The Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) honored organizations and companies for excellence in public relations at the 2018 Virginia Public Relations Awards ceremony, held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va.

“We’re proud to recognize the impactful public relations work across Virginia,” said Cameron McPherson, APR, president of PRSA Richmond and account director at The Hodges Partnership. “As the public relations industry continues to evolve, it’s exciting to see the high caliber of entries throughout the state. Campaigns honored at the awards represent the best-of-the-best and highlight the high-level of creativity and strategic thinking from the state’s communications professionals.”

The Virginia Public Relations Awards are separated into two divisions: the Commonwealth Awards, which honor the best public relations programs and campaigns of the year; and the Capital Awards, which honor the best public relations tactics of the year. First-place winners in each category are honored with an Award of Excellence, while runners-up receive an Award of Merit. Finally, Best in Show awards were given to the top overall entries in the campaigns and tactics categories.

This year’s Commonwealth Best in Show winners for campaigns were Commonwealth Partnerships and the Home Building Association of Richmond (HBAR) for their “Richmond Parade of Homes 2017”. The social media and media relations campaign highlighted the month-long event and successfully increased awareness about local homebuilders and their services, promoted the sales of new homes and showcased HBAR as a resource for builders and buyers.

This year’s Capital Best in Show winners for tactics were The Virginia Lottery and Padilla for their “Social Media Revamp for Virginia Lottery’s Game Guy” social media campaign. This strategic plan recognized the untapped potential in the Virginia Lottery’s brand ambassador, Game Guy’s social media channels to successfully engage new players, build regular content and utilize his event appearances more effectively.

Commonwealth and Capital Award entries were judged for research, planning, execution and evaluation by the Alabama Chapter of PRSA.

During the ceremony, PRSA Richmond presented Beth A. Hardy, APR, with the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Public Relations. She is a public relations and communications professional with more than 25 years’ experience. She is a freelance contractor who focuses on strategic marketing and communications planning for businesses in both the public and private sectors. She has served clients in both the services and consumer industries including several law firms, Direct Menswear, First Capital Bank, Capital One, Loehmann’s Plaza, and McGladrey & Pullen.

Hardy’s experience includes strategic communications planning and implementation, employee communications, special events planning, intranet development, web-based communications, customer/client research and writing. Her work has earned several Virginia Public Relations Awards from PRSA Richmond. She is a past President of PRSA Richmond; a former Board member of the Goochland Free Clinic, Tech Reach of Central VA, and Volunteer Emergency Families for Children; a graduate of the Goochland Leadership Enterprise program; and a former PTA President and member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Goochland schools. She was elected to the Goochland County School Board in November 2011 and served as Chair in 2012. She also serves on the GCPS Minority Advisory Committee and the GCPS Public Relations Committee, and was recently elected Vice-Chair of the Southside Region for the Virginia School Board Association.

Thomas Jefferson Award winners exemplify the best in the PR profession and the program is open to PR practitioners in the Greater Richmond metropolitan area.  Recipients receive $1,000 to support a local nonprofit. Hardy will donate the amount to the Goochland Education Foundation, which provides strategic innovation grants for Goochland County teachers and students.

The Rising Star Award was presented at the ceremony as well. This honor recognizes an outstanding member of the public relations profession with five or fewer years of experience. Kelsey Leavey, digital content strategist at The Hodges Partnership, a public relations and social media agency located in Richmond, Va., was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Rising Star Award.

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