PRSA Charlotte

The Lead |November 2021

Congratulations QCPR Award Recipients and Honorees!

This month, we're dedicating the bulk of our newsletter to honoring and recognizing this year's PRSA Charlotte Queen City PR Awards award winners and honorees. If you couldn't attend on Friday, you missed something special. It was a fantastic, inspirational, celebratory morning filled with vibrant individuals and organizations from throughout the Charlotte PR community.

Not only were we joined by emcees Kristen Miranda and Abby Theodros from WBTV on Your Side, we had with us leaders such as the renowned journalist and filmmaker Steve Crump and Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio as they were honored among many others for their deep support of our community and our profession.

Thank you to all the organizations that submitted entries and to our committee for making this event such a success. The competition was fierce this year, and the work of the winners truly represents the best of the best. We hope you enjoy the summaries of their achievements below.

A special thank you to our QCPR Awards sponsor:

Meet Our 2021 QCPR Award Winners


Events and Observances for Business Products & Services
Clairemont Communications for "Owning the Future: Ingersoll Rand's Equity Grant" Campaign
When the merger of Gardner Denver and Ingersoll Rand Industrials was announced in 2019, Vicente Reynal, CEO of Gardner Denver, declared an employee equity award for all future Ingersoll Rand employees after the close of the merger. The transaction was completed in March 2020, followed of course by the global pandemic and economic downturn. Employees were skeptical the equity award would happen. Extensive research on employee ownership guided Ingersoll Rand and its agency, Clairemont Communications, to plan and implement an equity grant celebration event. Judges commended the team for their creativity and results during the pandemic. 


Events/Observances in the Government, Associations & Nonprofits

Monarch for the "Thrive in 2021! Mental Health Month" Campaign
Monarch is one of North Carolina's largest behavioral health care providers, serving more than 30,000 people across North Carolina each year through innovative, individualized mental health, substance use disorder, and intellectual and developmental disability services. While awareness of mental health and substance use disorder has, thankfully, increased over the last decade, these issues were thrust to the forefront of national conversations in new and unexpected ways as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, social and political unrest and rapid societal changes that shaped 2020. Throughout the pandemic, Monarch's priority remained the delivery of safe, high-quality health care through expanded telehealth services and comprehensive mental health services. This 2020 Statewide Brand Awareness Campaign was born out of the need to communicate to patients and communities that help was available, and to encourage people to connect for support during challenging times. "Great job!" and "I applaud this event," said the judges.

Community Relations Award in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofit Sector

Shawn Flynn for the "Little Heroes Blood Drive Campaign"
COVID-19 created a crisis with blood collection threatening the lives of those who desperately needed it for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries. Understanding this critical shortage during summer, Shawn worked with OneBlood donation centers to create the "Little Heroes Blood Drives" campaign to underscore the importance of donation, especially for pediatric cancer patients. The campaign activated the small, but mighty, pediatric cancer supporters' group in the Charlotte region to organize mobile blood drives. The campaign far exceeded expectations by collecting over 300 percent more units of blood than the goal. Executives with OneBlood called this, "The largest campaign ever of its kind in the region." One judge wrote, "Great grassroots effort!" Another said, "The plan was carried out well. Great campaign!" Shawn was also awarded the Best in Show Award (a new honor for 2021) for the campaign that received the highest score out of all the entries. 


Integrated Communications in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofit Sector

Atrium Health for "This is My Shot Vaccine Campaign"
From November 2020 to June 2021, Atrium Health deployed an integrated campaign to reach communities and employees as COVID-19 vaccinations became available. Grounded in research, the campaign's goals included increasing awareness of vaccine availability, encouragement of those reluctant to be vaccinated, enhancing the reputation of Atrium Health as a trusted partner in the health of patients and communities, and growing new patient volume following a positive experience. The campaign included a broad range of tactics, including billboards, paid and organic social posts, media relations, and considerable internal communications. Metrics available to date indicate considerable success across most goals. One judge noted, "Primary research was clear and the entry strongly identified the audience through the research being utilized to create the plan."


