By Dick Shaner, Jr.
The annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Excalibur Awards have been a rite of spring for Western New York PR practitioners for more than a quarter of a century.
Conducted by the PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter and taking their name from the legendary sword of King Arthur, the awards honor excellence in public relations campaigns and tactics. Individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the practice and support of the field are also recognized through the awarding of special honors.
I submitted my first PRSA Excalibur entry in 1994 and have lost count on how many more I have entered over the years. If I had to guess, it’s somewhere between 100 and 125.
Last year’s awards program held June 25, 2014, was somewhat bittersweet.
On the plus side, I had the honor of nominating two of the special honor awardees – Rose Caldwell, director of communications and public relations at Catholic Charities of Buffalo, for the highly coveted May C. Randazzo Outstanding Practitioner Award – and Ken Houseknecht, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Erie County, as the Outstanding Executive.
At the same time, I sat there knowing less than one week later we would announce the sale of Travers Collins (TC) to The Martin Group (TMG). It was a bit surreal accepting awards that night on behalf of TC facing the reality it was the end-of-the-line for the once-storied agency.
Fast forward one year and TMG submitted five entries for work in partnership with four of our PR clients during 2014, including work started while we were still at TC. TMG was also included as a contributor on two client entries and helped another client prepare three submissions. In addition, Matt Davison, the managing partner of our new Martin|Davison Public Relations affiliate, submitted an entry for his work at AMDG Public Affairs.
Wednesday, April 29, was the deadline for submissions for the 2015 awards and this year’s campaign and tactic entries will now make their way to the PRSA Dallas Chapter for judging, with this year’s 26th annual awards program scheduled for Thursday, June 18 at the Tralf Music Hall. The special honor winners will be determined by the chapter’s board of directors.
One major twist this year was the elimination of the traditional and somewhat clunky supporting binders with the introduction of a new online entry system. With help from TMG’s Sarah DiPofi, the online submissions were fairly painless.
Kudus to Justina Fetterly, public relations coordinator, Charter School for Applied Technologies, who is chairing the 2015 Excalibur Awards, and her entire team. I’m really looking forward to this year’s awards ceremony, seeing many of my colleagues and friends in the local PR community, and celebrating another year of excellence in public relations.