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PRSA Maryland Bestows 47 Awards at First Virtual ‘Best in Maryland’ Gala

The Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter bestowed 47 Best in Maryland (BIM) awards in 26 categories, including a new COVID-19 category, as well as five professional awards during a virtual gala and awards show held on December 10, 2020.

For the second year in a row, the Best in Show award was presented to Sandy Hillman Communications, this year for “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.”

Maryland Auto Insurance won the most BIM awards (seven), followed by Crosby Marketing Communications with six.

BIM 2020 award submissions were judged by the PRSA Hoosier Chapter. The event was emceed by Tia Malloy, following an introduction by outgoing chapter President Lisa Brusio Coster. Following is a list of all awardees:

Professional Awards
Lifetime Achievement (20+ years) – Kenneth R. Smith, APR
Paul E. Welsh (10+ years) – Courtney Benhoff, Erickson Living
Partner of Distinction – Beyond Definition
Educator of the Year – Melanie Formentin, Towson University
PR Team of the Year – Abel Communications
Kathleen Kelly Scholarship – Faith Schanck, Hofstra University

Best in Maryland Award Winners
Best in Maryland: HASA Partners with BOPA as “Access and Inclusion Partner” – Abel Communications
Award of Excellence: Community Comes First in West Baltimore Hospital Acquisition – LifeBridge Health

Best in Maryland: Promoting COVID-19 Relief Fund to Support America’s Veterans – DAV and Crosby Marketing
Award of Excellence: Helping the Military Community Navigate the Impacts of COVID-19 – Military OneSource and Crosby Marketing
Award of Excellence: United Way of Central Maryland’s COVID-19 Communications – Sandy Hillman Communications

Best in Maryland / Best in Show: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – Sandy Hillman Communications
Award of Excellence: Project Sanctuary Comes to Maryland – Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Award of Excellence: St. John Properties $10M Bonus Announcement – Planit

Best in Maryland: Made Possible By Viewers Like You: Celebrating 50 Years of MPT – Maryland Public Television
Award of Excellence: Work Zone Safety – Maryland State Highway Administration

Best in Maryland: DAV Victories for Veterans PSA Campaign – Crosby Marketing and DAV
Award of Excellence: “Designed by Moms” Family Birthplace Campaign – Devaney & Associates, Inc.

Best in Maryland: I’m Dedicated to my C.R.A.F.T. – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance
Award of Excellence: BGE Fairy Tale Campaign – Baltimore Gas & Electric
Award of Excellence: Maryland 529 Marketing Campaign – The Hatcher Group

Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance

Best in Maryland: #StopScammersSunday – BGE
Award of Excellence: Active Shooter Preparedness Seminars – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Award of Excellence: MD Move Over Campaign – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance

Best in Maryland: Tuerk House 2018-2019 Annual Report – Devaney & Associates, Inc.

Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance

Best in Maryland: E-ZPass Maryland: The Broulder – Van Eperen
Award of Excellence: MD Move Over Pamphlet – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

CREATIVE TACTICS – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt
Best in Maryland: E-ZPass Maryland on Wheels – Van Eperen
Award of Excellence: Washington Dulles International Airport Takeover – Kaiser Permanente and Crosby Marketing

Best in Maryland: Conrad Siegel’s “Investment Committee Meeting in a Box” – Abel Communications

Award of Excellence: State Highway Administrator Appeals to Drivers Approaching Work Zones – Maryland State Highway Administration

Best in Maryland: United Way of Central Maryland’s FISH Project – Sandy Hillman Communications

Best in Maryland: Photo Solutions – Coyle Studios

MEDIA RELATIONS – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt
Best in Maryland: Reading Partners – Collins + Co.
Award of Excellence: Ingenuity Project Media Relations Campaign – Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Award of Excellence: NAA’s Rent Control & Housing Affordability Media Relations Campaign – Abel Communications

Award of Excellence: Live! Casino & Hotel’s Chef Ed Competes on Chopped – Stanton Communications, and Live! Casino & Hotel

Best in Maryland: DAV Victories for Veterans — Bobby & Carmen PSA – Crosby Marketing and DAV
Award of Excellence: The Good In You PSA – Crosby Marketing and HRSA

Best in Maryland: 2020 Scholarly Journals Catalog – Johns Hopkins University Press

Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance

SOCIAL MEDIA – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt
Best in Maryland: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance
Award of Excellence: MilSpouse Appreciation Day – Crosby Marketing and Military OneSource
Award of Excellence: Move Over Law Safety Campaign – Maryland State Highway Administration

Best in Maryland: Afya Video – The Hatcher Group
Award of Excellence: Virtual Ribbon Cutting for Watkins Mill Interchange – Maryland State Highway Administration

Best in Maryland: Secom, LLC Website Redesign – IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations
Award of Excellence: FineFix – Maryland Auto Insurance
Award of Excellence: New Project Portal Explains Highway Construction – Maryland State Highway Administration

BIM 20 sponsors included Abel Communications; Bay Media, Inc.; Pixilated; Researchscape; The Hatcher Group; HBP; and Dr. David Marshall, APR, and PRSA-MD president-elect.

The Maryland Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America was established in 1961 to help public relations and communications professionals stay connected professionally and personally. As part of the nation’s largest organization of communication professionals, PRSA Maryland offers networking, training, resources and support to help members in their practice of public relations.

The results are in: Congratulations to 2020 Best in Maryland Finalists!

The following organizations will win a Best in Maryland or Award of Excellence.

Attend the gala on December 10, 2020, for the reveal.

Now it is time to celebrate. Please join us on December 10, 6:00 – 7:30 PM for our 2020 Virtual Best in Maryland (BIM) Awards Gala! During the evening, we will announce winners in 26 categories. We will also honor our professional award recipients including Lifetime Achievement, Paul E. Welsh, Educator of the Year, Rising Star, Partner of Distinction, and PR Team of the Year. And the top prize, Best in Show, will round out our night, so stay seated even after your first win!

The event is free so bring the whole team. Register today. All you need to do is BYOB, find a comfy chair and let the celebration begin! We will host a bartender, games, polls, virtual sponsor booths, and giveaways. Have a question? Contact us at info@prsamd.org or 443-283-8060.

Support the event while increasing your organization’s visibility!

We have unique sponsorship opportunities available.

Chapter member Ashlene Larson has been selected by The Daily Record to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards

Ad Agency Leader Ashlene Larson Named One of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women

The Daily Record Recognizes the Next Generation of Maryland’s Women Leaders

Ashlene-LarsonBaltimore, Md., (October 15, 2020) — The Daily Record selected Ashlene Larson, director of public relations and social media for the award-winning, Baltimore-based advertising agency, Planit, to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards.

“This year’s Leading Women are professionally accomplished, involved in their communities and committed to making a difference and inspiring change,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, group publisher of The Daily Record. “They are the next generation of leaders in Maryland, and The Daily Record is pleased to recognize their achievements.”

The Daily Record’s Leading Women awards honor women who are 40 years of age or younger for the accomplishments they have made so far in their careers. A panel of previous Top 100 Women and Leading Women winners selected the honorees based on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.

“We are thrilled, but not surprised, that Ashlene was named to this year’s Leading Women honorees,” said Matt Doud, president and co-founder of Planit. “While she certainly brings a unique and critical perspective to the field of public relations, resulting in worldwide news stories for our clients, it is her passion – her commitment – to mentoring the next generation of PR professionals and her never-ending crusade to elevate working moms that make her an invaluable leader. Ashlene has helped architect policies for the betterment of all employees at Planit while simultaneously serving as a changemaker, a mentor, and an unstoppable force in our industry.”

Larson moved to Baltimore from Canada in 2009 during a recession, continuing a career in PR where she immediately had to assimilate to an entirely different country, American culture, and the PR/media market. Ten years later, Larson leads an award-winning PR team at Planit. Due to her strategic leadership and vision, Planit’s PR & Social Team won the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland’s 2019 PR Team of the Year.

Larson is an active pillar in the community. She is a volunteer within the PR and advertising agency, but also within the community via Girl Scouts and St. Vincent de Paul. She currently serves on the Board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of Baltimore, a position held since 2015, where she also chairs the PR Committee and is the current Second Vice President. Through this volunteerism, she has traveled to Annapolis on behalf of the Federation’s members and the advertising community to oppose a digital tax, which was recently voted down. Larson is a published thought leader featured in WYPR, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and more. She also gives back to the industry through speaking engagements with Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland and the AAF on the topics of crisis communications and PR, and by serving as a judge for the PRSA Maryland ARC Awards in 2019.

To view The Daily Record’s complete list of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women, visit https://thedailyrecord.com/leading-women/winners/.


About Planit
We’re Planit. A strategic, digitally-minded agency that leads revolutions for national and global clients. Whether that’s through a variety of media channels, PR, social, or the “next big thing”—if it isn’t bold, creative, and smart, we’re not doing our job. That’s why clients including Royal Building Products, Kiddie Academy, Sheetz, Barclays US, and The AMES Companies trust Planit. And that’s why we continue to receive stellar industry recognition, including being named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List, winning the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award, and Advertising Age’s Small Agency of the Year.

We’re moving ahead and celebrating our successes!

Best in Maryland Call for Entries is now open! Early deadline is August 31, 2020; final deadline is September 15, 2020.

Remember a time before the pandemic when you completed an award-worthy project, campaign or single tactic that wasn’t tied to COVID-19? And, can you believe you have produced more incredible work because of coronavirus?

We want to celebrate all of those accomplishments with the 2020 Best in Maryland Awards. This year’s program will feature two new awards recognizing how PR and Communications Professionals have stepped up to the challenges brought to us by this year’s pandemic and the racial justice movement.

  • COVID-19 COMMUNICATIONS (Campaign Award) – 2020 has been particularly crisis-oriented as the entire world continues to deal with a global pandemic. This new category includes programs designed to address issues resulting directly from the novel coronavirus and its effects on industry throughout the world. Entries can entail any work done to address COVID-19-related issues through the time of the award deadline. Given the circumstances of this pandemic, leniency will be employed when considering supporting documents, research, and results.
  • DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (Professional Award) – PRSA Maryland is committed to building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices for racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, and gender differences, as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization. This award recognizes PR firms and organizations that have developed strategies, established more diverse workplace environments, and have established management programs to help minority groups and LGBT practitioners move up the employment ladder.

We will celebrate virtually and creatively in December, toasting to the achievements of our colleagues and friends.  Details TBA.

Best in Maryland also honors those who have made great contributions to our profession and provides a communications student with a scholarship!

Click here for categories, guidelines and more!

PRSA MD Volunteers Deliver Big for Sister Chapter

A small army of The Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter collaborated on a project to help colleagues six states away have their big moment in the sun.

Twenty-eight volunteers from PRSA Maryland judged The Public Relations Society of America Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter’s annual Paragon Awards, the highest professional salute that chapter gives.

“This was just an amazing team of colleagues to work with,” said PRSA MD Board member Dr. David Marshall, APR, who coordinated the judging this year for PRSA MD. “As soon as the call went out for help, people responded right away and worked tirelessly to give each entry a very thorough review. Our members completed the process with distinction and on time.”

The judging took place in April over 22 days. Leaders from PRSA SE Wisconsin announced the winners last month.

“This was the first time I have participated in a PRSA MD offering. Serving as a judge not only was rewarding, but it provided me with some terrific ideas that I was immediately able to bring back to my own work,” said Anthony Naglieri, Senior Director of External Affairs at Cultural Vistas.

“It was awesome to see this come together,” said Kaletha Henry, Owner and Director of Be Local Go Global. “I was very excited for the opportunity to participate as a judge and review each agency’s submission. I learned a lot. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in Public Relations.”

