Journalism Faculty, Staff and Students Win Top PRAM Awards

2012 Prism Awards

Among the winners of 2012 PRism Awards are (front row, left) Casey Rains of Pinckneyville, Ill., UM journalism instructor Robin Street, Caitlin Adams of Columbia, Mo., and (back row) UM videographer Mykki Newton, Kristie Warino of Kiln, Caroline Coulter of St. Louis and Ashley Lance of Franklin, Tenn. Photo by Stan O'Dell.

OXFORD, Miss. – Seven students from the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media recently won top awards at the annual Public Relations Association of Mississippi conference in Columbus, and their instructor won the top two honors in the show.

“I was so proud of these students because this was a professional competition, not a student one,” said Robin Street, lecturer in journalism and public relations. “The students were judged with the same criteria as the professionals.”

PRAM awards are given for public relations work in 25 categories. Judges select the best work of all the categories for the “Best in Show” award. They also select a favorite entry from all category winners for the “Judge’s Choice” award.

Street won big at the conference, taking home both Best in Show and Judges’ Choice awards. The Diversity Rocks campaign she and her students produced won Best in Show, and a media kit she created won Judges’ Choice. It was the first time anyone has won both top awards in the competition.

“For Robin to win the Judges’ Choice award and the Best of Show award, for two separate entries, is truly unprecedented,” said Matt Ginn, PRAM vice president for awards. “Those accomplishments show that she practices what she teaches and reinforces to her students the quality of the education they are receiving from her classes.”

Kristie Warino, a senior journalism major from Kiln, brought home a $1,000 award for PRAM Student of the Year. The award is given annually to a student nominated by his or her PR instructor for exceptional performance in and out of the classroom.

“I am so honored to have been named PRAM Student of the Year,” Warino said. “It truly shows that hard work and dedication pays off.”

Patrice S. Guilfoyle, PRAM’s vice president for student services, was impressed with Warino’s resume.

“We had some extraordinary students to apply for the scholarship this year, which made the task of the scholarship committee quite challenging,” Guilfoyle said. “We decided that Kristie possessed all the qualities for a rising star in the field of public relations.”

In each category, the top award is called a PRism, followed by an Award of Excellence and then a Certificate of Achievement. Street also won three PRisms in the categories of campaigns, media kits and internal publications. She and Mykki Newton, videographer for the School of Journalism, won an Award of Excellence for the public service announcements they produced for the Diversity Rocks campaign.

Casey Rains of Pinckneyville, Ill.; Betsy Jones of Macon, Ga.; Ashley Lance of Franklin, Tenn.; and Caitlin Adams of Columbia, Mo. won Awards of Excellence for the PR campaigns they created as class projects. Warino; Caroline Coulter of St. Louis; and Mary Coker of Blue Springs won Certificates of Achievement for their campaigns.

“Through the PRism awards program, the work provided by the students from the University of Mississippi was evaluated and judged together with professional campaigns from public relations practitioners across the state of Mississippi,” Ginn said. “So for the students to win awards alongside PR professionals, it is a true testament to the work they have prepared and the skills they are learning in their classes.”

Tom Eppes, chief communications officer at Ole Miss, was a presenter at the conference, as was Street. Eppes spoke on “Building Trust in a World of Cynicism” and Street discussed “Developing a PR Plan.”

PRAM has nearly 600 members, ranging from students majoring in public relations to professionals working in corporations, government, not-for-profits and agencies.

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, go to