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More #BIM18 Tips for Creating that Award-winning Entry!

Here are some tips from past winners to help you bring home that award.

#1: The military calls it “lessons learned.”

“Before you dive into this year’s award entries, take a moment to review previous entries – winning submissions and non-winners alike – with special attention to where the entry submissions excelled, where they may have fallen short, and how they could have been improved. Take these lessons learned from previous entries and apply them to your current submissions.”

“Entering for the first time? Tap colleagues who are willing to share entries they’ve submitted to previous Best in Maryland competitions. You’ll be able to conduct the same “lessons learned” review of the entries, and you may even pick up an idea or two that you hadn’t thought of including in your own submissions!” – Tom Williams, APR, Maryland Public Television

#2: Bookmark the entry guidelines webpage and review its contents often.

“In addition to providing specific directions for each of the four categories that are required of all entry submissions, the page provides several questions your team’s submissions must answer.”

“Once your entry is ready for submission, conduct a final check by going over each question posed on the guidelines webpage and your team’s answer to each. All done? Send in your entry – and best wishes for your success!” – Fran Minakowski, APR, Fellow PRSA, Maryland Public Television

#3: Focus on what makes your campaign unique.

“Try thinking about your campaign from beginning to end and pick out the points that make it most unique. Consider the different award categories and try to think where the unique aspect of your campaign will stand out the most. While there may be a lot of competition, using the most original and most creative aspects of your campaign as a competitive edge will make you stand out to the judges, especially in specific award categories. The BIM Early Bird deadline is fast approaching, and you don’t want to miss it! Submit by August 31.” – Claire Howachyn, Van Eperen

#4: Use resources to your advantage
“Another great source is the PRSA Silver Anvil case studies that are available online. Those case studies will give you great guidance on how to prepare your BIM award entry.” – Lisa Miles, past chapter president and awards judge

Want to see more? Click here and here for tips from past winners and judges.

Working on your #BIM18 entries?

Post was originally published August 2017 but still relevant!

Did you know that every year, we see entries get pushed aside not because the campaign or component wasn’t creative, effective and successful, but because the entry wasn’t – as in wasn’t creative, effective, well-presented.

It’s not enough to show what you did – you need to show how you did it and the outcome of the project.

To help answer any nagging questions you may have, here are some things to consider as you complete your entries:

Before Preparing Your Entry:

  • Take the time to determine if your entry is truly award-winning. Did you make an impact on the organization’s bottom-line? Was there a reason for doing the program in the first place? If you can’t come up with a good reason for doing the award entry (besides “my boss wants me to do it”), you will have a hard time putting it together.
  • Know the entry criteria. Many award entries are submitted without measurable objectives or outcomes, budgets or timelines. If you leave out information that is requested in the entry form, you will lose points. If you follow the four-step strategic planning process for program entries (Research, Planning, Execution and Evaluation), you are more likely to have a good entry.


  • Think long and hard about your objectives. They should outline what you’re trying to accomplish as a result of your entry. Remember, the objective is not the entry itself.
  • Objectives should be SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

Research/Evaluation (these tend to be the weakest areas for many entries):

  • You might have done informal research without even realizing it. Look back at your records; did you talk with personal contacts, key informants, advisory committees and boards, and field employees about the issue? That’s informal research. Your evaluation should iterate your objectives verbatim and then show how you achieved them specifically.
  • Even though qualitative data can work for evaluation purposes and explaining results, it’s always good to build in quantitative data as well.
  • Identify ways you can evaluate a program and build evaluation in at the beginning. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can still plan some measurement capability.

Supporting Materials:

  • Provide back-up materials for your summary. If you talk about something in your one- or two-page summary, please include with your submission.  The judges want to see evidence of your hard work, so be sure to show it off!

