NAPRCA Chapter & Members Receive Statewide Recognition

May 17, 2018  |  Awards  |  Comments Off on NAPRCA Chapter & Members Receive Statewide Recognition

Your North Alabama PRCA Chapter and its members where received high honors at the 2018 PRCA Conference for efforts and projects that took place during 2017. NAPRCA placed first in 6 out of 8 categories and was named Sharon Heflin Chapter of the Year for 2017. Several chapter members were also recognized for their professional achievements. Congratulations to all of the award winners!


Chapter of the Year Awards (COTY)

North Alabama recieved 1st Place in Membership, Education, Chapter Management, Communications, Programs, Projects; 3rd Place in APR

2017 Sharon Heflin Chapter of the Year Award – NORTH ALABAMA


2018 PRCA Medallion Award Winners

Awards of Merit (70-79)

  • Media Fusion, Chantel Minish, National Park Service Ranger Recruitment
  • #GoPlayHsv, Ashley Polesak, Huntsville Parks & Recreation


Awards of Excellence (80-89)

  • Huntsville Hospital, Sue Esslinger and Steve Doyle, News in 90
  • Committee of 100, PR Plan, Leah Gradl
  • Dynetics, Kristina Hendrix and Whitney Schmitt, Web Renovation
  • Dynetics Kristina Hendrix and Whitney Schmitt, Updated Publication
  • Creative Cities, Leah Gradl, Brand Design
  • Parkway Place (CBL Properties), Molly Bell, Pop Up Shop
  • Dynetics, Kristina Hendrix and Whitney Schmitt, Aerospace Expansion


Medallion Awards (90-100)

  • City of Huntsville, Jessica Carlton, Rescue Me: Fire Dogs
  • Huntsville-Madison County CVB, Kristen Pepper, TBEX Website
  • Committee of 100, Leah Gradl, Crisis Plan
  • Media Fusion, Chantel Minish, NASA SLS Virtual Reality
  • Kent Company, Leah Gradl, 60th Anniversary




BEST IN SHOW: City of Huntsville, Jessica Carlton, Rescue Me: Fire Dogs

Get Ready for 2018 Medallion Awards Now

October 25, 2017  |  Awards  |  Comments Off on Get Ready for 2018 Medallion Awards Now

We hope you’re giving serious consideration to the 2018 Medallion Awards. Your North Alabama chapter is hosting the state conference in Huntsville mid-April 2018, and we’d love to see our members dominate awards night!

To help, we’ve brought everything you need into one place. UPDATED: Professional Medallions deadline is March 5, 2018.

First, Consider Your Award-Worthy Work

Now’s the time to make a list of projects or pieces that might make a good PRCA Medallion entry. It can be anything from a full program to a specific tactic like a postcard or release. A great way to brainstorm is to look through the Medallion categories.

Second, Gather Your Medallion Materials

The work associated with your PRCA Medallion entry must have appeared (published, printed, presented, etc.) within this calendar year. Take a look at your potential award submission and start gathering your collateral and metrics. What do you have? What do you still need?

Then review the online rules for Medallion entry and the judges’ evaluation questions – it’s a great way to make sure your submission includes everything it should. You can even start writing it now.

Third, Be Ready for the Online Medallion Entry Process

Awards are submitted online which means you need to be ready with digital versions of your collateral for upload. And there are character limits for the different required sections. That’s just several things to consider now, before we get into the busy awards season at the first of the year.

We recommend you look over these webinar slides for easy to follow instructions about the entry process. The deck is titled “How to Enter SPRF Lanterns” but the process and judging criteria are exactly the same for PRCA professional and student awards.

Unlike some awards, the PRCA Medallions are only open to active members of PRCA so be sure to renew your NAPRCA membership for 2018 when the renewal cycle opens in November. Students, that includes you!

Finally, Ask for Help

We have plenty of local people who have won Medallions and can help you. In fact, “Five Tips for Award-Winning PR Entries” was published on this site several years ago and has sample entries you can look over. Here’s another deck for Bringing Home the Trophy.

But if you’re still not sure whether your work merits an award submission, just call someone on the local NAPRCA Board. Really, we’re here to help.

Congratulations to Our 2015 Lantern Award Winners

October 1, 2015  |  Awards, News  |  Comments Off on Congratulations to Our 2015 Lantern Award Winners


Contact: Lorri Freeman, APR
Southern Public Relations Federation
Lantern Award Chair

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015

Southern Public Relations Federation
Announces 2015 Lantern Award Winners

The Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF) recognized outstanding work in the field of public relations during the Lantern Awards ceremony held Sept. 22 at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Ala.

