Tips for Submitting to Best in Maryland

Are you starting to think about what to submit to this year’s Best in Maryland awards competition? Or have you started working on your entries? Either way, here are a few tips from past winners on how to make sure you take home that award …

#1: Start early!

“The biggest piece of advice we can give is to start early. You may be surprised by the amount of time it takes to craft a solid, compelling entry – it isn’t something you want to rush!” Kendall Blair, Vitamin

#2: Find your “best fit.”

“Carefully review all of the award categories to determine what would be a “best fit” for any nomination you might be planning to submit. Also, having previously served as an award judge, I recommend that nominations be as concise as possible; having clearly stated measurable objectives and results.” Dan Dunne, Erickson Living.

#3: Have a sound strategy and measure!

“One piece of advice for someone entering this year’s BIM awards is to focus on 2 things: sound strategy and measurement early and often.  The digital landscape allows us to have access to more data than we know how to handle – showing that you used some type of data insight to develop your campaign will position you well. And get creative with measurement. The number of free tools at your disposal allows us to measure PR impact better than ever before, and even more creatively than ever with the use of free infographic tools and dashboards.” Caitlin Wolf, Planit.

#4: Use this as a PR exercise.

“Have a good product. Don’t enter because you want to win an award. Enter because it is a PR exercise. You get recognition from an established group and brand exposure. Our team was very proud of our win – and our teamwork.” Brooks Paternotte, Irvine Nature Center

Read tips #5-8 here.

Click here to get started …

Member Profile: Cathy Nyce

This month, we talked with Cathy Nyce, director of marketing and communications for Maryland Automobile Insurance, where she led the complete re-branding of the 40-year-old agency. Cathy also served on the 2017 PRSA Maryland Conference Committee helping to create a highly successful program.

What is your hometown? Macon, Georgia

Where did you go to college/university? 

Georgia College, B.A. in Journalism
University of Baltimore, M.A. in Legal and Ethical Studies

How would you say your PRSA membership is of benefit to you?

The educational programs are excellent and always provide learning that I can apply immediately in my role as director of communications, which benefits my team, as well as me. The networking opportunities have been great – I’ve made some key connections with communications directors in similar organizations that have led to mutually beneficial collaborations. As we launched a complete rebrand of Maryland Auto, I found strong resources and guidance through PRSA members. And, I’ve met fun people! Finally, the Best in Maryland Awards provided well-deserved recognition for my entire team and concrete results we could share with our executive team and board.

Do you have any personal or professional role models?

Katharine Hepburn and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

What are some of your interests and/or passions?

I am passionate about leadership and recently completed the Transformational Leadership program at Georgetown University. I am also passionate about mentoring and encouraging young women to participate in the political process – I serve on the Running Start Advisory Board. I love the beach, reading and paddle-boarding with my two rescue puppies onboard with me. And, I am a bit obsessed with my Peloton bike and Pure Barre classes.

How can PRSA Maryland members connect with you? You can email me at

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck: Public Relations on a Limited Budget

By Malissa Carroll

Five tips to help your company or organization “do more with less” when executing your PR plan.

The benefits that organizations can reap when they dedicate the necessary time, effort, and resources into developing and implementing a comprehensive public relations plan will often outweigh any financial commitments associated with executing the plan. However, at a time when budget uncertainty continues to plague small and large businesses alike and organizations begin to look for new ways to “do more with less,” it serves us well to remember that, as public relations professionals, there are steps we can take to ensure that our work continues to have the greatest impact even when budgets have been stretched paper thin.

Know Your Audience
The importance of knowing your organization’s audience can seem obvious to the seasoned public relations professional. However, it is worth restating, as any PR efforts that do not target those audiences will almost certainly waste time and resources – neither of which PR professionals on a shoestring budget can afford. Understand the needs of your organization’s audiences and focus your efforts on channels that will drive those individuals to your business, such as garnering attention from niche publications focused on your specific industry.

Build Relationships
While especially important for PR professionals who work with members of the media, relationship building can extend beyond networking with local journalists and influencers. Establishing a strong presence on social media – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – is inexpensive and can be an invaluable way to engage with your audiences. Dedicate the time to regularly post content that demonstrates the value that your organization brings to others, not just an occasional news story.

Treat Content as King
Never underestimate the value that well-crafted, versatile content can add to your PR plan. For professionals on a limited budget, this content can easily be developed in-house, without hiring a professional copywriter. You can also review materials from previous campaigns to see if there is content that you can repurpose with minimal to no updating. Once your content has been finalized, share it across all platforms at your disposal to achieve maximum impact with your audiences.

Integrate Communications
Integrating communications can be an excellent way for PR professionals on a limited budget to extend the reach of their efforts. Did your organization recently invest in the production of a new print publication? Think about how you might be able to adapt pieces from that publication for your organization’s website or social media platforms. This practice will not only help extend the reach of your content, but also ensure that your organization is sharing a consistent message across all media.

Leverage Your PRSA Membership
As PRSA members, there are numerous resources that you can take advantage of to remain on the cutting-edge of the profession – many of which are available at no cost. Attend a networking event hosted by your local chapter to see how other PR professionals are maximizing their efforts on a limited budget. Register for a free webinar or read a recent white paper to learn new skills that you can bring in-house to reduce the costs associated with hiring outside agencies. Your PRSA membership comes with many benefits. Do not overlook them.

A strong public relations plan can bring immeasurable value to an organization’s brand and reputation. By adhering to the tips above and investing the necessary time and effort, you can not only demonstrate your ability to “do more with less,” but also ensure the success of your PR plan and, consequently, your organization.

2017 Best in Maryland Call for Entries is here!

What makes a winner “Best in Maryland”?


Best (adj): of the most excellent or desirable type or quality.

Best in Maryland winner (noun): a superior PR professional that nailed it!

Does this sound like you? Then you’ll be happy to hear that the 2017 Best in Maryland Call for Entries is now open!

The Best in Maryland awards celebrates the diverse and unique work in our area. PR professionals who have creatively navigated a communications challenge with precision and ingenuity are encouraged to enter any number of categories including:

  • Community Relations
  • Crisis Communications
  • Integrated Communications
  • Pro Bono
  • Public Service
  • Social Media
  • And so, so much more!

Click here for more information!

Who will be the “Best in Maryland?” That’s for the judges – the members of PRSA Central California Chapter – to decide. Let’s show them what the Best in Maryland can do.

We are also accepting nominations for our Professional Awards! Categories include …

  • Lifetime Achievement
  • Rising Star
  • PR Team Award
  • Educator of the Year
  • Partner of Distinction

And our newest award for PR pros with a minimum of 10 years experience …

  • Paul E. Welsh (NEW)

Nominate someone today! Click here for more information.

And be sure to mark your calendar for December 6 and join us for the party of the year – Best in Maryland Awards Gala. This year, we’re headed to the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore.

Early bird prices end on August 29th. Final deadline is September 12th

A Special Thanks to our Sponsors…

Design – Devaney & Associates

Photography – Coyle Studios


Member Profile: Nancy Sherman, PRSA Maryland Communications Committee Chair

Nancy Sherman is director of marketing and communications at Caroline Center, where she manages the organization’s brand, external communications, community and media relations, print and social media, and special events. She also writes and posts in “The Breakroom,” Caroline Center’s official blog site.

Nancy’s hometown
I grew up in southeast Washington, DC, in the Anacostia neighborhood, where I remember walking to school each day except when the snow got taller than I was and luxuriously long summers – hot afternoons and lazy time spent on the front porch glider reading books that I had to have a parent’s note to borrow from the neighborhood public library. Eventually, I found my way to Baltimore where I live and work on the east side. The summers are no longer so long and luxurious; but I still manage to carve out a little lazy time, and I still read whatever I want – no permission required.

University of Maryland, College Park, BA in English and Philosophy
University of Virginia, MA in English Literature

How would you say that your PRSA membership is of benefit to you?
My involvement in PRSA is a wonderful way to connect with colleagues and to share resources, knowledge, and experiences that help to strengthen and sharpen my own practice. Working in a small nonprofit organization, such as Caroline Center, is often very hands-on and keenly focused on mission. Belonging to PRSA helps me stay connected to the diverse and highly nuanced elements of the profession – parts of the work that I may not get to touch on a daily basis. As Communications Committee chair, I enjoy working with professionals at varying levels in their careers and learning from their experiences and fresh perspectives.

Do you have any personal/professional role models?
There are so many people whom I personally admire, not because they are saints, but because they have an uncanny ability to live fully, out-loud, honestly, imperfectly, unabashedly, and genuinely. Mostly, they are artists and poets and prophets and writers – folks of every stripe whose avocations and callings require them to live and speak their truths and to speak truth to power. The list is long because the well is deep.

My parents were certainly significant role models for me. They gave me an unwavering sense of the real merit of having strong personal values; and, they were always resourceful, creative, resilient, and positive even under the toughest circumstances.

Professionally, I learned so much and learned it so joyfully from my friends and mentors at the United Way of Central Maryland – Alan S. Cooper and Julie Mercer – who showed me, by example, how to lead and manage well; how to see and seize upon good opportunities when they presented themselves; and, how to build and nurture workplace and community relationships. Patricia McLaughlin, SSND, the executive director and my boss at Caroline Center, shows me every day how deeply rewarding strong commitment and passion for your work can be and that the best work one can ever do comes from a near-perfect alignment of the mind, heart, and spirit.

What are some of your interests and passions?
I like to say that I dabble in people. People have stories; but, more importantly, people are stories. I’ve found that if you give a person respect, an open mind and heart, and generous amounts of space and time, you will be rewarded with stories.

I love jazz, street art, black and white photography, theater, dinosaurs, astrophysics for lay people, Italian food, eating with chopsticks, trying to play the hammered dulcimer, writing, books with deckle-edged pages, poetry, and all manifestations of the brilliant use of words and of visual language.

I hope it goes without saying that I love my family and the wide circle of friends they bring to my life – not because they are saints, but because they remind me to keep living fully, out-loud, honestly, imperfectly, unabashedly, and genuinely.

You can connect with Nancy on social media, but to really get her attention, give her a call, send her an email, or stop by and see her at Caroline Center. Let’s see … that would be: 410-563-1303 x25;; and 900 Somerset Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.


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