Caitlin Frye, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and Gary Scott, PRSA Alaska President-Elect. 

Following the monthslong Mitchell Expressway closure over the summer, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has now been recognized for its public relations efforts during the project.

From a GCI customer appreciation pool party in Bethel to a United Way campaign encouraging people to overcome stereotypes, the Public Relations Society of America Alaska Aurora Awards were presented for a wide gamut of communications efforts this month. The Grand Award of Excellence for recognizing an excellent communication tactic went to DOT, for an informative video series created in light of the expressway closure.

DOT Spokeswoman Caitlin Frye said receiving first place for the video material category, followed by the Grand Award of Excellence for the same entry was both surprising and exciting.

The Mitchell closure impacted 15,000-19,000 vehicle trips a day, according to an Alaska chapter of the Public Relations Society of America press release. The release further states the videos balanced clear language and information, conversation, humor and sympathy.

“I think that one of the things that really resonated with people about these videos was the fact that we were able to explain why we were doing what we were doing. That was one of the big goals,” Frye said.

A special thing about the videos, Frye said, is that they put it together on a low budget. For example, Frye took some of the footage used in the videos by propping the phone up in her dashboard and recording as she drove down the road.  The videos themselves are fairly short, rife with images of the expressway pre-maintenance, with text overlaid to describe the necessary repairs and reasons for the closure.

“They weren’t fancy, they were not polished and they were not expensive, but they resonated with people I think partially because they spoke the language of social media,” Frye said.  She added that they wanted to be funny and connect with people on a human level.

Frye and Danielle Tessen put together the videos, but Frye accepted the award on behalf of the entire department. Frye said she thinks the award is a reflection of the good work of the whole communications team.

“This award might be for this particular video series,” Frye said, “but this video series wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the collaboration that our communications team does.”

Awards were presented in 26 categories. More information on the Aurora Awards can be found at www.prsaalaska.org.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.