UWF public relations students win top FPRA state award

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

Ten public relations students from the University of West Florida were recently honored with a Golden Image Award and a Grand All Golden Image Award from the Florida Public Relations Association for their rebranding campaign for the Imogene Theatre in Milton.

The awards were presented at the 2014 Golden Image Awards Gala on Aug. 12 in Orlando, Fla. The annual competition recognizes outstanding public relations programs in Florida to encourage and promote the development of public relations professionalism in the state.

The students were a part of the PR Campaigns class, led by instructor Eileen Perrigo, APR. The class, also known as Wellspring PR, provides students with a simulated agency experience as they compile an extensive public relations campaign for a local nonprofit 501©(3) organization.

“It was a pleasure to work with 10 talented UWF public relations seniors to create a campaign to rebrand the Imogene,” Perrigo said. “Working in tandem for 15 weeks with the client, the students realized the value of teamwork, deadlines and strategic thinking. Receiving the state awards demonstrates their competitiveness in the PR field.”

The students involved in the Spring 2014 Campaigns class include: Joe Napier, executive director; Gabrielle Garrett, research director; Zachary Farrington, creative director; Hannah Weinstein, social media director; Brittany Blackburn, PR specialist; Abbey Lelina, PR specialist; Amber Galligher, PR specialist; Betsy Paige, PR specialist; Kali Mann, PR specialist; and Mary Hartshorn, PR specialist.

Galligher, a recent graduate, said this project had a significant impact on her education at UWF.

“This was different from anything else I’d done in other classes,” she said. “It wasn’t just a class project that if you get an A or B on you stick on the refrigerator. This will really impact the Imogene and the community. If they start implementing everything we created, it can completely revitalize downtown Milton.”

Farrington, a senior public relations major, was also named the recipient of a $1,500 FPRA scholarship at the awards gala. He said the Campaigns class stands out as one of the most memorable experiences from his time at UWF.

“It was really good to get an idea of what it would be like to work for a real PR agency,” he said. “We were working with real clients who were completely honest about what they liked and disliked. This was my first class where I wasn’t thinking about my grade. Every step of the way I put 110 percent into it, because I wanted to put forth my best work.”

Since the course was created in 2003, UWF students have assisted 12 nonprofit organizations in the Northwest Florida area, including Manna Food Bank, Appetite4Life, Friends of the West Florida Public Library and more. The International Paper Pensacola Mill has underwritten the costs associated with publishing the campaign plan book, research book and media book that are produced as a result of the class since 2010.

For additional information about the Imogene Theatre, visit santarosahistoricalsociety.com.

To learn more about the UWF public relations program, visit uwf.edu/commarts.

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