Student of the Year finalists provide textbook PR example

One of my favorite PRWeek functions is judging the Student of the Year category.

One of my favorite PRWeek functions is judging the Student of the Year category. As such, my train ride into work on January 24 seemed less arduous than usual.

Joining colleagues from Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ford, and NYU, I was excited to see the finalists' presentations.

The results of that day are detailed on p. 47 of the awards program that accompanies this issue. However, some observations beyond what was included in that recap left me feeling more confident than ever about the future of communications.

The professionalism these students displayed was inspiring. I've seen many PR pros pitch and they could take a lesson from this group.

I was truly amazed by the confidence they conveyed. It never ceases to amaze me how each year's crop of Student of the Year finalists seems to grow more and more self-assured. Recalling how I might have acted in a similar scenario when in my early 20s, I found myself asking, "How are these guys so cool and collected?"

The answer lies in their comfort with social media. PRWeek has devoted much real estate to how the digital savvy young people possess is making them more valuable than ever to the industry. But I'm not talking about tactics here. It's all about confidence.

There are many aspects of PR that can only be perfected with experience. However, social media is something young folks know inside and out. Any presentation they give that is based heavily on digital tactics cannot help but be delivered with confidence.

I could almost sense some of the finalists conveying an "I got this" message throughout their deliveries. And with social media permeating every aspect of the industry, I'm quite sure that poise will only grow stronger as these students become professionals.

Of course, kudos must be given to these students' professors. Our five finalists learned their lessons well. However, what I was most encouraged by was the schools they represented - Liberty, La Salle, American, Georgia State, and Hofstra. None of these are widely considered breeding grounds for future PR stars. Perhaps they should be. Our finalists are testaments to the value of a PR education and are proof that more schools are producing top talent.

My train ride home that evening flew by because I'd spent the better part of my day seeing firsthand how bright the industry's future looks. I can only imagine what next year's Student of the Year category will produce. I can't wait. l

Gideon Fidelzeid is managing editor of PRWeek. He can be reached at

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