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Chester firm wins Silver Anvil Award

Contributed RECEIVES AWARD — Bob Oltmanns, right, president of OPR Group, received the 2022 Silver Anvil from Mike Gross, chairman of the 2022 PRSA Honors and Awards Committee May 19.

CHESTER — OPR Group, a public relations/marketing communications firm in Chester, is the winner of the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America for its work with the Diocese of Pittsburgh in support of Catholic school enrollment.

The award was presented at PRSA’s 2022 Anvil Awards ceremony in New York City on May 19 as the best integrated marketing campaign for associations or nonprofit organizations in America.

OPR Group led a project team of Pittsburgh-area communications partners, including Hoffmann Murtaugh, Pipitone Group and CorCom, Inc.

“This was a total team effort,” said OPR Group president Bob Oltmanns, APR, Fellow PRSA, of Chester. “The mission of increasing enrollment at Diocese of Pittsburgh schools is essential not only to the Pittsburgh community, but to the mission of faith-based education in our region. We all believed deeply in this mission and lived it every day of this campaign.”

The campaign was part of the diocese’s “Pittsburgh Catholic Schools Are Lighting the Way” initiative, and was created to increase student enrollment in Pittsburgh’s Catholic elementary schools and high schools. Enrollment in Catholic schools in the United States dropped 6.4 percent from 2020-21 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic distress — the largest single-year decline in 50 years. As a result, the number of Catholic schools nationwide has dropped from 11,000 in 1970 to fewer than than 6,000 today.

In the Pittsburgh area, Catholic schools had endured years of declining enrollment, school closures, consolidations, and teacher layoffs. The Diocese of Pittsburgh and OPR Group developed an integrated marketing campaign to educate parents of the important values and attributes of a Catholic education, overcome a decade of decline, and increase enrollment.

Through an integrated marketing campaign of storytelling and strategic messaging, enrollment in Pittsburgh’s Catholic schools increased from 2020 to 2021, far surpassing public and private school enrollment during the same period.

PRSA, the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community, announced the winners at its 2022 Anvil Awards ceremony, which recognizes the best public relations tactics and campaigns of the year and the highest standards of performance for the profession in the United States. A total of 40 Silver Anvil Awards, 29 Awards of Excellence and 18 Awards of Commendation were presented for 2022.

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