MarComm receives awards for sesquicentennial website, Washington Post story

Screenshot of 150th website

Editor’s note: This story was updated to acknowledge the work that former CSU graphic designer Kate Wyman did on the sesquicentennial website.

A special website created for Colorado State University’s 150th birthday and a story in The Washington Post about continued efforts to develop new COVID-19 vaccines have won honors from the Colorado chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Both entries won Silver Picks at the Colorado PRSA’s Oct. 6 awards ceremony.

“It’s always heartening to have external validation of the excellent work we do here in MarComm,” said Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Yolanda Bevill. “These are well-deserved honors for two efforts that further elevated the brand and reputation of CSU, and we are grateful for the recognition as well as the hard work that went into them.”

Website for 150th

The Division of University Marketing and Communications developed the special sesquicentennial website in 2019, kicking off a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of CSU’s founding. The site, created by designer/developer Dawood Suleman of the Web Services team and former CSU graphic designer Kate Wyman, combined archival images and historic footage with a collection of university traditions, a true-or-false quiz on CSU legends and lore, celebratory events and a then-and-now swipe between historic and modern images of the campus.

Coverage on the site — as well as on a companion SOURCE landing page designed by SOURCE Editor Joe Giordano — included an in-depth look at each of CSU’s colleges and the CSU Libraries. That series was rolled out over the course of the academic year as a monthly multi-story package featured in SOURCE and spearheaded by former SOURCE Executive Editor Kate Jeracki. Visitors to the CSU@150 site spent an average of 1:38 on the page, far exceeding the average for CSU’s news website.

“The microsite’s use of visuals, from archival images and historic footage, was impressive,” one judge said of the entry. “So were the interactive components, such as the quiz.”

Another judge added, “The graphics and website were interactive, making it a great experience for the user. The website was a great combination of education, celebration and the sharing of what lies ahead.”

Washington Post headline

Washington Post article

The Silver Pick for the Washington Post story was awarded to Science Writer and Senior PR Specialist Mary Guiden, whose media relations efforts led to a June 30 article by Post reporter Carolyn Johnson titled, “Coronavirus vaccines are widely available in the U.S. So why are scientists working on new ones?

Johnson visited campus as part of the research for her story. While at CSU, she met with researchers who work in CSU’s Biosafety Level 3 lab as well as the principal investigator for the work, Ray Goodrich, also the executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center.

Johnson also visited an engineering lab to see a device being constructed for use in the vaccine development project.

The first 600 words of the story focused on CSU veterinary scientist Dr. Izabela Ragan’s life in the lab and how friends and family thought – as of June 2021 – that the pandemic was over. The article was picked up by other outlets, including MSN, the Houston Chronicle and the Philadelphia Tribune, for a total reach of more than 105 million readers.

One of the judges said, “Well done in creating these relationships and continuing to share progress on all the development CSU was involved in — in a time when information from scientists was very important, to reach as many people as possible.”

Earlier this year, the division won 12 awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, including Grand Gold for the sesquicentennial website.