More tips for submitting to Best in Maryland

We have more tips from past winners on how to make sure you take home that award.

#5: Research and evaluation determine the winner.

“All creative being equal, the research and evaluation portions of an award entry determine the winner.” Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers Insurance

#6: Hold your entry to the same standards as your other communications products.

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Communications Department is laser focused on producing high-quality products in support of the CF community. Naturally, when we created our PRSA BIM Blog submission, we held it to the same high standard as any other communications product. We carefully reviewed application criteria and provided thoughtful answers, which were backed up by data. For those considering applying for this year’s PRSA BIM award(s), if you do one thing, remember that quality always matters, so create a best in class submission – one that answers all questions precisely and comprehensively, demonstrates creativity, and shows that you listened well to your audience.” Amanda Sobanet, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

#7: Don’t disqualify yourself before you even try.

“I think the judges understand every project is unique and has limitations, often in terms of budget and/or client flexibility. I would urge those thinking about entering BIM not to overly worry about these things and not to disqualify themselves before they have even tried. We were very excited to win and it meant a lot.” Adam Shapiro, ASPR

#8: Follow directions!

“It sounds so simple, but follow the directions in the call for entries. You don’t want your entry to be disqualified for a reason not at all related to your work. Make sure you include all of the required components, and submit it exactly as it’s requested. It’s worth it to spend the time putting together a thoughtful, complete entry.” Kelsey Pospisil O’Planick, News Generation, Inc.

Click here for tips #1-4

Click here to get started …

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 …

News Generation and American Bankers Association Honored at PRSA Maryland’s Best In Maryland Awards Gala


Here’s a peek into News Generation, Inc.‘s winning campaign in Media Relations – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt category: Educating and Empowering Americans with Financial Literacy. 

Finances. It is a frequent, sometimes difficult, but necessary topic of conversation between spouses, parents and children, and adults and their parents. The American Bankers Association (ABA) works to make this necessary conversation and subsequent action and preparedness as seamless and easy to understand as possible. Representing banks across the United States, the ABA works to educate, inform and empower people to take control of their finances, or those of family members in their care. To leverage the newsworthy and timely resources, tools and information it offers, ABA engaged a media strategy heavily focused on earned radio outreach. ABA partnered with News Generation, a broadcast media relations firm based in Bethesda, to develop, pitch and implement an effective media relations outreach campaign.

Together they launched a cohesive campaign of six messages, and six resulting radio media tours, working toward the goal of educating the public on the role hometown banks play in helping economic growth and empowering Americans with financial literacy. Sixty radio interviews were secured, with highlights including interviews that aired nationally on NBC News Radio (formerly 24/7 News Source at the time), Bloomberg Network, Compass Media Networks, and American Urban Radio Network. As well as airings on statewide or metro-area interviews with 16 different networks, and airings on the top news and top news-talk stations in Atlanta, Detroit, San Antonio, Fargo-Valley City, and Rapid City, as ranked by Nielsen.

The radio media tours reached a total of 74,754,470 listeners, almost 25 percent above the initial goal set out by the collaborating teams. The campaign delivered an incredible cost per point (CPP) of $.00037, or less than four one-hundredths of one penny, to reach each listener. The American Bankers Association saw engagement in the areas the radio media tours focused on, largely contributing to the advancement and awareness of the association, its focus and multi-faceted expertise.

According to Nielsen, the leading company on global information and media measurement, 93 percent of people 12 years of age and older listen to the radio each week. In addition, radio interviews allow reporters to engage the spokesperson, seeking clarity from experts and steering content towards their anticipated audience needs.

News Generation compiled the most relevant and newsworthy information into the media pitch. The pitching team extensively researched the most appropriate national and statewide networks, as ranked by Nielsen, as well as media markets in which the most relevant coverage would best represent its largest news or news-talk station. News Generation personally pitched each reporter, host and producer via telephone and email to secure the most relevant interviews based on top listenership and market rank. This all earned-media strategic approach focused on securing quality interviews with highly-ranked networks and stations to maximize on-air time for ABA.

News Generation, Inc. received an Award of Excellence for its work with ABA. Click here for a list of all 2016 Best in Maryland winners.

Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter Announces 2016 “Best in Maryland” Award Winners


A. Bright Idea Wins Best in Show Award

Communications excellence and the effective practice of public relations took center stage at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala recently hosted by PRSA Maryland at the Belvedere Hotel. Top honors this year went to A. Bright Idea, LLC, advertising and public relations agency headquartered in Bel Air, Md., for its integrated communications program – “U.S. Army National Guard Action Events” – and, to the communications department of Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, which won PR Team of the Year award.

