Students take third in TPRA crisis competition

Posted November 22, 2010

Staying cool under pressure is an attribute public relations professionals have to learn. For a group of students from ACU, the trait came through trial by fire during the Texas Public Relations Association’s crisis competition in Austin, Nov. 12. ACU took third place in the news release portion of the competition.

TPRA"Our team performed very well,” says Dave Hogan, instructor of journalism and mass communication at ACU, TPRA board member and chair of the student competition. “Going up against some of the finest collegiate public relations programs in the state, this shows our students can compete with the best. Teams from only three of the six universities won awards, and I'm proud of our students for being named among the winners."

ACU's team included advertising and public relations majors Preston Watkins, junior from Manassas, Va.; Amanda McVey, junior from Round Rock, Texas; Laura Gasvoda, junior from Houston; and William Moore, senior from Arlington, Texas.

ACU competed against seven teams from Baylor University, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University and Texas State University. Baylor’s teams took first and second in both the news release and crisis communication plan portions of the competition.

The teams were given a hypothetical crisis on a university campus and a set amount of time to create a communication plan in response.

"Knowing how to successfully navigate a crisis is a critically important skill for any public relations practitioner,” says Hogan. “Every organization faces a crisis sooner or later, and when it does, the stakes are high. Our students learned skills and techniques that will make them better prepared for their careers and more competitive in the marketplace."

In addition to the competition, TPRA’s Fall Leadership Day featured a program of speakers including: Paul Flaningan, public relations manager at Southwest Airlines; Ewell Smith, executive director of Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board; and Terry Hemeyer, executive counsel at Pierpont Communications, Inc.

Thirteen students from ACU attended the event.

For more information about TPRA, visit