Awards, including Certificates of Merit, Awards of Excellence and Lantern Awards, were given within three tiers and a student category. Of the Lantern Awards given, the judges also select the Best of Show Award and two Judges’ Choice Awards.

Mississippi Department of Transportation received the William A. Taylor Best of Show Award for its “Get Your Game On” campaign designed around sports to inspire Mississippi residents not to litter.

Two Judge’s Choice awards were presented, one to The Focus Group for their campaign “Every Shrimp Has a Tail; Our Shrimp Have a Story” and one to Le Meridien New Orleans for their “Managing a Potential Identity Crisis: Transitioning W New Orleans to Le Meridien New Orleans.”

In addition to these awards, here is a complete list of local winners:

  • Lantern Awards:
    • NASA Technology Video – Chantel Minish, Media Fusion
    • SLS Booster Test Firing Plan – Kristina Hendrix, ASRC Federal for NASA Marshall
  • Awards of Excellence:
    • Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Website – Chantel Minish, Media Fusion
    • NASA “Rocket Man” Recruitment Campaign – Chantel Minish, Media Fusion
    • Huntsville Restaurant Week 2014: Ten Tasty Days of Deals – Jessica Carlton, Huntsville/ Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Certificates of Merit:
    • NASA 3DV App – Chantel Minish, Media Fusion
    • #iHeartHSV: a social media lovefest for Rocket City, USA – Jessica Carlton, Huntsville/ Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
    • Huntsville City Schools’ Summer Labs Program Powered by Appleton – Sonia Robinson, Appleton Learning
    • Huntsville Utilities 75th Anniversary Logo – Deborah Hudson, Huntsville Utilities

Founded in 1972, SPRF is the umbrella organization for the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Public Relations Association of Mississippi, the Public Relations Association of Louisiana and Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization. SPRF exists to further the professional and networking interests of today’s public relations and communication professionals in private, public and nonprofit businesses and organizations. Along with networking, SPRF serves to advocate on behalf of and assist its members through ongoing professional development and defining ethical behavior. For more information about SPRF, visit the organization’s website at

Announcing NAPRCA Winners from 2015 State Medallion Awards

April 14, 2015  |  Awards, News  |  Comments Off on Announcing NAPRCA Winners from 2015 State Medallion Awards

PRCA Medallion AwardThe Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) honored several North Alabama chapter members and their organizations during the Medallion Awards Ceremony in Montgomery earlier this month.Each year PRCA recognizes professional achievements in the industry and across the state for a variety of categories. Congratulations to all the winners in North Alabama for your outstanding work.


Winners from NAPRCA included:

Medallion Award
Media Fusion, Inc., for the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Website

Awards of Excellence
Huntsville/Madison County CVB for the #IHeartHSV 2014 Social Media Campaign
Huntsville/Madison County CVB for the Huntsville Restaurant Week 2014 Campaign
• Kristina L. Hendrix, APR, with ASRC for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center on the   NASA Space Launch System Vertical Assembly Center Ribbon Cutting
Media Fusion, Inc., for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center SLS Messaging Guideline

Award of Merit
Appleton for the Afterschool Labs logo

In addition, the University of North Alabama was well represented with Beth Garfrerick PhD, assistant professor, honored as the 2014 Educator of the Year, and student Savannah McKinney as the 2014 Student of the Year.

Scholarship Opportunity: Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship 2015

February 17, 2015  |  Awards, News, Students  |  Comments Off on Scholarship Opportunity: Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship 2015


Feb. 17, 2015

PRCA North Alabama Chapter seeks college scholarship applicants

2015 Michael K. Simmons Scholarship Application

The North Alabama Chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama is seeking college student applicants for the Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship. The award is $2,000 toward the recipient’s tuition and fees for the Fall 2015 or Spring 2016 terms. The scholarship is open to students majoring in public relations or public relations-related fields of study such as public communications, marketing, mass communications, or journalism. Students must be a member of the North Alabama chapter of PRCA, be enrolled in a university located in north Alabama, and have completed at least one semester of coursework.

The award selection will be based on grade point average, extracurricular activities, a faculty recommendation and an essay.

