USAO’s PR Guy Takes State Communicator Award
CHICKASHA – Randy Talley may be one of the best public relations guys in the state – and that’s no spin. The director of media and community relations for the University of Science and Arts recently was named Communicator of the Year by two professional organizations holding a joint conference in Stillwater.
Talley was honored by the Oklahoma College Public Relations Association (OCPRA) and the State Communicators Council at a statewide forum Nov. 15 at Oklahoma State University.
“I am fortunate to enjoy the support of an extremely talented staff and a seriously devoted family,” Talley said Tuesday. “If I look tall, it’s because I’m standing on their shoulders.”
Presenter Susie Brown said Talley represents both his university and his field well.
“Randy Talley is the consummate public relations professional in Oklahoma's higher education system,” Brown said. “His belief in the importance of education as a whole, his creativity and expertise as a writer, designer and communicator, and his devotion to the mission and success of USAO, have been invaluable not only for the college itself, but also for Oklahoma's higher education community as a whole, and for his colleagues in OCPRA for nearly two decades."
Brown is president of OCPRA and director of marketing communications at Tulsa Community College.
For the past 20 years, Talley has served as the public relations director at USAO. He has won more than 20 state awards for writing, photography, editing and design, and has twice served as president of OCPRA. This year, Talley serves as chairman of the State Communicators Council, where he has been a member since its inception in 1993.
The award gives Talley another platform for USAO, he said.
“I enjoy telling the USAO story everywhere I go,” he said. “It’s not really hard to be proud of USAO given its national reputation for quality and devoted faculty and staff. To be named Oklahoma Communicator of the Year for doing my job is an extraordinary honor, the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.”
According to its website, “OCPRA presents the Natalea Watkins Communicator of the Year Award to an individual whose service and leadership have set a high standard for others.” Each year, nominations are received from public relations professionals spanning every college and university in the state.
Watkins was a longtime administrator at OSU, where her leadership in OCPRA and the State Communicators Council earned so much respect that the organizations named their award program for her. Watkins was the first recipient in 2003.
For Talley, who knows the former television anchor and media consultant well, receiving the award was a reward all its own.
“I am delighted to earn anything with the name ‘Natalea Watkins’ on it,” Talley said. “She is a rare talent, one of the finest professional communicators I have ever been privileged to know. She served with distinction in the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, first as the top communicator for Oklahoma State University, and then as the president of both our professional organizations in Oklahoma. She has vision and steely perseverance.”
Brown said she was excited to surprise Talley with the award.
“He is so very deserving, and I was thrilled that he was selected and I had the honor of presenting the award to him,” she said. “We have been friends for so long, and it did my heart good to see him recognized for his many achievements. He is deeply respected throughout the higher education public relations community.”
Talley graduated from OSU in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in political science. He wrote for the Tulsa World newspaper, then served as news bureau director at Oklahoma Baptist University, then worked for an advertising agency before joining USAO’s staff in 1986.
At USAO, he works with members of the college community, the Alumni Association and the USAO Foundation to create materials and events promoting Oklahoma’s public liberal arts college. He serves as the primary spokesman for the college to media. For more than a decade, he taught newswriting as an adjunct faculty member.
Talley serves as a consultant to state agencies, organizations and institutions in multimedia design, public speaking, graphic design and photography. He designs the multimedia portion of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame each year and serves other local and state organizations in multimedia and video. During the past year, he designed two large-scale museum exhibits for the Oklahoma Historical Society, both of which can be seen in statewide museums through a traveling exhibition program.
Talley and his wife, Kathie, have four children.