Cronkite PR Lab Students Win Top Awards in International Contest

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021


Students in the Public Relations Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication have won top honors in the international dotCOMM awards, which honor excellence in web creativity and digital communication.

The PR Lab won two gold awards for campaigns developed by students, including one for Sun Devil Athletics at Arizona State University, as well as a platinum award for earned media.

“It’s such a huge honor to win awards for our work this semester,” said senior Ariana Diaz, who worked on several of the projects. “Our entire class put an incredible amount of effort into our projects during the semester, so being recognized for it has been one of the most exciting things to happen to me during my time at Cronkite. I’m sure my peers feel the same.”

One of Diaz’s contributions was an online feature story about women’s basketball head coach Charli Turner-Thorne, one of ASU’s most successful coaches, which won a Gold Award for feature website stories.

The goal was to paint a full picture of one of ASU’s most successful coaches through interviews with those who know her best in a professional capacity – assistant coaches, players and athletic administrators.

“I’m probably the proudest of the Gold award I received for that story,” Diaz said. “I worked incredibly hard on it for a few weeks, setting up interviews, conducting interviews, and doing a ton of research. It was challenging to write a story without talking directly to her, but I’m glad I had that new experience.”

The story was published by ASU Athletics.

The lab won a second Gold Award for interactive brand experience within a digital marketing campaign. Students developed a creative strategy for Taylor Morrison homebuilders to enhance the e-commerce experience for prospective homebuyers despite physical closures due to the pandemic.

Key elements of the campaign included a specialized production platform for showcasing model homes virtually, non-profit components to engage the local communities in these “grand opening” events, and the use of influencers to assist in marketing custom features unique to Taylor Morrison communities. The finished product will allow for a more accessible home buying process during and beyond COVID-19.

The third award, a platinum in earned media, article or news placement, recognized a media pitch for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona on the impact of mentorship.

“The awards showcase the amazing breadth of work the students performed this past semester,” said PR Lab Director Lisa Schmidtke. “The client needs were so very different, but the quality of student work and creativity in their approaches was consistent throughout.”

The dotCOMM Awards is an international competition that recognizes the best in web creativity and digital communication while spotlighting the role of creatives. It is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, one of the largest and oldest evaluators of creative work in the marketing and communications industry.

By Jack Loder