"Evidence of success was impressive, with the national placements and high reach. Even more impressive is the scope and scale of work completed and goals achieved or exceeded, especially given the virtually nonexistent budget. This project proved that simple know-how can yield strongest results."

Alaska Native young men, ages 15-24 have the highest suicide rate of any American demographic nationwide. Native languages are teetering on the brink of extinction. Native students have the highest dropout rate in the country. These statistics about Native American and Alaska Native people are often reported as poverty porn or altogether ignored by news media. For the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) College of Rural and Community Development (CRCD) students, faculty and staff, these one-dimensional narratives and invisibility in news coverage were devastatingly personal. 

Many scientists have not shared the study results and/or taken advantage of sacred knowledge and cultural/intellectual property of Native people. That’s why CRCD created a safe space for Alaska Native students by not conducting formal research like focus groups or Internet-based, telephone or mail surveys. The PIO softened the way primary research was conducted by having casual conversations and asking questions.

​CRCD’s strategic plan requires a culturally relevant public relations campaign to “clearly articulates the social return on investment and shares the success and accomplishments of our programs and campuses.”


  • 2018 PRSA Alaska Grand Aurora Award (Best of Show)

  • 2018 PRSA Aurora Award, First Place: Multicultural Communication

  • 2018 PRSA Aurora Award of Excellence, First Place: Writing Portfolio

  • 2018 PRSA Aurora Award of Excellence, First Place: Media Relations

  • 2018 Alaska Professional Communicators, First Place: Media Kit - Tools to Gain Media Coverage

  • 2018 Alaska Professional Communicators, First Place: News or Feature Releases - Multiple Releases

  • 2019 Alaska Professional Communicators, First Place: Media Pitch

  • 2019 Alaska Professional Communicators, First Place: News or Feature Releases - Single Releases
  • 2019 Alaska Professional Communicators, First Place: Public Service PR Campaign 

statewide awards:

  • EXCEEDED Objective 1: Place 5 national news stories quoting CRCD faculty/staff from June 1, 2017 to February 8, 2019 to enhance CRCD as the go-to organization in Alaska for thought leaders commenting on Native issues.
    • 8 national news stories on Voice of America, Native America Calling, US News & World Report, and Winds of Change magazine;

    • 3 mentions of UAF’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day in National Native News, Fox News Online, and College Fix stories.

    • 6 International news stories: Thai News Service, Voice of America’s Learning English, South-South News, Voice of America international radio network and Associated Press stories in Canada.

  • EXCEEDED Objective 2: 4000 Facebook shares of CRCD news coverage, press releases and event website pages from June 1, 2017 to February 8, 2019.
    • ​​5,594 Facebook shares of CRCD news coverage, press releases and event website pages.


  • EXCEEDED Objective 3: Increase local and statewide visibility with 200 positive news stories about CRCD programs, faculty, staff and students, including 7 A1 stories in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner from June 1, 2017 to February 8, 2019.
    • ​​278 total positive news stories about CRCD programs, faculty, staff and students, including 7 A1 stories in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner as well as a bylined front-page story in the regional Army newspaper. Additionally, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner four editorials advocated for CRCD. 

  • As a result of targeted media relations, a top tier reporter changed her Twitter bio from covering “Native American issues” (see first screenshot of bio from April 2018) to covering “Native American/Alaska Native/Indigenous issues” (see screen shots from September 2018 and January 2019).  In October, she emailed: “I'm very glad to finally talk more about Alaska Natives, who are so ‘out of the way’ they are nearly invisible in the media.

  • The UAF Chancellor recognized the results and impact of the campaign with an invitation to serve on the "Solidify our Global Leadership in Alaska Native and Indigenous Programs" team.

  • After reading a story placed in the Anchorage Daily News, an executive at a regional Alaska airline offered to provide donations and deeply discounted rates for those traveling for the suicide prevention research project.

  •  The mayors of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Fairbanks and North Pole Cities issued a three-mayor proclamation for Festival of Native Arts Day on March 1, 2018. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Malott wrote a letter for the Festival program.

Judge's Comments

  • 2019 PRSA Silver Anvil Finalist, which means this campaign won either the Silver Anvil or a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence. Winners announced June 6, 2019, in New York City.

  • 2018 National Federation of Press Women, First Place: Media Kit - Tools to Gain Media Coverage

  • 2018 National Federation of Press Women, First Place: News or Feature Releases - Multiple Releases

  • ​2019 National Federation of Press Women, First Place: Media Pitch

  • ​2019 National Federation of Press Women, Third Place: Public Service PR Campaign

  • ​2019 National Federation of Press Women, Honorable Mention: News or Feature Releases - Single Releases

case study: indigenous & visible

Results: All objectives Exceeded

situation analysis:

2019 PUBLIC RELATIONS SOCIETY OF AMERICA SILVER ANVIL FINALIST:
​Most Effective Campaign on a budget  $5,000 or less

"This was quite an impressive campaign. Everything exceeded all expectations. Job well done."

"A top-level effort from conception to completion. The ability to craft an effective media release, target an audience, then be available to effectively facilitate interviews and promotion was impressive. The coverage both locally and nationally shined a positive light on the event, but more importantly on UAF. Impressive also was the variety of media coverage and your ability to collect and catalog the success of your efforts. Efforts like this should serve as a solid blueprint for future efforts."

"This is an outstanding entry. Thank you for providing examples of coverage and for clearly stating objectives and how they were met. This entry shines with its explanation of the audience, purpose and the results of gathering national attention. This work clearly connected with so many key stakeholders for your institution. Indigenous Peoples Day is the kind of activity that shows the reach of a higher education institution, and the releases were a clear part of communicating that piece of the story Great work"

"Excellent use of limited resources to achieve great media coverage, directly tied to goals/objectives. Very descriptive details and demonstration of strategic thinking. Great job!"

national awards:

University of Alaska Fairbanks’ first PR Effort for its rural campuses & Alaska Native programs

"From initial press release to post-event wrap up, a top-notch effort. Long does a fine job of providing event details -- which is key -- but excels also in providing some background, some history and then offers the media real people with stories to tell. The quality of her effort shows with the number of clips and amount of coverage. Approaching and receiving a sit-down with a newspaper editorial board is always tricky, and Long is able to do so with this event. The television coverage also stood out, with several lengthy segments. Given the breadth and depth of coverage, it's little surprise that the workshops were well-attended."