The North Alabama chapter of PRCA established the Michael K. Simmons Memorial Scholarship Program in 1994, with the purpose of encouraging students to explore the public relations profession and to introduce them to PRCA and the important role a professional organization can play in the early stages of their career. Funds for the scholarship are raised from individual member donations, professional development events and workshops.

“PRCA is committed to advancing the caliber and professionalism of the Public Relations profession, and that absolutely includes students. The North Alabama Chapter is proud to support emerging leaders in the Public Relations industry with this scholarship as well as access to training, mentoring and professional development opportunities,” said Leah Gradl, NAPRCA President. “We encourage all Public Relations students across North Alabama to engage in our professional organization and apply for this scholarship.”

All applications and support documents must be emailed to Dr. Beth Garfrerick, NAPRCA Student Chapter Liaison, by March 31 at Questions about the Simmons scholarship may also be directed to or by calling 256-765-4941.

The Public Relations Council of Alabama seeks to promote the development of public relations practitioners through continuing education and increased awareness about the profession.



Have you Entered? Medallions Award Deadline is February 6, 2015

January 13, 2015  |  Awards, News  |  Comments Off on Have you Entered? Medallions Award Deadline is February 6, 2015


You worked hard all year long — and this is your moment to let those campaigns shine! The submission process is online and straightforward. Visit the Medallions website for

  • Categories
  • Criteria
  • Online Submission
  • Payment

PROFESSIONALS: $50 per entry, ($45 per entry if submitting three or more at once)
STUDENTS: $5 per entry—student checks must be postmarked February 6th

Questions? Contact 2015 Medallion Awards Chair Kristina Hendrix, APR and she can help you choose the best category or answer online submission questions.  You can review this presentation called Bringing Home the Trophy on Slideshare for great tips.  And it never hurts to use the APR Study Guide (a downloadable PDF – jump to page 37) to help write great campaign plan summaries and objectives.

We’d love nothing more than seeing #TeamNorth dominate this year’s Medallions Award gala in Montgomery!


Medallion Competition Webinar: Bringing Home the Trophy

November 5, 2014  |  Awards, News, Workshops  |  Comments Off on Medallion Competition Webinar: Bringing Home the Trophy

Want to hear tips for winning in this year’s awards competition?  Email Kristina Hendrix, APR — and go #TeamNorth!  Webinar date is Friday, November 14 at 10am.

Webinar Nov 14

How to Win a Medallion – Nov 14 Webinar


NAPRCA Receives 2014 Jamie Palmer, APR Chapter of Distinction Award

September 30, 2014  |  Awards, News  |  Comments Off on NAPRCA Receives 2014 Jamie Palmer, APR Chapter of Distinction Award

The North Alabama Chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama earned first place overall in the 2014 Southern Public Relations Federation Chapter of Distinction Awards. NAPRCA’s 2013 president, Abby Guasti, APR, was named SPRF President of the Year. 

Each chapter may compete in up to eight categories: Accreditation, Chapter Management, Membership, Communication, Public Service, Programs, Projects and PR Education. The submissions are evaluated by accredited public relations practitioners based on four criteria (situation analysis, goals/objectives, execution, and evaluation).  The SPRF Chapter of Distinction awards were created in 2009 and the Mobile chapter took first place overall for the first five years. SPRF honors the chapter that excels in the most categories by awarding the Jamie Palmer Chapter of Distinction Award.

NAPRCA members Sonia Robinson, APR and John Wessel, APR received the SPRF Senior Practitioner designation in 2014.

Five Tips for Award-Winning PR Entries

January 18, 2013  |  Awards, News, Students, Workshops  |  Comments Off on Five Tips for Award-Winning PR Entries

by Lori Miller

[UPDATED 1-22:  Just added another award winning entry.  Deborah Hudson of Huntsville Utilities agreed to share her 2008 Lantern “Best of Show.”  It’s at the bottom of this post.]

As last year’s Best of Show winner in the 2012 Medallions competition, I’ve been privileged to have my work evaluated by PR peers and found worthy. Winning PR awards is heady stuff and very gratifying. Helps sell your worth back to the boss as well!

But make no mistake – it took work to get the entry ready. Our great project did not “speak for itself.” I made it speak through the narrative I wrote to tell its story, and through the collateral I selected to go in the binder to bring the words to life. You may have a great project. And it still may not win if you don’t put in the time to write a good entry.

On Friday January 11, several previous Medallion award winners in the state conducted a webinar to talk about how to win. If you missed it, you can download the slides now, and you’ll see that they help guide you through the entry process.

