‘Message in a Bottle’ Earns National Recognition

Letter surrounded by broken glass

Unraveling the mystery of a “Message in a Bottle” found during restoration of College Hall has earned Montclair State Communications and Marketing and the University magazine a coveted 2020 Bronze Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) — one of the nation’s top honors for public relations.

The story, first published in Montclair magazine, traveled the world and was recognized by the PRSA in the Feature Stories category. Published in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Montclair, the story combined the fascination of the discovery – the note left by bricklayers dated July 3, 1907, was among the oldest ever found  – with details from Census and ancestry records, connecting the story to the University’s 112-year history. The story piqued people’s interest in finding their families and led to a second story on the descendants, both written by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren and supported by staff photography, videography, graphics, social media and media relations.

“Message in a Bottle” was shared around the world, spreading on social media and through dozens of local and national media outlets, with millions of views. The story traveled as far as Russia, Canada and Thailand and was published in People, U.S. News and the New York Post, and aired on CNN, to name just a few.

“I am very proud of the team for producing a story that presented Montclair State so favorably to millions of people all over the world. This amazing human interest piece symbolizes the commitments and values that go all the way back to our founding.  The school that the bricklayers so carefully constructed more than a century ago continues to educate people from all walks of life, and their children and their children’s children,” said Joseph A. Brennan, vice president for Communications and Marketing.

About the Bronze Anvil Awards

According to the PRSA, the Bronze Anvil Awards have recognized excellence in public relations for more than 45 years: “This year’s competition drew a total of 322 entries. Of those, only 37 organizations were selected by the judges as Bronze Anvil winners. This demonstrates the high standards applied in the evaluation process.”

The Public Relations Society of America is the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community.

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