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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.

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!

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!

Announcing our 2019 Best in Maryland Award Winners

Sandy Hillman Communications Takes Best in Show.


On December 4, Maryland PR/communications pros, students and other guests gathered at the Mt. Washington Dye House in Baltimore for the 2019 Best in Maryland Awards program. During the program, the Maryland Chapter presented awards in 23 categories, six professional awards, and revealed the Best in Show which was presented to Sandy Hillman Communications for “The National WWI Museum and Memorial WWI Centennial.”

The evening began with a reception complete with an array of hors d’oeuvres and food stations where guests mingled and celebrated the year’s successes. The awards program featuring Deborah Weiner of WBAL-TV as emcee followed. After the awards presentation, guests were treated to a dessert table of incredible sweets. 

Congratulations to all the award winners and honorees!

Professional Awards

Click here to learn more about our honorees.

Lifetime Achievement – Barb Clapp, Barb Clapp Advertising & Marketing, LLC

Paul E Welsh -Emily McDermott, Van Eperen

Educator of the Year – David Marshall, Ph.D., APR, Morgan State University

Rising Star – Lorraine Walker, Able Communications

PR Team – Planit: Christina Perry, Ashlene Larson, Nikki Bracy, Jennifer Donahoe, Harry Hammel, Kendall Dougherty

Volunteer of the Year – Dianna Fornaro, APR Chair, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Best in Maryland Awards Winners

Click here for summaries of winning entries.


Annual Reports

Best in Maryland – 2018 Annual Impact Report, The Nature Conservancy Maryland/DC

Best Use of Influencer Communication

Best in Maryland – LiveAbode Influencer Campaign, Planit and Royal Building Products

Award of Excellence – Facebook Live Somos Baltimore Latino, Maryland Auto Insurance

Creative Tactics – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt

Best in Maryland“Best Foot Forward” Employee Engagement Socks, LifeBridge Health

Creative Tactics – For Profit

Best in MarylandLyft Ride Smart Maryland, Abel Communications

Editorial/Op-Ed Columns/Story Placement

Best in MarylandByline Series: You Can Do What with a Library Card?, The Cyphers Agency

Award of Excellence – National Apartment Association Op-Ed Program with Robert Pinnegar, Abel Communications

Magazines/Newsletters – Digital

Best in MarylandJohns Hopkins’ Hopkins on Alert Newsletter, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Media Relations – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt

Best in MarylandFlying Queens Make the Hall of Fame, Abel Communications & Harrison Communications

Award of Excellence – Poe Baltimore, Coster Communications, Ltd.

Award of ExcellenceASK4ME: Two Prongs to Promote the New Bay Plate, The Cyphers Agency

Media Relations – For Profit

Best in Maryland – Cirque du Soleil: Crystal – Baltimore, Weinberg Harris & Associates

Award of Excellence – BrightFarms Series D Funding Announcement, Abel Communications


Best in Maryland – A Valuable Perspective: Roland Park Place, Weinberg Harris & Associates


Best in Maryland – National Recovery Month, Crosby Marketing Communications


Best in Maryland – MPT 50th Anniversary History Book, Maryland Public Television

Award of Excellence – JHU Press 2019 Scholarly Journals Catalog, Johns Hopkins University Press


Best in Maryland – Exploring the Spirit of Sagamore Brand, Van Eperen

Social Media – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt

Best in Maryland – MDOT SHA Explains Winter Weather Safety, MDOT State Highway Administration

Award of Excellence – 13 Folds of the American Flag, Crosby Marketing Communications


Best in Maryland – Fighting the Celiac Monster, Crosby Marketing Communications

Award of ExcellenceDeal Island: Maryland’s Green Suit of Armor, The Nature Conservancy Maryland/DC 


Best in MarylandBaltimore City Health Department “U=U Maryland”, Devaney & Associates and Chase Brexton Health Care

Award of Excellence – Thank-A-Vet Web App, Crosby Marketing Communications


Community Relations

Best in Maryland – Toyota Promotes ‘Mobility for All’ with Girls Scouts of Northeast Texas, imre

