Grand Slams: Reflecting on the 2023 Richmond PRSA Awards

Each year, The Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America holds its annual awards ceremony to honor the innovative work of public relations professionals from the previous year. The awards program champions creativity and highly effective communications strategies, and this year, Hodges knocked it out of the park.

The team took home a total of 9 awards in the following categories:

  • Internal/Intranet Video Programs
  • Integrated Communications
  • Organic Social Media
  • Newsletters
  • Regional/Local Media Relations
  • National Media Relations

One standout campaign was “Virginia’s Community College’s G3 Awareness and Lead Generation Campaign” led by Michaela Mishoe and the VCCS account team.

“There are a lot of community colleges across Virginia, and they all have unique histories and specific program offerings that meet the business needs in each region,” Michaela said. “Community College Month in April was the perfect opportunity to tell all these really cool stories and amplify what makes Virginia’s Community Colleges so great.”

VCCS is no stranger to Hodges, and neither is the G3 tuition assistance program it offers thanks to the team’s work on the “Virginia’s Community Colleges’ G3 Awareness and Lead Generation” campaign.

“By leveraging earned, owned and paid tactics, our agency has successfully showcased the full life cycle of a G3 student – captivating the attention of prospective students who aspire to secure higher-paying jobs, make career pivots and embark on new experiences,” said Hannah Robinson, a member of the VCCS account team. “Through compelling storytelling, informative content and captivating visuals with help from our friends at AccessU, we have showcased the significant impact that community colleges can have on personal and professional growth.”

Speaking of the G3 program, Casey Prentice led the team to excellence with the video strategy, “After G3 I will Be…” This campaign interviewed students in an effort to understand the impact the G3 tuition assistance program.

“This project was rewarding to see come to fruition because it was a research-informed tactic,” Casey said. “Working with AccessU, we did a focus group of students to see what worked and what didn’t with the prior G3 campaign. Students told us they wanted to see what happened after college as they moved into a career, and that concept became the focus of our 2022-2023 campaign.”

Virginia’s Community Colleges is just one of the many clients Hodges works with. Other clients that brought home awards this year include Mercy Chefs, the Virginia Dental Association, the American Cider Association and the Virginia Telehealth Network.

Mercy Chefs provides hot, chef prepared meals to individuals impacted by national emergencies and natural disasters. When Hurricane Ian touched down in Florida and the Caribbean, the Mercy Chefs team, led by Megan Irvin, ensured that local, regional and national outlets knew about the important work of the nonprofit.

“Part of our pitching process in any deployment is going back to long-term contacts and then closely following the news – how to help lists, monitoring who is on the ground after a disaster from specific networks – to get our client team connected to the right reporters,” Meg explained. “We followed this approach successfully in Hurricane Ian, and we’re proud of the recognition we received at the Virginia PR awards for our national media relations work.”

The Virginia Telehealth Network program has made strides ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. To advocate and raise awareness for this form of healthcare, Amanda Colocho and her team worked on two award-winning projects for the network.

“Strategic planning and tactical execution on content efforts, like the Equity & Telehealth newsletter, are only a piece of the puzzle,” Amanda said. “The creative freedom granted to us from clients and trust they have in our recommendations allow us to produce work that we’re really proud of.”

A large part of what Hodges does is media relations to communicate its clients’ stories. Under the leadership of Cameron McPherson, the Virginia Dental Association team put a spotlight on the importance of raising adult Medicaid reimbursements rates to support oral health in Virginia.

“The increase was important for improving access to dental care in the state,” Cameron said. “It was a huge ‘win’ for the oral health of Virginians, and we were proud to help tell this story.”

Storytelling is also an integral part of media relations. Julia Loudy and Michaela Mishoe were able to seamlessly run a five-month project involving the American Cider Association and the launch of the Virginia Cider Trail.

“The goal of our five-month project with the American Cider Association was to attract attention for the Virginia Cider Trail through statewide media placements,” Julia said. “To accomplish this, we outlined a media relations plan that targeted food, beverage, lifestyle and business reporters across the state in media markets with cideries along the trail.”

The project reached 53 statewide placements, 78 million impressions, over 863 signups and 643 cidery check-ins.

Hodges loves giving back and finds meaning in working with several nonprofit organizations. In an effort to bring more attention to Virginia specified nonprofits, Hodges created The Phil, an online outlet that covers the numerous nonprofit activities in the region. The Phil’s work did not go unnoticed, bringing home an award for “The Hodges Partnership Runs Owned Media Network for Virginia Nonprofits.”

“Part of the success of The Phil is that we try to run it like a newsroom with regular editorial meetings to map our story assignments, deadlines and social media strategies,” said Sean Ryan, Hodges’ VP of Media Relations and one of The Phil’s editors. “We’re grateful to our cohort of interns who help develop and write many of the stories we share. And we’re excited to shine a deserving light on nonprofits throughout Virginia.”

The team at Hodges is able to create award-winning campaigns only because of its award-winning clients. As we enter another year of status calls, pizza brainstorms and long days of pitching, we look forward to all the ways our clients will continue to change the game and make the world a better place. We are grateful for the opportunity to help amplify the incredible work of our clients, and we are excited to continue contributing our expertise and support along the way.

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