UM Students Win Top Award from Southern Public Relations Federation

Lantern Award recognizes It Starts with (Me)ek campaign

A UM journalism school anti-stereotyping campaign won a top award from the Southern Public Relations Federation. Among the 31 students who served on the campaign committee under the leadership of senior lecturer Robin Street (right) are (front row, from left) IMC major Kaitlin Childress, of Brandon, and IMC graduate student Bianca Abney, of Moss Point, and (back row, from left) IMC majors Kendrick Pittman, of Kosciusko, and Zacchaeus McEwen, of McComb, and journalism graduate student Chi Kalu, of Nigeria. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – A campaign created by students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi has won a top award from the Southern Public Relations Federation.

The winning campaign, It Starts with (Me)ek, was created and implemented by a team of 31 students led by senior lecturer Robin Street. It asks students to “just pause” before stereotyping others.

Judges for the competition repeatedly praised the “great job” the team did.

“Our students worked for months to plan and implement all the components of the campaign,” Street said. “They spent every Wednesday night in class and countless additional hours working on their individual tasks and assignments.

“I was so proud to see all their hard work and true dedication be recognized.”

The award, called a Lantern, was presented in the internal communications category at the Southern Public Relations Federation conference held Sept. 26 in Tupelo. Awards are presented at three levels in multiple categories, with the Lantern being the highest level of category award.

It Starts with (Me)ek was a week of speakers, programs and communications encouraging inclusion and respect while rejecting based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, mental health, religion or other factors. Ole Miss alumnus Shepard Smith spoke at two of the events.

Student committee members enrolled in an integrated marketing communications course created the campaign. They planned events, videos, communications, competitions and social media posts.

Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and assistant professor, directs the IMC program at the school and attended the awards ceremony along with Street and several of the students.

“Our student team entered in the professional category,” Fiene said. “So they were judged, not by student criteria, but by professional standards. I noticed that they were the only students to win a professional award that night.

“The award exemplifies how well all our faculty prepare our students for their careers in journalism, public relations and integrated marketing communications.”

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