Before Submitting to the Awards Committee:

  • Don’t worry if one of your sections isn’t as strong as another. As long as the section is addressed, it should be okay.
  • When in doubt, submit. Forces beyond your control – such as the number of entrants in a category, judges’ prerogatives, etc. – have a lot to do with winning. Besides, the exercise you go through in assessing your work and putting it together according to PRSA qualifications is worth the exercise, because it sets you up to evaluate your own work. You can often make use of this in making a case for continuing a program, launching a new one, or increasing the budget to do more.
  • Proofread your entry carefully! If you have a typo in the summary (which we’ve seen happen!), the judges are very likely to take your entry less seriously than they would that of a well-written summary.

And of course, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@prsamd.org or call our chapter office at 301-725-2508 and ask away.

Here’s an important tip from past winner Dianna Fornaro, APR, Chesapeake Employers Insurance:

Follow the 4-step process:

“Points are awarded for each section – Research, Planning, Execution and Evaluation – so omitting or going light on any one of them will reduce your score. Give sufficient weight to each of the sections to ensure you cover all that is asked within the rules. Consider measurable objectives, the research methodologies, target audiences and how best to reach them, key tactics and challenges, the results, and how they tie back to the objectives. Then consider your supporting materials and match them to the four sections.” 

Want to see more? Click here and here for tips from past winners and judges.

Click here to return to Entry Guidelines.

Design courtesy of Lisa Fargnoli

Printing courtesy of in Tandem Design

Thank you to our volunteer judges!

We put out the call for volunteers to help judge the Central Michigan PACE Awards and these volunteers heeded the call!

To get it all done, nine teams judged 84 entries (36 campaigns/48 tactics) in 24 categories. While some teams met in person, others judged virtually (check out Pattie’s team in action via Skype below). And they did it all in just 2 weeks!

So a huge THANK YOU to …

Cami Colarossi, Notre Dame Preparatory School

Elizabeth Homan, Howard Community College

Angie Hamlet, Anne Arundel Community College

Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Dianna Fornaro, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Lisa Brusio Coster, Coster Communications, LTD

Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot Public Relations

Pattie Yu, The Yu Crew LLC

Berry Brady

Bill Furmanski

Phillip Yerby, Weber Shandwick

Kaitlyn McCoach, Weber Shandwick

Chuck Fitzgibbon, Weber Shandwick

Kara Joyce, Crosby Marketing Communications

Becky Ceraul, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Malissa Carroll, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Erin Merino, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Nancy Sherman, Caroline Center

Duane Carey, IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations

Joe Bawol, IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations

Peggy Hoffman, Mariner Management

What’s our next step? Launching our own 2018 Call for Entries! Watch your in-boxes and mailboxes for details in late spring.

Call for Judges for Central Michigan PACE Awards

We’re looking for a few (or many) PR pros to serve as judges for the Central Michigan PACE awards. Judging is expected to begin around February 19 and last approximately two weeks (exact dates TBD).

As a judge, you will have the opportunity to peruse the entries and see what others are doing. And, since you will be joining a team, judging provides an opportunity to connect with other Maryland Chapter members and to share ideas

Are you an APR? You can get continuing education credits for judging.

Where does all of this take place? Well, there are options … You can host a group in your office. Make it a staff event, if you’d like. If you prefer to meet other members, you can join another group. Can’t get out of the office? You also can judge virtually. We’ll assign you a team and send you the entries electronically. Just let us know and we’ll do some match-making.

Sound interesting? Get more information and sign up via this short survey by February 9. If you have a team – your staff or department employees or a group of peers – just let us know on the survey and provide the key contact. If you don’t have a team, we will find a partner for you.

Finally, we welcome as many judges as possible (the more judges, the less categories each team has to review) so feel free to recruit a colleague or two to be part of your team. Simply share this link and we’ll do the rest.


Golin wins “Best in Show” for National Aquarium Dolphin Sanctuary Announcement

Pictured: Lauren Hartman and Corinne Weaver, National Aquamarine, with Claudia Ciolfi, PRSA Maryland Chapter President. Photo courtesy of Coyle Studios.

Golin received the “Best in Show” award for the National Aquarium Dolphin Sanctuary Announcement at the 2017 “Best in Maryland” awards gala, held on December 6, 2017. The agency was recognized for its strategic efforts in media relations and brand management for the 2016 campaign.   