Integrated Communications in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofit Sector

Kelso Communications for "$335 for Families in Need: 335-For-NC" 
Shortly after the coronavirus relief funding started flowing to state governments, North Carolina established the Extra Credit Grant program to offset the cost of remote and at-home learning for families. The State started automatically distributing $335 via direct deposit into the bank accounts of qualifying parents, but that process excluded those who the grants would help the most -- parents who didn't earn enough to require filing a tax return. On behalf of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina, Kelso Communications began managing public and media interest to help spread the word. One judge wrote, "Well thought out and great material provided, great job!"


Integrated Communications in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofit Sector

Rachel Sutherland Communications for the "Pat's Place Everyday Heroes" Campaign
The Everyday Heroes campaign used traditional and visual storytelling to reinforce the message that every individual has the power and responsibility to keep children safe and help them heal from trauma. The campaign, which ran April to June 2021, served as a reminder that children need adults to be heroes in many ways so they can live their best life. To a child, it doesn't matter who you are, it matters what action you take: learn the facts, talk to children, listen to children and act responsibly. Judges said, "This is a creative campaign with clear tactics to achieve the strategy."


Brand Journalism in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofits Category  

Atrium Health and Ashley Brown for "Hernia Surgery: COVID Safe Re-entry Campaign" 
Atrium Health's Surgery Care Division is nationally known for its clinical excellence and innovative approaches, including hernia surgery. In 2020, Atrium Health experienced protocol changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a decline in elective surgical volume. As restrictions on elective surgeries were lifted, re-entry into the market was critical, with the opportunity to provide care to patients in need of hernia care as well as recoup lost revenue. Atrium's communications team implemented a robust campaign that included traditional media and brand journalism to increase awareness of hernia surgical services, with an emphasis on COVID-safe protocols. The campaign reached more than 70,000 viewers through strategic content and media placements. Judges said, "The materials, including the videos, are well done. A lot of thought and time were put into creating the content and storylines. The campaign showcased great results."


Brand Journalism in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofits Category  

Atrium Health for "New Atrium Health Plaza Increases Services for Region's Heart, Specialty Patients"
During the spring of 2021, Atrium Health opened a multi-million-dollar medical plaza to house out-patient services across specialties. The new state-of-the-art Atrium Health Kenilworth Medical Plaza offers a wide range of specialty services, such as Pulmonology, Executive Health, Neurology, Urology, Infectious Disease and Pharmacy. The plaza also includes a dedicated flagship location of Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, with services including a cardiac rehabilitation suite, demonstration kitchen to encourage healthy eating habits, and state-of-the-art imaging capabilities. Given limitations due to COVID-19 policies and virtual event guidelines, a digital brand journalism campaign was launched which focused on multimedia content to highlight the grand opening of the new location. Judges said, "Creative campaign and content, a smart way to use virtual avenues to promote your brand."


Crisis Communication in the Government/ Associations/ Nonprofits Category

Charlotte Douglas International Airport for "Keep it Rockin'"

Not surprisingly, Charlotte Douglas International Airport's passenger numbers plummeted in 2020 due to COVID-19. It was the largest passenger decrease in the Airport's history, dropping 46 percent that year from 2019's record-breaking numbers. It was crucial that CLT instill confidence in passengers to fly again. The Airport implemented the Keep it Rockin' information campaign in July 2020 to promote a clean and safe flying experience. For the past year, the Airport has been utilizing its various communications channels to bring passengers back to the terminal. The campaign used the Airport's signature rocking chairs as the foundation for its visual and written messaging. Judges applauded the focus of this campaign, and one bragged, "Well done! Comprehensive and inclusive."


Meet Our 2021 New Professional, Pegasus, Mosaic & Infinity Honorees

New Professional Award: Chloe Watson

As a student at UNC Charlotte, Chloe Watson was a board member of the 49er PRSSA Chapter and, upon graduation, wasted no time in joining PRSA Charlotte. She's been a valued member of the New Pros and Diversity and Inclusion committees. Her PRSA New Pro responsibilities include event planning, mentoring students at UNC Charlotte, and organizing meetups with other new professionals in Charlotte. She also visits her alma mater to speak on panels at PRSSA meetings and classroom Q&As. Chloe is currently a Marketing Manager at Amwins Group, where her responsibilities include monitoring media coverage, drafting press releases and creating marking materials. Working in a PR-adjacent field, Chloe knows the value of a PRSA membership and is an ambassador to our organization. Chloe balances PRSA and owning her business, The Chloe Creative (an event planning and design company). She's also a new mom. 