Several individual public relations practitioners also received top honors: Louise Lake Hayman received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Loyola University’s Veronica Gunnerson was recognized as Educator of the Year; and, AECOM’s Lauren Michelotti was honored as PRSA Maryland’s New Professional of the Year.

The awards were presented at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala, which was held at The Belvedere Hotel on Thursday, December 8, 2016. This year’s event emcee was President and CEO of Clapp Communications Barb Clapp and National Geographic Magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg was the event’s keynote speaker.

In addition to presenting awards across multiple categories for communications and public relations excellence to more than two dozen area businesses, nonprofits, associations, and government agencies, PRSA Maryland also recognized outgoing President Dan Dunne, APR, of Erickson Living, and welcomed incoming President Claudia Ciolfi, manager of public relations and strategic communications at Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company.

A complete list of honorees and award recipients can be found by clicking here.

A. Bright Idea wins Best in Show

A. Bright Idea wins Best in Show

Photo caption: Pictured left to right are: (A. Bright Idea representatives Leanne Eck, interactive designer, and Kevin Hess, communications events specialist, accept the Best in Show award from PRSA Maryland Chapter President Daniel Dunne, APR, Director of Communications, Erickson Living, at the association’s awards gala in Baltimore.

Photo courtesy of Harry Bosk PR & Photography

A Special Thanks to our #BIM16 Sponsors, VIPs & Volunteers


It’s hard to believe that after months of planning and some finger-crossing on behalf of the entrants/nominees, the Best in Maryland program came to a close last week … and what a close it was! Coupled with high quality entries and tough competition on the awards side, and a top-notch venue, an outstanding keynote, and some exciting surprises on the Gala side, this year’s awards program was a resounding success. A great finish to the Chapter’s 55th year. (Check out Jeff Davis’ recap of the Gala.)

Of course, none of this can happen without the support of our sponsors and volunteers so we would like to take a few minutes to once again thank you all:

To our #BIM16 sponsors, because none of this can happen without your contribution and support …

Clapp Communications
for helping us put on this great event

Premier sponsor and VIP
for your continuing support of the Chapter

Van Eperen
for creating our #BIM16 design

Harry Bosk PR & Photography
for giving us your time and expertise
(pictures coming soon!)

PCA | An RR Donnelley Company
for providing all our printing needs with a smile
(even those last-minute items)

Flowers & Fancies
for providing our wonderful centerpieces

Erickson Living
for sponsoring the keynote Susan Goldberg
(she was amazing!).

We also want to thank our VIPs – your support helped us afford those few extras that made the evening sparkle … A. Bright Idea, LLCBGEChesapeake Employers’ Insurance CompanyCrosby MarketingErickson LivingPlanit, and Lifetime Achievement Honoree Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA.

To our #BIM16 volunteers for finding a way to balance our needs with your day jobs …

  • Dana Cohen, Clapp Communications
  • Lauren Moyer, Clapp Communications
  • Sarah Tuccitto, Clapp Communications
  • Timmy Ruppersberger, Clapp Communications
  • Daniel Dunne, APR, Erickson Living
  • Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
  • Amanda Nolan, The Associated
  • Nancy Sherman, The Caroline Center
  • Dani Baldassare, Erickson Living
  • Lisa Coster, Coster Communications, LTD
  • Blaine Dunford

See you all next year!

A. Bright Idea Wins PRSA Maryland Best of Show for Army Recruitment Campaign

by Jeff Davis
Originally appeared in Capitol Communicator (updated 12/12/2016)

A. Bright Idea wins Best in Show

A. Bright Idea wins Best in Show

A recruitment program for the Army National Guard by A. Bright Idea took top honors as “Best in Show” at the Public Relations Society of America’s Maryland Chapter “Best in Maryland” gala while Crosby Marketing Communications won the most awards – seven – at the Dec. 8 event in Baltimore.

A. Bright Idea, headquartered in Bel Air with offices on both coasts and headed by CEO Anita Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA, executed the national Action Events program through school-based event management, media relations, social media execution, creative development and promotional items. This initiative included BMX stunt performances across the country, placing recruiters in front of high school students to share messaging about core values. The campaign doubled the quality level of leads for the client.

At the event held at the Belvedere in Baltimore marking the chapter’s 55th anniversary, more than 150 turned out to acknowledge tactical and program entries from across the state.

