Students posing for a portrait.
Agency students Nyesha Cooper, Sara Mohamad, Elizabeth Armstead, Christopher Rasnick, Erin Ward, Calen McCarthy and George Crew pose for a team photo in February outside the Robertson School. (Courtesy photo)

VCU public relations students win community award for their work with local foundation

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A team of students in the VCU Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture’s Agency course won the Community Impact Award at the 73rd annual Virginia Public Relations Awards on Tuesday. The award was announced during a virtual ceremony on Facebook. The submission, “Empowering Moms to Move Forward,” is the product of Agency students Elizabeth Armstead, Nyesha Cooper, George Crew, Calen McCarthy, Sara Mohamed, Christopher Rasnick and Erin Ward.

Agency is a senior-level capstone undergraduate course that provides public relations and community support to Richmond-area organizations. The VCU team worked over the semester to assist their client, the Forward Foundation, with a communication and branding strategy.

“The campaign focuses on helping a local nonprofit stimulate their donor relations, become a brand leader for their clients, and establish a presence in Central Virginia,” said Rasnick, the project leader. “The project took the form of a media relations crash course and a social media revamp. ... Our team also provided extensive primary and secondary research on Forward Foundation's clients and donors.”

Chet Wade, an adjunct faculty member and Robertson School advisory board chair, teaches the course and worked with the students to help guide and direct them toward a final product.

“These students worked tirelessly and drew on everything they learned at the Robertson School to develop a comprehensive campaign of the highest professional quality,” said Wade. “Their efforts speak well of their future as public relations professionals.”

The Community Impact Award is part of the student awards category of the Virginia Public Relations  Awards, hosted by the Richmond Chapter The award recognizes student public relations work that directly impacts a real nonprofit organization. Submissions identify the organization’s PR problem or opportunity, the strategic process and the impact upon completion.

Along with the VCU student winners, James Madison University students took home the Innovation Award for their submission, “JMU 1 For All.”

This is the second award for Agency, and the third win for the school’s PR sequence. Last year students were recognized in the same category for work with the Chesterfield County Police Department and in the Innovation category for a campaign assisting Ram Pantry, VCU’s student-run emergency food bank.

Since its launch in 2017, Agency has received recognition for work benefiting the community and has been recognized by the VCU Office of the Provost as a REAL initiative.