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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

It’s Time to Register for Best In Maryland!

2015 Best in Maryland Gala

 It’s PRSA-MD’s 2015 “Best In Maryland” Awards Gala and Holiday Party at the Baltimore Hilton. If you haven’t purchased your tickets or reserved your VIP table as yet, make your reservation today as space will be limited!

Our keynote speaker will be Justin Berk, meteorologist, former WMAR broadcaster, and social media entrepreneur.

You won’t want to miss this special evening of merriment, including light appetizers, cocktails, and networking followed by a holiday dinner, Justin Berk’s keynote, and the highly anticipated individual recognitions and awards ceremony.

What a treat to welcome the winter holidays with your PRSA friends and colleagues. Even if you don’t have an award nomination, the BIM Gala is your chance to network, catch up with old contacts, and meet new peers in our industry.

All of us at PRSA-MD look forward with pleasure to honoring this year’s distinguished award recipients and to applauding each of you for the remarkable and important work you do each and every day of the year.

We can’t wait to see you at the Hilton on December 1!

Jeff Davis, APR
J. Davis Public Relations, LLC

David Harrison
Harrison Communications

PRSA Maryland Co-Presidents

Click here for more information.


2014 Best In MD Gala … Yes, it really is all about you!

Submitted by David Harrison, co-chair, BIM Committee

We cordially invite you to the 2014 Best in Maryland Gala on December 4, 2014, 6-10 pm at the Hilton Baltimore.

Once again this year, we will recognize the best communications campaigns in Maryland – in traditional and in new campaigns focused on media placements, blogs and social media.

The Best in Maryland gala is one of the most popular nights on the PRSA Maryland calendar. It’s a night when some will take home a coveted trophy and when all will have the opportunity to catch up with peers as we near the holiday season.

Terence O'Hara

Terence O’Hara

The evening will also feature a keynote address by former Baltimore and Washington, DC journalist, Terence O’Hara currently vice president of communications at UnitedHealthcare. He will speak about the changing nature of corporate communications in a social media world, navigating a career in journalism and public relations, and what he believes are the most important communications strategies to follow in a digital world.

And the fun part of the night will be the awards themselves. We will be presenting more than 50 Best in Maryland awards, Awards of Excellence and the coveted Best in Show. If you are a nominee, we certainly hope you will be there to take home your trophy in person.

Bonnie K Heneson

Bonnie K Heneson

We will be honoring our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and we will be proud to celebrate with Bonnie Heneson, founder of Bonnie Heneson Communications.

Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus

Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus

We will also be honoring Stevenson University’s Dr. Leeanne M. Bell McManus as Educator of the Year along with the New Professional of the Year (have to come to know who!) and our Partner of Distinction, Hack|Stone Film Group.

We look forward to celebrating the great work our community creates!

 Click here for more information and to register!

*VIP tables are selling fast, so we urge you to act quickly if you would like to take advantage of this option.


Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors