Students from several universities across Oklahoma recently participated in the Zenith Awards, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
"Basically, it is an effort to recognize the accomplishments of students in Public Relations in the state of Oklahoma," Oklahoma Christian Public Relations Student Society of America chapter president Alison Roberts said. "You gather the work, turn it in with an entry fee and judges choose the one they like." Students submit their projects into several different categories, including: public relations writing, publications and multi-media. The students can participate in the group or individual competitions.
"It is an opportunity for students to interact with professionals in Oklahoma City," Roberts said. "The professionals in a lot of different practices, not just PR, are dedicated to making sure students have access to resources that they can provide." Richard Graham, Brittany Meredith, Kimberlee Rhodes, Wendy Sanders and Rachel Yeakley won second place in their category for their participation in the group campaign.
"It was a class project campaign that included billboards, advertising and PR related items; it had all the elements," Meredith said. "We submitted because we were really proud of what we did and were surprised that we got second place."
The university competed alongside the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oral Roberts University, involving more than 100 students comprising 74 entries in the competition, according to a press release.
"Most everyone submitted something from a class, but the one I turned in was from an internship," Roberts said. "I submitted an article that was printed in the Oklahoman for the tourism and recreation department."
Kristin Cumbie, Brad Hurd, Jacey Jacobs and Roberts won in several public relation writing categories for the individual competition.
"It is a wonderful resume builder because it not only shows that you have a skill that other people recognize, but it also shows that you're active in furthering your career," Meredith said.
Participating in this event enhances the view of potential graduate schools and employers to the commitment of the individual.
"It gives the students that want to go into the field of PR a chance to actually show their work," Meredith said. "The people who judge and see the work are professionals in the PR field. They tell you what you need to work on and give you encouragement."
This honor not only reflects the potential and talent of the individual student but their respective university as well.
"Companies and graduate schools look favorably upon these projects because they actually look at your campaign as something real," Meredith said. "They really want to see what you can do and say that this actually won an award statewide. Then they look at it a little more seriously, and they can think, 'Well, this person can contribute to our agency, and hopefully win us an award later on.'"
The competition gives students a feel for the professional market, and professors encourage students to participate in order to gain more real world experience.
"If you do not have the skills to use the better programs, then your publications can be more on the 'amateur' side," Cumbie said. "It was a pleasant surprise to know that the creativity and design I put into it was capable of first place and has greatly improved my outlook."
Anyone can participate in the competition. A person only needs to submit an article to the Zenith awards sponsors along with an entry fee.
"I'm just really proud that we had so many people place," Roberts said. "For our school to have so many people recognized for quality work, it really speaks to the quality of students we have here."