NEW YORK – Manuelita Maldonado, a recent graduate from the master’s program at the University of Southern California, will receive the 2020 Makovsky Best Master’s Thesis Award for her study, “The Rise of Intelligent Machines: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the PR Industry.” Manuelita Maldonado will present her study at the “Learn from the ‘Masters’” webinar presented by the Institute for Public Relations and Makovsky on September 29.

The Makovsky Best Master’s Thesis of the Year Award recognizes and encourages graduate study and scholarship in public relations. Submissions for the award are judged by a blind panel of Institute for Public Relations Trustees. The award winner receives a $2,000 grant and the winner’s faculty advisor receives a $1,000 cash grant.  Her advisers are donating their $1,000 prize back to USC.

“Manuelita was an outstanding student and a valued member of the team at the USC Center for Public Relations,” said Fred Cook, her faculty advisor and Director of the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations. “Her thesis on the impact of AI on communications is both provocative and practical. She provides a comprehensive overview of a complex technology and translates it into terms any PR professional can understand. Everybody should read it!”

Maldonado was a Graduate Research Associate at the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s in Strategic Public Relations in May 2020 and now works as a Tech Public Relations Intern at Golin. She intends to publish her Master’s thesis through the Institute for Public Relations.

“As sponsors of this important research program, we take great pride in the quality of the entries this year. They are among the best in history. The advance thinking that comes out of Manuelita’s research, in particular, will influence the profession for years to come. Her work is of amazing value,” said Ken Makovsky, President of Makovsky + Company, the sponsor of the annual award.

The “Learn from the ‘Masters’” webinar is on September 29, 2020 at 12 p.m. ET. Attendees may register for free at


About the Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in corporate communication and the public relations practice. IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR provides timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use. All research, including a weekly research letter, is available for free at

About Makovsky
Makovsky has achieved excellence in communications and marketing for 40 years through a focus on our founding principle, “specialized thinking.”  Our deep understanding of selected client industries and complex subject matter yields incredible value and allows us to operate as a true partner to, and an extension of, our clients. It further enables us to “think ahead” of our clients and the industries they operate in. The firm has won 70+ awards in the past four years recognizing the agency, its work and people.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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