At the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) conference held this past weekend in Philadelphia, Belmont’s chapter won three national awards, taking home top honors in two categories and third place in another. Of the 285 chapters at colleges and universities nationwide, Belmont was selected for the Chapter Development Award and the Outstanding PRSA/PRSSA Chapter Relationship Award, winning a total of $1,100 in addition to an engraved bell and the presentation of two plaques.
Dr. Bonnie Riechert, assistant professor in the Communications Studies Department, serves as the group’s faculty adviser. Riechert, who was also admitted to PRSA College of Fellows (to see story, click here), said, “The national awards our student chapter received recognize the effective student leadership and overall program excellence. Our chapter is noted for its championship of ethics, its support and involvement from area professionals and its unique sense of community, extending to chapter members even beyond graduation.”
Pam Parry, associate professor and director of the public relations program, founded Belmont’s PRSSA chapter, which received its charter in July 2005. Parry said, “To have an objective panel of judges deem your PRSSA chapter as the best in the country is an amazing compliment. To have it happen twice in one year is almost surreal. I could not be more proud of Dr. Bonnie Riechert and her work with our PRSSA Chapter. She and the students have surpassed my exceedingly high expectations, moving the bar even higher.”
Junior Hillary Bond, the Belmont PRSSA chapter historian, added, “These awards have excited us, but have also made us aware of the type of chapter we are and who we will strive to be in the future. It’s a huge plus to bring back three awards, but for me, the most satisfying aspect of the conference was representing Belmont’s PRSSA chapter while making new friends and gaining important information on the public relations industry.”
The Belmont chapter also took third place honors in The Betsy Plank Ethics Advocacy Award category for its September Ethics Week event, marking the second consecutive year to place in this category. In addition to the chapter awards, Dr. Riechert was inducted as a PRSSA Fellow, a lifetime achievement award given to only two percent of PRSA members. Also, graduating senior Lisa Bates received two awards, a Gold Key award for student leadership in PRSSA and a Presidential Citation for outstanding service in the PRSSA and the Public Relations program.
The Chapter Development category, open to chapters with fewer than 20 members or those who have had a PRSSA charter for no more than three years, considers chapter newsletters, membership drives, fundraisers, relationships with PRSA chapters and members, public relations publications, and overall membership involvement. Entries are judged for exceptional effort and creativity.
This Outstanding PRSA/PRSSA Chapter Relationship category recognizes the strong relationship between the PRSSA chapter and its sponsoring PRSA chapter. Criteria includes programs that encourage interaction (speeches, meetings) between members of the chapters; attendance and assistance by PRSSA members at PRSA chapter events; special support of the PRSSA chapter and its members by the PRSA chapter; internships; professional advisory councils and committees; joint seminars; sharing of PRSSA chapter newsletter and other information with PRSA chapter members; awards and recognition given by the PRSA chapter/members or the PRSSA chapter/members to one another for outstanding performance. Past winners of this award include Ohio University, Kent State University and Ball State University.