Crosby Marketing Communications, a Capitol Communicator sponsor, walked away with seven awards, while other agencies collecting multiple trophies included Abel Communications (six), Planit (five) and Clapp Communications (four).

Others that were recognized with awards included:

ASPR; Baltimore Gas & Electric; Bonnie Heneson Communications, Inc.; Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company; Comcast; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; and Devaney & Associates, Inc.; Erickson Living; Golin; Irvine Nature Center; Johns Hopkins University Press; and LifeBridge Health.

Also, Lutheran World Relief; Maryland Lottery and Gaming; Maryland Port Administration; and News Generation, Inc.; The Baltimore Life Companies; University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Vitamin. See the PRSA Maryland website for the full list.

The Professional honorees were Lifetime Achievement – Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA; Veronica Gunnerson of Loyola University Maryland as Educator of the Year; and Lauren Michelotti of AECOM, New Professional of the Year.

Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company was acknowledged as PR Team of the Year, including members Donna Wilson, SVP communications and strategic planning; Jim Taylor, communications director; Claudia Ciolfi, manager of PR and strategic communications; Carolyn Gutermuth, manager of community relations; Dianna Fornaro, communications specialist; Archie Johnson, communications specialist; and Meaghan Yurek, communications associate and graphic designer.

A highlight of the evening was the keynote address by Susan Goldberg, editor of National Geographic.

Sponsors included Clapp Communications; VitaminVan EperenHarry Bosk PR and Photography; PCA – An RR Donnelley Company; Flowers & Fancies and Erickson Living.

In the photo, left to right, are: Leanne Eck, interactive designer, A. Bright Idea; Kevin Hess, communications events specialist, A. Bright Idea; and Daniel Dunne, APR, PRSA President and Director of Communications, Erickson Living.

Photo Credit: Harry Bosk PR and Photography

Best in Maryland (#BIM16) Nominees!


The 2016 Best in Maryland Awards Gala is less than two weeks away, and while we’ve talked much about our keynote and emcee, our professional honorees, and the venue, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also gloat about our wonderful nominees! After all, it’s the awards presentation that is the highlight of this glittering evening. So once again CONGRATULATIONS TO …

A. Bright Idea Advertising and PR

Abel Communications


Baltimore Gas & Electric

Bonnie Heneson Communications, Inc.

Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Clapp Communications


Crosby Marketing Communications, Inc.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Devaney & Associates, Inc.

Erickson Living


Irvine Nature Center

Johns Hopkins University Press

LifeBridge Health

Lutheran World Relief

Maryland Lottery and Gaming

Maryland Port Administration

News Generation, Inc.


The Baltimore Life Companies

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy


And of course our Professional honorees …

Lifetime Achievement Honoree – Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA

Educator of the Year – Veronica Gunnerson, Loyola University Maryland

p.s. We’ll also be revealing PR Team of the Year and New Professional of the Year, featuring a PRSSA chapter, and awarding the Best in Show. So even if you aren’t nominated, join us on December 8th and help us celebrate another year of PR and communications excellence!

Thanks to our #BIM16 Sponsors

National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg to Keynote Public Relations Gala


Barbara Clapp, one of Maryland’s top CEOs, tapped to emcee event

Susan Goldberg

Susan Goldberg

Two leading women in communications will kick off the annual Public Relations Awards for Maryland ceremony on December 8 at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore. Susan Goldberg, National Geographic Magazine’s first female editor-in-chief, will keynote the Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter “Best in Maryland” Awards Gala. Joining her as emcee will be Barbara Clapp, founder of Clapp Communications and one of Maryland’s top CEOs.

“We are thrilled and honored that Ms. Goldberg is supporting our chapter by serving as this year’s keynote speaker,” said Dan Dunne, president of PRSA Maryland. “She is a remarkable person with a distinguished career in journalism.”

In her speech, Goldberg will discuss how National Geographic magazine navigates the dynamic field of digital media. Dunne said, “Her insights will provide Baltimore’s communication professionals with new opportunities to remain on top of their game.”

Barbara Clapp

Barb Clapp

Hundreds of professional communicators will gather at the event to recognize award-winning communications and celebrate the chapter’s 55th anniversary. Awards presented during Best in Maryland will recognize model practitioners of public relations, communications, and marketing in the state of Maryland.

“This year’s gala will be one of the chapter’s premier events,” said Dunne. “With Ms. Clapp as the emcee, an elegant venue, fabulous speakers, and numerous award recipients, there is no better way to celebrate another successful year in Maryland public relations and communications.”

Click here for more information on nominations and event registration.