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PSU students shine in Oklahoma PR competition

September 19, 2011 12:00AM

Several Pittsburg State University students helped their teams take the top three spots in the public relations competition at the Oklahoma Speech Theater Communication Association (OSTCA) conference in Oklahoma City recently.

In addition to sweeping the PR competition, PSU students Jason Manhke and Rodney Kimlin also scored a first place for a poster that featured applied academic undergraduate research.

"This year the conference organizers changed the competition format, which made the event a bit more challenging," said Alicia M. Mason, assistant professor in the Department of Communication. "Instead of sending teams of students to represent the university, the students were divided into groups of 3-4 intercollegiate teams, who worked together on behalf of the client."

The client this year was Big Truck Tacos, which was recently featured on the Food Network. Students were briefed on the client, and given just a few hours to construct and present promotional campaign solutions and strategies.

Nadia Marji, a senior communications major from Merriam, Kan., said she was excited about competing against students from other universities.

"I was ready to see just where I stood against other students in my field of study," Marji said.

Kasey Hockman, another competitor from PSU, credited preparation for their success.

"We were well prepared and received multiple compliments on our presentation skills, and the ideas we presented to our peers and the judges," said Hockman, a senior communications major from Diamond, Mo. "Pitt should be proud of the Communication Department and the great success we had, no other school was represented in each of the top three spots."

Mason said the competition challenged the students in new ways.

"The competition forced these students to apply everything in their education so far," Mason said, "from their introductory PR knowledge and persuasive public speaking abilities, to small group (conflict resolution and negotiation) skills, interpersonal (leadership and relationship) skills, and professional presentation skills. Students were expected to do all of this within a strategic planning framework designed and tailored to meet the needs of the client."

Seven students represented PSU in the competition:

Katie Casterline, senior, Overland Park, Kan.

Daniel Kilby, senior, McPherson, Kan.

Thomas Gregory, senior, Fort Scott, Kan.

Nadia Marji, senior, Merriam, Kan. (1st place PR)

Kasey Hockman, senior, Diamond, Mo. (2nd place PR)

Jason Mahnke, senior, Council Bluffs, Iowa (1st place Poster)

Rodney Kimlin, graduate student, Pleasanton, Kan. (3rd place PR, 1st place Poster)

©2011 Pittsburg State University