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National, regional awards honor UB communicators’ excellence


Published July 12, 2018


UB’s Division of University Communications recently received three national awards — two from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for marketing and social media, and one from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for a special food issue of At Buffalo, the university’s quarterly alumni magazine.

In addition, several communicators from School of Management and School of Public Health and Health Professions, as well as University Communications, were honored during the 29th Excalibur Awards hosted by the PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter.

Members of University Communications and other staff pose for a "selfie" during the awards banquet.

UB communicators ham it up at PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter's Excalibur Awards banquet.

“The PRSA and CASE awards programs are competitive national awards that recognize the very high level of innovative and impactful communication strategies and projects created by whom I regard as among the most talented communications professionals in higher education,” said UB Vice President for Communications Nancy Paton. “Their commitment to excellence has put UB’s communications on the national stage, strengthening awareness and reputation of the university by telling its distinctive story to the world.”

At the national level, UB received two PRSA Bronze Anvil Awards, which recognize the best of the best in public relations tactics that contribute to the success of overall strategic communications programs or campaigns. It’s the second year in a row that UB has been recognized nationally by PRSA for its excellence in communications.

UB was one of just 31 winners from among 500 entries nationwide, and the only higher education institution to receive multiple Bronze Anvil Awards this year. PRSA is the nation’s largest professional organization serving the communications community. This national organization sets the standards of professional excellence and ethical conduct for the fields of strategic communications and public relations.

University Communications received Bronze Anvil Awards in two categories:

Best Use of Branded Content. This award recognized a highly innovative effort by University Communications to introduce prospective students to UB. The project used student-created content from the university’s SnapChat channel to produce a video message highlighting student experiences and achievements as told by UB students. The results were outstanding, exceeding performance benchmarks for impressions and video completion rates. This communications strategy also won a bronze award in Tactics from the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of PRSA as part of the Excalibur Awards.

Award recipients are Elena Conti-Blatto, director of marketing and brand management; Erin Goetz, social media specialist; Devon Jerla, marketing specialist; and Jeff Smith, associate vice president for marketing and digital communications.

Instagram Communications. This award recognized a University Communications project to engage students and young alumni in impactful UB research news reported by University Communications.

“Introducing Instanews: Amplifying Our Research Content With At-A-Glance Storytelling” engages Instagram users via the social media platform’s Instagram Stories feature. UB was among the first higher education institutions to create a video news platform via Instagram. The result was a dramatic increase in views among Instagram followers that normally don’t engage with faculty research stories.

Award recipients are Rebecca Bernstein, director of strategy and digital communications; John DellaContrada, associate vice president for media relations and stakeholder communications; Zoe Deshong, Snap-a-Bull, UB Social Team; Jessica Dirks, Snap-a-Bull, UB Social Team; Goetz; Marcene Robinson, news content manager, University Communications; Kaileigh Saeva, Snap-a-Bull, UB Social Team; Jacob Schupbach, social media specialist; and Smith.

CASE honors At Buffalo’s food issue

University Communications’ third national award came from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). A panel of experts selected At Buffalo’s summer 2017 food-themed edition for the Gold award from among 46 entries in the Special Issues category. UB topped submissions from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Duke University and Florida International University.

The food theme was carried out across every section of the magazine, a feat judges praised. Judges also lauded the design, layout and photography of the food issue.

Published four times a year, At Buffalo is produced by University Communications in collaboration with University Advancement.

Regional PRSA chapter honors UB communicators

At the regional level, 11 UB communicators were honored at the 29th Excalibur Awards, which took place June 27 and were sponsored by the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of PRSA. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from a non-local PRSA chapter.

Marcene Robinson, news content manager in University Communications, received the prestigious Ann R. Carden Rising Star Award, presented to a newcomer to the field who has demonstrated leadership potential early in his or her career. Robinson, who joined University Communications in 2011, leads media relations efforts for the schools of Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as the UB Libraries. He is a member of the Buffalo Niagara PRSA Board of Directors.

Barbara Byers, director of content for University Advancement, received the Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her significant record of service to the local PRSA chapter, of which she has been a member since 1994. In her role at UB, Byers is instrumental in creating and executing strategic communications initiatives aimed at increasing alumni and donor engagement in support of the university and its recently launched “Boldly Buffalo” capital campaign.

The School of Management took home platinum honors — the chapter’s most coveted awards of the night — for having the highest scoring entries in both Campaigns and Tactics.

“Social Media Evolved” won platinum in Campaigns and, earlier in the evening, was awarded gold in the Social Media Strategy subcategory.

“Two-Minute Tuesdays: Game-Changing Research from the University at Buffalo School of Management” was awarded platinum in Tactics and gold in the subcategory of Online Communication earlier in the program.

Receiving both platinum awards were Kevin Manne, assistant director of communications; Jacqueline Ghosen, assistant dean and director of communications; and Matthew Biddle, assistant director of communications.

The School of Management also won two other awards in Tactics: Biddle garnered gold in Published Articles for “Partnering for Progress,” while Ghosen, Manne and Biddle won bronze in Video or Audio Programs for “Visualizing our Values.”

Two UB communications initiatives received awards in the Campaigns category:

  • “Here is How We Make Our Story Known” won gold in the Reputation/Brand Management subcategory. University Communications’ Conti-Blatto, Jerla and Smith received the award.
  • The School of Public Health and Health Professions won bronze in Reputation/Brand Management for a stairwell signage campaign aimed at building the school’s reputation and pride. Recipients were Jackie Hausler, director of communications and alumni relations, and web/graphic designer Caryn Sobieski-Vandelinder.

The School of Public Health and Health Professions’ Hausler and Sobieski-Vandelinder won silver in Promotional Materials/Publications for its school recruitment brochure.