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MHA wins eight statewide public relations awards

Students Cheyenne Oakes and Emma Magruder with PRSA Crystal Awards Students Cheyenne Oakes and Emma Magruder attended the WV PRSA Crystal Awards ceremony to receive the awards on behalf of MHA.

Martin Hall Agency (MHA), a faculty-led, student-run advertising and public relations agency operating in West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media, received eight awards at the West Virginia Public Relations Society of America’s (WV PRSA) 2023 Crystal Awards ceremony Aug. 15 in Charleston.

MHA received six Crystal Awards, the highest honor a public relations campaign can receive, from WV PRSA – four in the Campaigns category and two in the Tactics category. Additionally, they received two Awards of Merit in the Tactics category. Emma Magruder (BSJ, 2022) and Cheyenne Oakes (BSJ, 2023), both of whom are now graduate students in the College’s Integrated Marketing Communications program, represented the agency at the ceremony alongside Advertising and Public Relations (ADPR) Program Chair Geah Pressgrove.

"It was so great to see MHA's work represented alongside work from other agencies in the state,” Magruder said. “We put a lot of time and effort into getting to know our clients and producing meaningful campaigns, so it means a lot that our hard work is recognized for its impact.”

During the fall 2022 semester, MHA teamed with WVU Extension to encourage visits to agritourism destinations across West Virginia and to help agritourism business owners promote one another as part of an established network. The WVU Extension: Cider campaign, which raised awareness about the history of the hard cider industry in West Virginia through community events, social media and video content, won Crystal Awards in the Community Relations and Social Media Video categories. The campaign also won an Award of Merit in the Collateral category.

The WVU Extension: Truly Local campaign won a Crystal Award in the External Communications category and the WVU Extension: Plus One Tourism team won a Crystal Award in the Integrated Communications category for the Meet Me in the Mountain State campaign . MHA also won an Award of Merit for their Agritourism Guide, a map of agritourism destinations in relation to other popular tourist attractions.

“MHA set me up for success by teaching me the fundamentals of real-world public relations work, especially in an agency setting,” said Kennady Armstrong (BSJ, 2022), who worked on the cider campaign and is now an assistant account executive at FleishmanHillard. “I was able to land a position at a global PR firm because of my experience and work in MHA.”

During the spring 2022 semester, MHA students were divided into teams to raise awareness of the First Amendment and issues affecting Morgantown’s unsheltered population. 

The Humans of Morgantown (HoM) campaign, which was funded by a donation from Gil (BSJ, 1975) and Susie Meyer, won a Crystal Award in the Events and Observances (Seven Days or More) category for an art exhibit which featured work by and about unsheltered members of the community. This event was part of a larger, year-long education and awareness campaign produced in collaboration with the Morgantown City Council’s Committee on Unsheltered Homelessness. Part of this campaign also won a Crystal Award in 2022 in the Community Relations category.

The First Amendment campaign won a Crystal Award in the Magazine - Digital category for the 1A Magazine. MHA received a grant from The Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University to raise awareness of the First Amendment at WVU. The goal of the campaign was to show WVU students how their lives might be different without the freedoms protected under the First Amendment. Part of this campaign also won an honorable mention in the Public Service Campaign category in 2022.

“My time in MHA not only gave me the skills to be successful in my career but also opened my eyes to a field that I’m truly passionate about,” said Paige McElroy (BSJ, 2023), who worked on the Plus One Tourism campaign and is now the social media coordinator for the WV Department of Tourism. “I was able to gain real-world experience that I now apply to my professional career. I realized how much I love not only tourism but also advertising and public relations.”  

MHA was established as an extracurricular club in 2011 to provide an opportunity for students to learn skills in strategic communications strategy, positioning and execution for real clients through hands-on experience and is now a formal part of the College of Media’s ADPR curriculum. MHA works with clients to create integrated marketing communications campaigns that have a positive impact on the community.