Public relations students at the West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism are creating a culture of high expectations among their peers. Students in one of the program’s capstone classes and members of the WVU Public Relations Student Society of America won three top awards from the West Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

At the West Virginia PRSA Chapter Crystal Awards Gala on June 19, WVU PRSSA won a Crystal Award for Outstanding PRSSA Chapter. Faculty advisor Dr. Rita Colistra, winner of the 2012 Crystal Award for PR Educator of the Year, leads WVU PRSSA.

“These awards are a true testament of the quality of our program and students,” Colistra said. “They’re not only setting the bar for their peers who will follow in their footsteps, but they’re also earning respect and accolades from industry professionals throughout the state, which may help with future employment opportunities.”

Two of Colistra’s spring 2012 capstone class campaigns also earned Crystal Awards. The “Buy Local” Fairmont campaign won in the Community Relations – Student category. Six public relations seniors worked throughout the spring 2012 semester to raise awareness of the importance and economic value of shopping at local businesses in Fairmont. The campaign used an integrated approach to securing extensive media coverage, executing social media efforts, launching the city’s first Buy Local Day and producing promotional materials with key campaign messages.

The other winning capstone campaign was for the WVU Center for Service and Learning, which earned the award in Social Media – Student category. The student-produced, social media campaign was conducted in Colistra’s public relations campaigns course. Six seniors worked extensively throughout the spring 2012 semester to raise awareness of community service, service learning and the Center in general to improve participation among faculty and students. The campaign utilized platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube.

Colistra says she is delighted to see her students recognized for their hard work.

“These young professionals work tirelessly for their clients,” Colistra said. “This type of recognition is proof that hard work pays off and that our students are capable of producing award-winning work for real-world clients. I’m beaming with pride.”

The Crystal Award is the top prize in each of PRSA’s award categories. To view the complete list of winners, visit



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism

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