Kent State Wins the Top Prize at the 2010 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards

University Also Receives Two Gold Awards for May 4 PR Efforts

Kent State University took home two gold awards and the most coveted “Best of Show” award at this year’s Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards. The university’s winning entries were for its work on the 40th commemoration of the May 4 shootings that occurred on the Kent State campus. 

2010 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Top PrizeThe PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards recognize outstanding public relations programs and projects. The annual awards go to public relations practitioners who have “successfully addressed a contemporary issue with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness.” The eighth annual awards ceremony was held Dec. 3 at Windows in the River in Cleveland. 

The university won its first gold award in the Special Events and Observances (Seven or Fewer Days) category for its entry titled “Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of May 4, 1970, Shootings at Kent State University.” This entry also earned the university the “Best of Show” Award, which represents the finest example of public relations programming among all winners in all categories. As part of winning the “Best of Show” award, the university gets to keep the “Best of Show” trophy – a red electric guitar – for the year until the next “Best of Show” winner is named in December 2011.

Tom Neumann, Kent State’s associate vice president for University Communications and Marketing, said the 40th commemoration events for May 4 were designed to engage and educate the public about this important moment in history and also highlight today’s Kent State University.

“It’s rewarding to be recognized by our professional peers in Cleveland for our work on the 40th anniversary of May 4,” Neumann said. “We’re the first non-public relations agency to win ‘Best of Show’ in this awards competition’s history, and for us to be recognized for our May 4 commemoration efforts - it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Kent State’s commemoration included a dedication ceremony for the May 4 site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places in conjunction with the new May 4 Walking Tour and a Democracy Speaker program that  featured U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. The dedication event attracted more than 300 people, and the speaker program brought in a standing-room-only crowd in the Kent Student Center Ballroom, which seats 900.

Kent State’s second gold award from the PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards competition was in the Interactive Communications category for its May 4 Newsroom. Located at, the online resource for journalists and the general public was co-created by the university’s media relations team and student-PR agency, Flash Communications. The newsroom features releases, videos, photos and links to social media sites where people could engage in discussion about May 4 and the 40th anniversary. 

Last month, the university also has received a 2010 PR News’ Nonprofit PR Award in the event PR category and an honorable mention in the website category for its work on the 40th commemoration of the May 4 shootings.

More information on the events of May 4, 1970, at Kent State can be found on the May 4 Newsroom at, and information on the May 4 Visitors Center can be found at

For more information about PRSA Cleveland, visit

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Photo Caption:
Kent State University staff members and students pose with the “Best of Show” trophy that the university won at the 2010 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards. Pictured are public relations students Tyler Norris, Erin Orsini and Robert Checkal, all from Flash Communications; Emily Vincent, media relations director; Tom Neumann, associate vice president for University Communications and Marketing; Dustin Lee, university videographer; and Stefanie Moore, coordinator of Flash Communications and assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Media Contacts:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595
Bob Burford,, 330-672-8516

POSTED: Friday, December 10, 2010 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Monday, April 20, 2015 - 2:36pm