Public Relations Students from UNK Take Top Honors at Mid-America Competition

Dr. Keith Terry
Department of Communications, 308.865.8735

A University of Nebraska at Kearney public relations team took top honors in the second annual Mid-America Public Relations Competition held recently at Pittsburg (Kansas) State College.

The winning team included Brittany Thalls, Kearney; Kelly Hickman, Arcadia; and Lindsay Schluntz, Naponee. They placed first out of 13 teams from eight colleges and universities. Also competing from UNK were second team members Robyn Sanders, Sidney; Tonya Koinzan, Elgin; and Megan Kulhanek, Lexington. Sanders and Kulhanek took part in the crisis management individual competition.

“We had six very strong competitors,” said Dr. Keith Terry, a professor in the UNK Department of Communication. “I am proud of all of them.”

The team competition consisted of creating a public relations campaign for Wal-Mart in three-and-a-half hours.  Three judges, including Sharon Weber from the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., judged preliminary and final rounds.

Dr. Doug Newsom, Texas Christian University professor and former Fulbright lecturer to India and Singapore, was the keynote speaker as well as a judge for the competition.  He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and has a co-authored four textbooks.

“I felt like the experience was very overwhelming,” Hickman said. “In the real world, public relations firms have weeks and months to research, and create public relations plans. We only had three-and-a-half hours, so it was really difficult. The experience will be helpful.”

“Even though my team didn’t win, we were very proud and happy for the other UNK team,” Koinzan said. “This competition was a great learning experience that helped me put into action the education I’ve received at UNK.”