Indiana State University Newsroom

Public relations students' work receives state recognition

May 25, 2010

A group of Indiana State University students have earned an award from an Indiana public relations organization for their efforts to promote the ISU Theater Department's Crossroads Repertory Theatre summer season.

May graduates Bailee Souder, Justin Reynolds and Jordan Toy, and juniors Chelsea Evans and Taylor Schaffer received a Pinnacle Award this month from the Hoosier Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

"The Pinnacle Awards celebrate strong communications programs and projects that have a meaningful impact on driving results for organizations," said Hoosier Chapter President Jamaison Schuler. "Winners don't just receive a trophy, they're also recognized and celebrated by peers as professionals valued by this industry."

Through a spring semester public relations campaigns course with Communication Professor Debra Worley, students worked to help Crossroads determine how to best interact with the public.

Sherry McFadden, interim chairperson for the ISU Theater Department and producing director for Crossroads, said her ultimate goal was to attract more audience members to productions.

"In my first meetings with them I stressed that we wanted to start reaching a younger audience, a more diverse audience, and a wider audience in general," she said.

The students outlined a strategy for Crossroads to grow its audience base primarily through social media. Suggestions included an actors' blog to host weekly updates during the Crossroads season; a revised Web site with an interactive calendar and hotel information; a Twitter page with daily feeds about show information; and a Facebook page to update friends and create blogs about Crossroads events.

McFadden said she was impressed with the students' professional work and their desire to help Crossroads meet its goals.

"These students worked very hard and made presentations that were quite articulate, direct and creative. It is a class that defines experiential learning and community engagement," McFadden said. Their work "would have cost CRT and the department many thousands of dollars if hired out."

Worley said she believes the contemporary communication tools the students employed set their work apart and helped it gain state-level recognition.

"Their plan to use social media to raise awareness is something they did better than any of my other teams this semester," Worley said. "They were very comprehensive in terms of target audiences and strategies."

Worley said the exercise she employs in her 400-level course is a good one for students because it requires them to interact with clients in a way that prepares them for their careers.

Souder, the winning team's leader, agrees.

"This was more than just a student project," she said. "It was good to work with the client through whole process and help them assess their needs and see what they really wanted to do."

"We wanted to help them, but weren't sure they'd implement our plan. From what I've heard, they are implementing it," she said. "For that to have happened, and for us to get statewide recognition, just makes me feel good about the work I'm doing and how it can benefit me in my career."

Writer and contact: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University Communications and Marketing, at 812-237-3790 or