Stirling PR students shortlisted for prestigious award

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Four University of Stirling Public Relations students have been recognised as among the best in Europe after being nominated for a top international award.

Kars van Weeren, Iris Lopez Wyld, Jeni Harvey and Michael Cassar, have all been shortlisted by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) in its annual Master Thesis Awards for Excellence. The accolades honour those who make a significant professional or practical academic contribution to the field of public relations in Europe.

The nominations mark the most successful year for Stirling in the competition, having only received its first finalist place, and a subsequent victory in the award scheme, in 2019.

Dr Alenka Jelen, Programme Director, MSc Strategic Communications and Public Relations, said: “We are really proud of Kars, Iris, Jeni and Michael, who have provided important contributions for the sector. To be shortlisted amongst students from some of the leading institutions in Europe is a fantastic accolade for the University too.

“As has been shown by the global COVID-19 pandemic, effective, honest and consistent communication can save lives, and the industry will only benefit from having such passionate, driven and talented graduates amongst its profession.”

The competition is split in to two categories – Theoretical Impact Award and Practical Impact Award – with a winner in each set to be announced in October.

Kars, who is from Amsterdam, studied MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations as part of a joint degree with Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

Kars van Weeran photo
Kars Van Weeren
MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations
It feels very rewarding to have been shortlisted by EUPRERA and it is nice to have my efforts validated in this way. The most enjoyable components of this Masters was the balance between practical and theoretical knowledge and the opportunity to study in two very different environments, Stirling and Barcelona.

Iris, a Graduate Trainee at a leading communications agency in London, was recognised for her dissertation which looked at how PR was used by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein to defend himself against accounts of sexual assault, and by his victims to speak out.

She said: “I’m proud that my work is being recognised and is reaching a wider audience – this was a subject I was very passionate about. It was challenging to write at home during lockdown, when I wasn’t able to go to the library, see classmates or meet my supervisor in person, but it also meant that I was very focused on the research, and it prepared me well for moving into remote work once I graduated.”

Photo of Iris Lopez Wyld
Iris Lopez Wyld
Graduate Trainee, FleishmanHillard UK
I’m proud that my work is being recognised and is reaching a wider audience – this was a subject I was very passionate about.

Jeni, who juggled her studies with her current job as Head of Communications and Research at Oldham Council, was recognised for her dissertation ‘Public Sector communications professionals: Understanding organisational coalitions and effective communications’.

Photo of Jeni Harvey
Jeni Harvey
Head of Communications and Research at Oldham Council
As a committed public servant, who is passionate about communicating with people on the issues that matter to them, I’m delighted that a research project that focuses on public sector communications, and the complexities of power structures within these organisations, has been recognised by EUPRERA as something of international interest

Michael, a public relations manager from Malta, said: “It is always a nice feeling when an institution such as EUPRERA recognises the effort, time and dedication you’ve put into producing a dissertation.  

“Studying alongside my full-time job and juggling family commitments was tough, and on top of that, having the disruption caused to my personal and professional life by COVID-19, was not easy.  But, I can say that this course has helped me advance my career, providing me with analytical tools, critical-thinking and professional confidence to continue in this industry.”

The full awards shortlist can be found on the EUPRERA website.