixon, Columbia, Md.; Emily Pasi, Erie, Pa.; Megan Rhein, New Park, Pa.; Lauren Schultz, Avon, Conn.; Jeanette Silverstein, Waynesboro, Pa.; Tianyi Song, Beijing, China; Shara Swift, Cherry Hill, N.J.; Lindsay Thomas, Maple Glen, Pa.; Sam Underwood, Brick, N.J.; and Rachel Yurchak, Imperial, Pa.

DiStaso joined the communications faculty at Penn State in 2007. She began teaching in 2002 and has more than 10 years of practical experience, including positions in corporate nonprofit and agency public relations.

DiStaso’s research focuses on social media, investor relations and financial communication. She has authored peer-reviewed journal articles, which have been published in the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Journal and Journalism Studies. She has also written many book chapters, has publications available through the Institute for Public Relations, and has presented at national and international conferences.

PRSA is the largest professional organization serving the U.S. public relations community. With a mission to “advance the profession and the professional,” PRSA provides news and information, thought leadership, continuing education and networking opportunities; sets standards of professional excellence and ethical conduct; and advocates for the business value of public relations and greater diversity among public relations professionals. Based in New York, PRSA comprises 112 local chapters, 14 professional interest sections that focus on specific industries and practice areas, and the Public Relations Student Society of America, which is active at more than 320 colleges and universities.

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Last Updated June 21, 2013