Pegasus Award: Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio

With 25 years of experience in public administration, including 14 years at Mecklenburg County, many characterize Dena as dedicated, focused, empathetic and trusted as she leads a team of more than 5,500 employees and oversees a budget approaching $2 billion. She was recently named 2020 Charlotte Businesswoman of the Year by Queens University and currently serves as Mecklenburg County's first female manager. Her team lead the PR campaign called Count on Me CLT, a joint initiative created by government and health officials, targeting both the general population and harder-hit racial and ethic groups about how to stay safe during the pandemic. 

Mosaic Award: Journalist and Filmmaker Steve Crump

Steve Crump has been shining light on the forgotten in our community for decades. Since joining WBTV in 1984 he has covered a wide range of stories across our city, often championing the unseen and unheard. His documentary work digs deeper into their stories, from the Civil Rights Movement to Apartheid in South Africa to the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.  Off camera, he has worked just as hard for diversity and inclusion in the broadcasting industry. I'm proud to call him my friend, and especially proud to recognize him as the recipient of the 2021 Mosaic Award.

Infinity Award: Chris Berger, Vice President of Enterprise Communications at Atrium Health and Kati Everett, Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of Public Relations at Novant Health

Chris Berger i
s an experienced strategic communicator skilled at building and leading teams to manage change and issues. In his four and a half years at Atrium Health, he has led communications and public relations efforts that have skyrocketed a strong regional hospital system into a national, next-generation academic health system powerhouse. In partnership with his team, Chris helped establish Atrium as a reassuring community presence during a time of crisis, in addition to their work demonstrating clinical excellence and a commitment to our community.

Through her remarkable career, our second recipient of the Infinity award, Kati Everett, is a proud testament to the highest standards of the public relations field. She joined Novant Health in 1997 and rose through the ranks, quickly gaining leadership positions that eventually led to her current role as Senior Vice President of Public Relations and Chief Communications Officer. She has guided the health system's marketing and communications teams through the ever-changing media and technology landscape for nearly three decades, culminating most recently in work focused on the global COVID-19 pandemic that provided comfort and clarity during an uncertain time.


Now Accepting Proposals for the 2022 Communications Symposium

The call for speakers for our 2022 PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium is now open! We're currently seeking proposals for keynote and breakout sessions for our annual professional development event taking place in April 2022.

Proposals should offer actionable insights for professional communicators, and we're especially interested in sessions relating to all that's changed in our world in the past few years. Do you have a great approach to engaging virtual internal communications? Lessons learned from frontline communications during COVID-19? Insights on thought leadership or social media change communication relating to racial justice? New ways to leverage video conferencing for content collection or storytelling? We want to hear about it!

Through the PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium, we seek to reach professionals at all career stages, and offer balanced programming covering best practices, tools/tactics, emerging trends, case studies and real-world strategies. A committee will review all proposals and communicate directly with those selected to present. All speakers will be contacted regarding their proposals in January 2022. 

Click here to submit a proposal:

Submissions will be accepted through December 30, 2021.

New Pros Update

One of the New Pros Committee priorities is to build the bridge between students in the Charlotte area and PRSA Charlotte. We plan on speaking at a career panel for the 49er PRSSA Chapter on November 16th. We have professionals in the entertainment, non-profit, and insurance marketing industries to talk to their experience on how PRSA helped them evolve in their careers. Students usually enjoy these panels because it allows them to gain first-hand knowledge on life after college and expand their understanding of the different career paths that a PR or Communications degree can offer. This experience also allows us to promote PRSA Charlotte events that are open to students to attend and network with current members.  We're eager to continue our partnership with UNC Charlotte as we enter 2022 and beyond.

News You Can Use

Welcome to PRSA Charlotte!
Welcome to new members: Martie Maria Bowser, Jennifer L. Colter, Stefanie Moody and Hannah Walden.

Please check out the
PRSA Charlotte Job Bank for details on the above positions and to see additional opportunities too. Open to opportunities outside of Charlotte? You can review communication roles throughout the country here.


Thank you to our 2021 Chapter Partner:

Silver Partner
PRSA Charlotte
PO Box 35442
Charlotte, NC 28235
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