Oklahoma Christian University’s student public relations firm was honored alongside the city’s top public relations professionals for their efforts to raise awareness for mental health by Oklahoma City’s Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Nov. 2.
Oklahoma Christian’s Eagle PR group won honorable mention for its 30-day mental health social media project at the 2017 Upper Case Awards, which recognizes the top Oklahoma City professionals in over 30 categories, covering an array of public relations, communications and marketing.
Both senior Student Agency Director Aubree Hughes and junior Digital Media Director Christian Franklin joined Associate Professor of Communications Joshua Watson in representing Eagle PR at the awards ceremony.
“It feels good to know that our hard work has paid off and to know that we are doing work good enough to compete with Oklahoma City’s top agencies,” Hughes said. “We were able to help people who are battling mental health to learn the five signs of mental suffering and were able to direct them to resources that can help them.”
The inspiration for the mental health campaign came in the spring, when Eagle PR competed in the Bateman Case Study Competition, PRSA’s national competition for public relations students. According to Hughes, students were asked to partner with the national nonprofit Campaign to Change Directions to raise awareness for the five signs of mental suffering, which include: not feeling like yourself, feeling agitated, feeling withdrawn, feeling hopeless and the question of whether one is taking care of themselves.
At the end of their campaign, Eagle PR found they had increased awareness of the five signs of mental suffering on the Oklahoma Christian campus by 35 percent; and increased the discussion of mental health on campus by 19 percent. According to Franklin, the campaign’s theme, “Not OK is OK,” allowed students to partner with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Sunbeam Family Services CEO Jim Priest and other mental health organization to share the five signs.
“I was the digital media director so I oversaw all the social media posts and website for the campaign,” Franklin said. “I was in charge of communicating with the other Eagle PR officers to make sure our message was consistent. It has been cool to see us win an award, not just for our hard work, but also to see how our work can help impact lives and help those who are affected by mental health.”
According to its mission statement, Eagle PR gives students the opportunity to gain professional experience prior to entering the workforce. According to Hughes, they gain real-world experience, learn how to successfully implement a campaign and earn a chance to connect with industry leaders.
“This is another impressive recognition for Eagle PR,” Chair of the Department of Communications Larry Jurney said. “Our teaching philosophy is to take what we learn in the classroom and put it into practical application. We are proud of these students.”
Eagle PR currently works to provide services to several clients in the Oklahoma City area, including research, media relations, event planning, graphic design, videography, social media and strategy consultation. The student-run firm has been in operation for three years, with plans to expand their services further within the next year.
“I graduate in December and feel equipped for my career because of the real-world experience Eagle PR has given me,” Hughes said. “OC’s PR majors are very lucky to have this opportunity to create high-level work.”