Golin won for its success of the announcement’s wide publication and favorable reception.  Animal advocates, zoo and aquarium communities, and many others in the Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay area supported the Aquarium’s news. It also received praise in People magazine’s “Top Stories That Made Us Happy This Week.” A key element of Golin’s success was its attention to the Aquarium’s reputation and brand.

In total, 42 “Best in Maryland” awardees were acknowledged for their outstanding works in public relations, communications, and marketing in the state of Maryland. Devaney & Associates and Crosby Marketing Communications took five awards each – the most received by a single agency during the PRSA Maryland chapter event.

Other honorees include Daniel Dunne, APR, External Communications, Erickson Living, as Lifetime Achievement honoree; Nancy Sherman, Director of Communications and Marketing, Caroline Center, as the inaugural Paul E. Welsh recipient; Dana Vickers Shelly, MPA, Department of Strategic Communications, Morgan State University, as Educator of the Year; the Maryland Auto Insurance Marketing and Communications Team as PR Team of the Year; Molly Dressel, Senior Account Executive, Abel Communications, as Rising Star; and Coyle Studios as Partner of Distinction. Also recognized were Maryland Chapter volunteers Emily McDermott, Account Supervisor/Project Manager, Van Eperen; and Dani Baldassare, Public Affairs Manager, Erickson Living.

T.J. Smith, chief, media relations section of the Baltimore Police Department served as master of ceremonies for the event, which was held at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore, Maryland.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

Click here to see who was there!

Check us out on Baltimore Snapchat. 


Dan Dunne to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at PRSA Maryland ‘Best in Maryland’ Awards Gala

Erickson Living’s Director of External Communications to be honored for distinguished public relations and communications career

With a nearly 30 years of proven public relations and communications experience, Dan Dunne, APR, has been selected as the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (PRSA-MD).  Dunne, former PRSA President (2016) and current PRSA MD Board member, will be honored at the association’s Best in Maryland gala on December 6, at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore.

“Dan’s civil service and private sector communication careers have been marked by exceptional experiences and achievements,” said former PRSA MD President Jeff Davis. “His passion for the public relations and communication profession is contagious, as is his desire to serve as a mentor and support Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter members at Loyola University Maryland, Towson University, and Morgan State, in their education and career pursuits.”

Throughout his 28-year Federal law enforcement career with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), nearly two years operating his own public relations consulting business, as well as 11-year career with Erickson Living, Dunne has served in multiple professional communicator roles. As a national spokesperson at BOP headquarters in Washington, D.C., Dunne was faced with having to manage a myriad of critical incident situations. For example, he played a key role in developing the communication strategy for managing the 1,600 news media representatives who descended on the United States Penitentiary, Terra Haute, Indiana, to covered the execution of Timothy McVeigh (2001). 

As Erickson Living’s Director of External Communication, Dunne serves as the company’s chief spokesperson and oversees a team of regional communication professionals responsible for integrated communication support, including social media administration and crisis communications. Last year, Erickson Living’s communication team received a PRSA MD Best in Maryland Award for its Frank Sinatra 100th Birthday National Celebration Campaign. Erickson Living is one of the nation’s most respected leaders in building and managing continuing care retirement communities and currently in Maryland manages Charlestown, Oak Crest and Riderwood. The company is also currently considering developing a continuing care retirement community in Howard County

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.  

Also to be honored are Dana Vickers Shelley, Morgan State University, as Educator of the Year; Nancy Sherman, Caroline Center, as the inaugural recipient of the Paul E. Welsh Award; Molly Dressel, Abel Communications, as Rising Star; Maryland Auto Insurance Marketing and Communications Team as PR Team of the Year; and Coyle Studios as Partner of Distinction. Click here for more information on all our honorees. 

Awards will be presented at the PRSA Maryland 2017 Best in Maryland Gala on December 6 at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. The evening will also include awards presentations for excellence in public relations campaigns in 24 categories culminating in the reveal of Best in Show. Click here for more information and to register. 

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors