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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. 

Dana Vickers Shelley Named 2017 Educator of the Year

Morgan State University Faculty Member Honored With Best In Maryland Award

Public Relations Society of America Maryland Board of Directors announced its selection of Dana Vickers Shelley as its 2017 Public Relations Educator of the Year. A strategic communication faculty member at Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication since 2014, Shelley will be formally recognized at PRSA Maryland’s “Best In Maryland” awards program on December 6.

“We are delighted to recognize Dana Vickers Shelley for preparing the next generation of public relations practitioners and industry leaders,” said Claudia Ciolfi, President of PRSA Maryland and Manager of Public Relations and Strategic Communications at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company. “Her efforts this year resulted in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) authorizing Morgan State University’s first Chapter, and underscore Dana’s commitment to guiding students from academic to professional success.”

Prior to Morgan State University, Shelley was director of public affairs for Southern Poverty Law Center, director of strategic communications at Annie E. Casey Foundation, and senior vice president at Fenton Communications and Edelman. Shelley has advised CEOs and senior leaders at Maryland-based organizations including Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by my colleagues in Maryland’s public relations industry with this award,” said Shelley. “Developing communicators whose advice and expertise will contribute to the success of enterprises and organizations in the future is most rewarding.”

Shelley holds an MPA in Executive Leadership from American University and a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of PRSA-Maryland, American Association of University Women, National Association of Black Journalists, and Native American Journalists Association.

Also to be honored are Daniel Dunne, APR, as Lifetime Achievement recipient; 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. 


Congratulations to our “Best in Maryland” 2017 Nominees!

The Results are in! It is with great pleasure that we announce the following submissions have been nominated for a Best in Maryland Award!




U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week – A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations

MRIS’ Most Expensive Homes Sold – Abel Communications

200 Years of Moving Smart Energy Forward – BGE with Weber Shandwick

myBWI – BWI Marshall Airport with Weber Shandwick

Carroll Hospice Campaign – Carroll Hospital and Devaney & Associates

Carroll Hospital’s A Healthy Dose Magazine – Carroll Hospital and Devaney & Associates

2016 Chase Brexton Health Care Annual Report – Chase Brexton and Devaney & Associates

Chesapeake Brand Stand – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Forum News – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Protecting Every Workday – 2015 Annual Report – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

What Employers Should Know about Opioids and Injured Workers – Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Coldwell Banker’s Play it Forward Campaign – Clapp Communications

Howard County OAI 50+EXPO – Coster Communications

“Victories for Veterans” – Crosby Marketing Communications

Driving Organ Donation Awareness Through Video Content – Crosby Marketing Communications

Invasive Species “Mark Trail” Comic Strip – Crosby Marketing Communications

Thank A Vet App and Social Engagement Program – Crosby Marketing Communications

National Aquarium Dolphin Sanctuary Announcement – Golin

Zika Preparedness Efforts – Johns Hopkins Medicine

JHU Press Journals Podcasts – Johns Hopkins University Press

Leadership Maryland finds “The Strength Within” – Leadership Maryland and Devaney & Associates

How Ethiopia Can Overcome the Worst Drought in 50 Years – Lutheran World Relief

The 2017 Early Warning Forecast – Lutheran World Relief

Honoring Veterans – Lyons PR

It’s a Great School Year! – Lyons PR

Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism – Mariner Management & Whorton Marketing & Research

Maryland Auto Monthly – Maryland Auto Insurance

“MPT Salutes Vietnam Veterans” Initiative – Maryland Public Television

Reflections – “MPT Salutes Vietnam Veterans” – Maryland Public Television

“MPT Salutes Vietnam Veterans” Video – Maryland Public Television

E-Road Ready – Maryland State Highway Administration

In Your Hands – Maryland State Highway Administration

Ocean City Walk Smart – Maryland State Highway Administration

Work Zone Safety – Maryland State Highway Administration

Stress Experienced around the 2016 Election – American Psychological Association & News Generation

Route One Apparel Becomes the Face of Maryland Pride – Route One Apparel and Devaney & Associates

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Online Giving Day – University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Ingleside at King Farm – Van Eperen

Launch Podcast: Stories About Start-Ups – Van Eperen

Maryland Municipal League:Time to Talk – Van Eperen


Winners will be announced on December 6 at the 2017 Best in Maryland Gala in the beautiful Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. Join us as we celebrate another successful year in Maryland PR and Communications. We’ll also honor two specially nominated individuals with the Lifetime Achievement and Paul E. Welsh Awards, and award the Educator of the Year, Rising Star and Partner of Distinction. Our grand finale is the reveal of the BEST IN SHOW! Click here for details and registration information.

A special thank you to our judging team from Central California which did an awesome job (they were tough!).

Announcing our 2017 ‘Best in Maryland’ Professional Award Honorees

The votes are in. And we’re gearing up to salute four individuals and two teams at the 2017 Best in Maryland Gala on December 6 at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Baltimore. Join us in congratulating our 2017 Honorees …

Daniel R. Dunne, APR, a highly regarded leader and mentor in the competitive public relations and communication field, will receive this year’s top honors as Lifetime Achievement recipient. Dan’s civil service and private sector careers have been marked by a passion to serve others in ways that help achieve key organizational goals and objectives and inspire innovation.

Nancy Sherman, director of marketing and communications at Caroline Center, is the inaugural recipient of the Paul E. Welsh Award and will be honored for her work in public relations and communications, which she describes as having “deep Baltimore roots.”

Dana Vickers Shelley, lecturer and PRSSA faculty advisor, Department of Strategic Communication at Morgan State University will receive the Educator of the Year for her commitment to the professional practice of public relations; the positive and inspirational effect she has on each student she encounters; and, for establishing the first PRSSA Chapter at Morgan State University.

Molly Dressel of Abel Communications is the 2017 Rising Star. Molly will be honored for her impressive early accomplishments, her ardent spirit for volunteering, and for the promise she continues to show as a new public relations professional.

Maryland Auto Insurance Marketing and Communications Team is the 2017 PR Team of the Year. This amazing team of professionals will be recognized for successfully leading the 40-year-old organization through a complete corporate re-brand.

Coyle Studios will be recognized as this year’s Partner of Distinction. The talented creative team will be honored for their ongoing support of PRSA Maryland and for the many ways they are helping shape the face of the public relations industry throughout Baltimore.

Click here for more information on all our honorees. 

The evening will include the Best in Maryland Awards ceremony where awards will be presented for excellence in public relations in 24 categories culminating in the reveal of Best in Show. Click here for more information and to register. 

Call for Nominations for Professional Awards is Open!

The Best in Maryland Awards program is not just about the call for entries. The Professional Awards are a major part of the program, honoring new and seasoned PR pros for their individual contributions and successes. You can be part of this by submitting a nomination in one or more of the following categories …

Lifetime Achievement – PRSA Maryland’s top award recognizes long-time PR pros who have exhibited extraordinary achievements and demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field. Past LT winners include Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA; Ralph Crosby; Bonnie K. Heneson; Helen Szablya; Jody Aud, and more. Help us continue this tradition by submitting your choice for this top honor.

PR Team Award – We all know that most great PR programs are a team effort. This is a chance to honor your high-performing communications team for its outstanding support of your clients’ and your organization’s communications objectives. New last year, it was a tough competition with Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company taking home the honor. Nominate your team and be the second to receive this award.

Rising Star (formerly New Professional of the Year) – This award is like a jump start to those just starting out in PR or communications by honoring their dedication and commitment to being the best. This year, we’ve extended the requirement from three or fewer years to five or fewer years, which should make it even more competitive. This category heats up so don’t delay.

Educator of the Year – Educators are an integral part of our industry building strong public relations/communications programs and inspiring PR pros of tomorrow. This award is for those teachers/professors who go above and beyond that task. Past recipients include educators from Loyola University Maryland, Towson University and Stevenson University. There are many more great programs out there; nominate your favorite teacher.

Partner of Distinction – Let’s not forget another important team member – our vendors. This award honors those organizations which through their services have shown overwhelming support of a public relations/communications program or the profession as a whole. They go above and beyond to make your program a success. Let us know who they are by submitting a nomination.

And our newest award named in honor of past Chapter president and long-time PRSA member …

Paul E. Welsh Award – We can’t forget our colleagues that are mid-career stars. This award honors PR pros who are successful in the field with at least 10 years’ experience. Paul E Welsh is credited with creating our state’s nickname, “America in Miniature.” What better way to honor the past and the present.

Click here for more information and nomination forms!


Sponsorship Opportunities … 

Want to show your support of these awards while getting in front of the Maryland PR community?  Become a PROFESSIONAL AWARDS HOST. Not only will you be featured on the PRSA Maryland Web site and in 2017 BIM magazine (new this year), you’ll also present the awards during the 2017 Best in Maryland Gala on December 6 at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court.

Not interested in being an awards host? We also plenty of other sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Click here for a full list.

Best in Maryland Sponsors to date …





Still working on your 2017 Best In Maryland entries?

Or have you finished them, but just not sure if they’re good enough? 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@dev.growsocially.biz or call our chapter office at 301-725-2508 and ask away.

Finally, here are some more tips from past winners and judges (click here and here for more tips).

Avoid silly errors – proofread.

“Dot your “I’s” and cross your “t’s.”  Make sure you address every single element in the submission.  And, have someone outside your organization proof your entry because believe me, you are too close to it!  It’s so easy for your submission to be tossed aside by a judge because of a silly error that ruins all your hard work. “ Lisa Coster, Coster Communications

Be concise and clear.

“Be very clear and concise and don’t be afraid to enter…go for it!” Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot PR

Start early and include your research!

“For anyone entering this year’s BIM, start those nominations early! In the fast-paced world of PR, the last thing you want to do is be scrambling to get your nomination in under the wire. Also, don’t forget to include details for the research phase of any project you’re entering. Many overlook this portion of their submission in favor of the actual PR execution or results, but as any good PR pro knows, that research is absolutely critical to the success of any campaign, especially an award-winning one.” Courtney Benhoff, Abel Communications

#BIM17 logo designed by Devaney & Associates

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors