MSU marketing units win regional public relations honors

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

MSU’s “We Ring True” branding initiative is among projects that received Lantern Awards during the recent Southern Public Relations Federation annual conference.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—In recognition of outstanding public relations work, Mississippi State University staff members recently garnered high honors in a regional competition.

At the Southern Public Relations Federation’s annual conference in Sandestin, Florida, the university took home a total of 23 awards—six Certificates of Merit, 13 Awards of Excellence, as well as four Lantern Awards, the organization’s top honor.

Projects receiving Lantern Awards include the Office of Public Affairs-produced social media strategy, “We Ring True” branding initiative and “MSU Experience” photo campaign. The MSU Division of Agricultural, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine’s 2015 annual report also received the top honor.

OPA-produced projects receiving SPRF Awards of Excellence include the university’s external communications initiative, employee/internal communication, brand launch event and video, Instagram strategy, and “The Community Behind the Candles” feature story for Alumnus magazine.

MSU’s Twitter strategy, along with the speech given by President Mark E. Keenum during last October’s brand launch campus celebration, received a certificate of merit.

OPA staff members making contributions to these award-winning projects include Sid Salter, MSU chief communications officer and public affairs director; Harriet Laird, associate director; Checky Herrington, marketing research analyst; Jim Laird, research and executive support editor; Heather M. Rowe, digital design editor; Susan Lassetter, publications editor; Erin Brown, marketing and communications coordinator; Chase Neal, social media specialist; writers Allison Matthews, James Carskadon, Sammy McDavid and Sasha Steinberg; photographers Megan Bean, Russ Houston and Beth Wynn; graphic designers Eric Abbott, Hayley Gilmore and Tim Myers; Nick Wilson, information technology coordinator; and office manager Courtney Honnoll.

Other contributors included Anthony Craven, manager of MSU’s noncommercial, community radio station WMSV 91.1 FM, and David Garraway, University Television Center director.

Located in the Bost Extension Center, the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications (OAC) also received numerous awards in the regional competition. They include:

—Award of Excellence for the Oct. 30, 2015 episode of “Farmweek,” the state’s oldest and only locally-produced agricultural television news show that broadcasts statewide year-round on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Project leaders include OAC senior extension associates Leighton Spann, Artis Ford, Tim Allison, Brian Utley, extension associates Amy Taylor and Jonathan Parrish, associate extension/research professor Gary Bachman, extension agent Natasha Haynes, media relations manager Keri Collins Lewis, social media strategist Ellen Graves and video producer Zac Ashmore.

—Award of Excellence for the “Bite Back, Mississippi: Fire Ant Control” campaign. In addition to OAC department head Elizabeth Gregory North and colleagues Ashmore, Lewis, Spann and Utley, project contributors include senior extension associates Bonnie Coblentz and Linda Breazeale, assistant extension professors Jessica Tegt and John Long, news writer Nathan Gregory, extension associates Susan Collins-Smith and Kat Lawrence, extension professor Blake Layton, photographer Kevin Hudson and web communications designer Beth Barron.

—Award of Excellence for the MSU Extension Service’s “Extension Matters” magazine. Project contributors are marketing and communications coordinator Leah Barbour and graphic designer Phillip Smith, with Hudson and North.

—Certificate of Merit for the “Sweeter in Mississippi: The SunBelt Ag Expo Experience” campaign. Team members include Ashmore, Barron, Ford, Lawrence, Lewis, North, Smith and Spann, and as well as graphic designers Gina Daly and Kim Trimm, news writer Bonnie Coblentz, MSU Extension professor Bob Brzuszek, with Barbara Carver, Bobby Collier and Arvis Stroud.

Others from MSU receiving SPRF honors include:

—The Agriculture and Natural Resources Marketing Team, Award of Excellence for the MSU College of Forest Resources and College and Agriculture and Life Sciences recruiting campaign; Certificate of Merit for the “College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Influence” magazine; and Award of Excellence and Certificate of Merit for the “Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Discovers” magazine and website, respectively. Team members include marketing coordinator Karen Brasher, writers Vanessa Beeson and Sarah Buckleitner, graphic designers David Ammon and Dominique Belcher, and web designers Stephen Caples and Chase Shaw.

—High Performance Computing Collaboratory Publications Group, Certificate of Merit for “The FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS Research, ASSURE, the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence;” Award of Excellence for the HPC2 SC2015 Conference Booth; and Award of Excellence for Geosystems Research Institute’s annual report. Team members include Diane Godwin, publications manager; Bethany Stroud, graphic designer; Cliff Abbott, senior web developer; and Robbyn Weaver, graphic design intern.

Founded in 1972, the Southern Public Relations Federation is the umbrella organization for the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, Public Relations Council of Alabama, Public Relations Association of Louisiana and Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization. For more, visit

For more on MSU’s Office of Public Affairs, visit; Office of Agricultural Communications,; MSU Extension Service,; and High Performance Computing Collaboratory,

The Ag and Natural Resources Marketing Team markets programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,; College of Forest Resources,; Forest and Wildlife Research Center,; and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station,

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 12:42 pm