But what the slides do not share are those tips that fall somewhere outside of the instructions that nevertheless make a big difference. It’s the stuff you wish someone would tell you before your fingers touch the keyboard.

Yes, we’re competitive. But I want to see our chapter do well at this year’s conference, so I’m all about helping my fellow NAPRCA members get ahead.

So – let’s do this! Here are five tips that will help you put together an award-winning entry.


(1) Remember, you are being judged on your entry, not your collateral

I am not saying that your collateral isn’t important. Far from it. But I am saying that your clever and beautifully crafted postcard doesn’t amount to much if you didn’t write a compelling PR objective and explain how the postcard helped you achieve the result you needed.

Say it with me: It’s about the entry.

So give yourself time to write it well. The judges are applying APR standards for planning and measurement to your entry, so familiarize yourself with the RPIE format, especially the parts about writing good objectives. You can download a PDF of the APR Study guide and jump to page 43 “Writing a Public Relations Plan.” That’s what I do. And then I put the SMART acronym at the top of my rough draft – SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, with a Timetable for getting it done.


(2) Tell a story, but make it fast

Nobody really wants to hear this but it’s true – those judges are looking at LOTS of entries. They can start to blur together. They get tired. They stop writing comments and just start scribing numbers.

Knowing this, tell a story with your entry. Make it interesting and conversational, because in this case, your audience is the judge. You need to be painting pictures with words, because the judge may have made up most of his or her mind before they get to your beautiful collateral.

At the same time, make your entry easy to scan. Use bullets and subheads. Tie your actions back to your objectives so they cannot possibility miss it. You only have 500 words – 250 in some areas – to make your points, so choose your words wisely.

I go into the Medallions website and cut and paste the word limits and points potential for each section into my draft. Then I write offline, ruthlessly edit, and cut and paste the finished entry back into the right sections so I can print the entry form.


(3) Let someone else read it – preferably someone who doesn’t know the project

Let those familiar with your project help you proof it. But I suggest handing it to someone outside your industry for a final read. Here’s why.

The judge looking at your entry is well-qualified, but he or she may not be familiar with your industry. For example, I know a great deal about media relations, events and speech writing, but I’ve never written an annual report or competed for government grants.

The best protection against unintentional myopic thinking is letting someone else read it – someone who isn’t already familiar with the project you are describing. Does it make sense to them? Do they understand the significance of each bullet? In your effort to edit, did you cut out some necessary background?


(4) Don’t leave anything out

When I was in charge of SPRF’s Lanterns, I had the opportunity to see many judging sheets. And there are a few things that often get left out of entries.

Did you talk about your budget? You need to mention it, even if you cannot divulge the amount due to confidentiality. Did you name your key audiences? While you were describing the situation, did you remember to talk about research? Did you provide solid metrics in the evaluation section that tie directly back to your objectives? Did you remember to identify your specific role in the project?

Also, this is just a personal opinion, but I think it’s okay to admit that you didn’t reach an objective. Just make sure that you talk about what you learned and what you’d do differently.


(5) Creativity applies to your support material and the way you present it in the entry

You are not supposed to pretty up the entry, and the formatting of the printout isn’t great. So how to do get creative? I’d argue it’s the words you use and the presentation of your collateral. Take the time to include dividers. Include emails if they help finish telling the story and provide “color commentary.” I’ve even been known to place post-it notes under the sheet protectors to call attention to specific pieces of the collateral for the judges (making it easy to scan, remember?).

So there you go.  The deadline for entering Medallions is postmark Friday January 25.  So get to the Medallions website and enter!  And since I believe it helps, I’ve included a shortened version my entry last year.  Good luck.


WHNT Tornado Relief Telethon – Category 9A Special Events Under $20,000



Medallion 2013 Deadline is January 25

October 22, 2012  |  Awards, News, Students  |  Comments Off on Medallion 2013 Deadline is January 25

Get your best work together!  All PRCA members are invited to enter the best of their work in the 2013 PRCA Medallion Awards competition.

Enter online at the Medallions awards website. You can find detailed descriptions of each category and the entry process there.

Any PRCA member in good standing may submit entries. Entries must have been produced between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

Entries must be postmarked by Friday, January 25, 2013. n Please note the deadline WILL NOT be extended.

$50 per entry
$45 per entry if submitting three or more entries

For more information about the Medallion competition, contact 2013 Medallion Chair Keisa Sharpe-Johnson at