There were 46 entries across a number of categories covering tactics and programs. Each submission was reviewed by two judges on a 0-50 point scale. Judges considered research, clear objectives and target audiences, comprehensive planning and budgeting, creativity and execution, and evaluation against the stated objectives.

“I absolutely love serving as a judge of PRSA National and Chapter awards,” said Dan Dunne, APR, Director of External Communications for Erickson Living, and PRSA College of Fellows member. “It affords a perfect opportunity to learn from today’s exceptional communication professionals who share accomplishments that inspire me to always seek creative and innovative ways to serve others.”

The magic in this year’s judging may have been the result of the diversity of the judging panel according to Marshall. Based on the list of judges, they represented every segment of chapter membership from first-time judges to more seasoned practitioners, APRs, a College of Fellows member, academics, and a number of professional award winners. Some judges teamed up with old colleagues. Others expanded their professional network by collaborating with someone new.

I appreciated the opportunity and am grateful for being asked. I really enjoyed doing this. I hope the feedback I provided was good and that I’ll be considered for this type of service again in the future,” said Dr. Melanie Formentin, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Towson University.

Each year PRSA Chapters around the country coordinate to determine which chapters will judge each other’s entries. The chapter that will judge The PRSA MD 2020 Best in Maryland Awards in December has not been named yet.

You can read more about the Paragon Awards below:

2020 Paragon Winners


This year’s panel of judges included:

Ragina C. Ali
Manager, Public & Government Affairs
AAA Mid-Atlantic

Linda Anderson
Advisor, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications
Office of Communications
Social Security Administration

Dani Baldassare
Regional Communications Manager
Erickson Living

Nikki Bracy
Social Media Supervisor

Berry Brady
Director, Media Relations
Full Tilt Consulting

Claudia Ciolfi, WCP®
Senior Manager of Public Relations and Communications
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Duane A. Carey
IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations.

Tyanna L. Collins, MBA
Marketing Specialist
ChristianaCare, Union Hospital

Kendall Dougherty
PR & Social Media Manager

Molly Dressel
Account Manager
Abel Communications

Jana Duckett, MA
Assistant Professor
Strategic Communication
Morgan State University

Daniel R. Dunne, APR, PRSA College of Fellows
Director of External Communications
Erickson Living

Melanie Formentin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Mass Communication
Towson University

Dianna N. Fornaro, M.A., APR, AINS
Senior Communications Specialist
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Christine Frey, APR
Senior Corporate Communications & Patient Education Manager
American Urological Association

Kaletha Henry
Be Local Go Global

David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and Chair
Department of Strategic Communication
School of Global Journalism & Communication
Morgan State University

Michael MacFee
Grant Writer
Maryland Public Television

Greta McNally
Corporate Communications Trainee
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Joonwoo Moon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Strategic Communication
School of Global Journalism & Communication

Anthony Naglieri
Sr. Director of External Affairs
Cultural Vistas

Christina Perry
Public Relations Supervisor

Janice E. Smith, Ph.D., APR
Assistant Professor and Director, The Strategy Shop
Department of Strategic Communication
School of Global Journalism & Communication
Morgan State University

Kelly A. Stoll, APR
Senior Strategic Communications Specialist
Strategic Communications Services

Jim Taylor
Communications Director
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Pattie Yu
The Yu Crew and PRSA Maryland Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Lorianne Walker
Account Manager
Abel Communications

Tom Williams, APR
Managing Director, Communications
Maryland Public Television

2020 Best in Maryland Awards – To be or not to be? That isn’t the only question!

As 2020 is fast becoming the year on pause, the PRSA Maryland Board of Directors is looking ahead to this year’s Best in Maryland Awards Gala, which is annually held in December. Will members feel safe enough to attend? Will stay at home orders be in effect? Will award submissions still be in the budget? The board doesn’t have a crystal ball, but luckily it can ask its members to gain insight and perspective.

Please take five minutes to respond to our quick 5-question poll. Your responses will help guide this year’s decision to move forward with the 2020 Best in Maryland Awards or hold a combined event and make it extra fabulous next year.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to respond. Looking forward to your feedback!

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