Award of Excellence Maryland Health Connection Open Enrollment 6, Sandy Hillman Communications

Events and Observances < 7 days

Best in Maryland – Vintage Festival, A. Bright Idea

Award of Excellence – BrightFarms Share the Harvest, Abel Communications

Award of ExcellenceGrand Opening – Springwell Senior Living’s The Homestead, Clapp Communications

Events and Observances > 7 days

Best in MarylandThe National WWI Museum and Memorial WWI Centennial, Sandy Hillman Communications

Integrated Communications

Best in MarylandBGE’s Natural Gas Safety Campaign, BGE

Award of Excellence Victories for Veterans, Crosby Marketing Communications


Best in Maryland – Great Escape New Business Campaign, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Award of Excellence – Len the Plumber Magnet Postcard Campaign, Victory-360, LLC


Award of Excellence – Los Taxes Mailer, Maryland Auto Insurance

Public Service

Best in Maryland – Victories for Veterans PSA Campaign, Crosby Marketing Communications

Award of Excellence – HASA Hearing Hospitality, Abel Communications

Award of Excellence – Vectren “Don’t Be That Guy” Public Safety Campaign, Devaney & Associates

Reputation/Brand Management

Best in Maryland – Maryland Philanthropy Network Rebrand, Clapp Communications

Click here for summaries of winning entries.

A Special Thank you to …

Chesapeake Employer’s Insurance Company for sponsoring the valet service, Abel Communications for sponsoring our Educator of the Year award, and Van Eperen for sponsoring the reception.

To A. Bright Idea, Maryland Public Television, and Sandy Hillman Communications for sponsoring the dessert bar.

To tabletop sponsors Clapp 360 Communications, Coster Communications, Ltd., and Planit for your contributions.

To Devaney & Associates for creating the #BIM19 designs, Coyle Studios for documenting the event through pictures (check out this sneak peek on Facebook), Crown Trophies for the assisting with the awards, and Strategic Factory for serving our printing needs.

And to our event chair David Harrison, Harrison Communications, for bringing this all together.

Your generous support is greatly appreciated!

*This year’s awards were judged by PRSA San Antonio Chapter.





PRSA Maryland Recognizes Barb Clapp for the Lifetime Achievement Award at PRSA Maryland ‘Best in Maryland’ Awards Gala

Barb Clapp has been selected as the 2019 Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Clapp, founder of Barb Clapp Advertising & Marketing LLC, will be recognized at the Best in Maryland Awards Gala on December 4 at Mt. Washington Mill Dye House. The Awards Gala will also recognize the Rising Star, Paul E. Welsh Professional and Educator of the Year winners as well as Best In Maryland PR awards.

Barb Clapp started out conducting business from her attic and grew the firm to be one of Baltimore’s most respected full-service agencies as well as a nationally recognized PR juggernaut.  She has more than 30 years of experience to public relations, marketing, and business development. Clapp has been recognized for other leadership awards, such as the CEO Report’s Mid-Atlantic Women’s Leadership Award, The Daily Record’s Most Influential Marylander, Most Admired CEO, Top 100 Women, and induction into both the Circle of Leadership and Circle of Excellence.

PRSA Maryland’s Lifetime Achievement Award honors a public relations professional whose career spans 20 years or more and who has exhibited extraordinary achievements, demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field of public relations and upholds the PRSA Code of Ethics.

Other honorees of the evening will include Educator of the Year David Marshall, Ph.D. from Morgan State University; Rising Star Lorianne Walker of Abel Communications; and Paul E Welsh recipient Emily McDermott of Van Eperen. Click here to learn more about the professional awards honorees.

“Recognizing PR professionals for career milestones has been an honor we have bestowed since 1961. I am honored to be amongst their ranks and am proud to award this year’s outstanding leaders, some of whom I know personally,” said Lisa Brusio Coster, Chapter President and president of Coster Communications.

In addition to the professional awards, winners in 23 categories will be announced culminating in the final award, the coveted Best in Show. Full list of honorees and nominees can be viewed here.

Click here for more information on the Gala.


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