PRSA Richmond Announces 72nd Annual Virginia Public Relations Awards

The Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) honored statewide organizations and companies for excellence in public relations at the 2019 Virginia Public Relations Awards ceremony, held at The Hotel John Marshall in Richmond, Va. May 23.

“We’re proud to recognize the impactful public relations work across Virginia,” said Judi Crenshaw, M.S. APR, president of PRSA Richmond and instructor, Public Relations Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. “Ethical, strategic public relations play a key role in organizational decision making like never before. Holding up the best-of-the-best campaigns in Virginia provides great models for the whole industry — these programs are creative, and they also strategically move the needle in a way that best fulfills a company’s mission.”

The Virginia Public Relations Awards are separated into two divisions: the Commonwealth Awards, which honor the best public relations programs and campaigns of the year, and the Capital Awards, which honor the best public relations tactics of the year. First-place winners in each category are honored with an Award of Excellence, while runners-up receive an Award of Merit. Finally, Best in Show awards were given to the top overall entries in the campaigns and tactics categories.

This year’s Commonwealth Best in Show winner for campaigns was Padilla for its Bigger than a Drink: Pouring New Life into the Virginia Wine brand campaign. Despite its evolution, Virginia Wine was having an identity crisis. The region needed a story to inspire winemakers, trade and customers. Virginia Wine, PR agency Padilla, and brand consultancy Joe Smith developed a new brand identity and launch campaign.

This year’s Capital Best in Show winners for tactics were The Virginia Lottery and Padilla for their Honoring Virginia’s Teachers, One Thank-You Note at a Time. In the campaign’s third year, the team honed its social media strategy to leverage social media platforms’ algorithm changes, introducing dynamic creative content and paid support. In addition to collaborating with external partners, the team generated organic interest, interacting with local school districts and sharing community-generated content in real-time. The social media component alone yielded more than 3.6 million impressions and exceeded goals for engagements, reach and hashtag impressions.

Commonwealth and Capital Award entries were judged for research, planning, execution and evaluation by the Atlanta Chapter of PRSA.

During the ceremony, PRSA Richmond presented Beth Monroe, APR, with the 2019 Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Public Relations. For over 20 years she has led public relations at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, helping to establish the 50-acre oasis as one of the nation’s top public gardens. She has demonstrated a deep commitment to service – both for the Richmond region and the public relations community.  Beth was one of the first partners in the Richmond Region Tourism’s OutRVA campaign to attract LGBTQ+ travelers. Beth has worked to make Lewis Ginter more accessible to our community with free admission days and by partnering with other nonprofits to offer free admission to those who might not otherwise be able to attend. Remarkably, Beth has served as a mentor to more than 50 young practitioners, interns and career-switchers over the years, in addition to her service to PRSA Richmond as an officer, mentor and awards committee member.

Through Beth’s efforts, Lewis Ginter has received numerous national and international awards, including several from USA Today/10Best, which ranks the Garden in the top 10 in the United States. Though these efforts and many more too numerous to list, Beth has raised the profile of the entire Richmond region with her work.

Thomas Jefferson Award winners exemplify the best in the PR profession and the program is open to PR practitioners in the Greater Richmond metropolitan area.  Recipients receive $1,000 to support a local nonprofit. Monroe will donate the amount to the PRSA Foundation, for the benefit of student scholarships and professional development.

The Rising Star Award was presented at the ceremony as well. This honor recognizes an outstanding member of the public relations profession with five or fewer years of experience. Vera Magdeeva of Gray Ryan Communications was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Rising Star Award.

For more details, visit 2019 Awards.