Justine F

PR Campaign of the Year

On September 10, 2018 at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), one of the world’s largest manufacturing conferences, HP Inc. set out to revolutionize metal manufacturing with the launch of HP Metal Jet, the world’s most advanced 3D printing technology for high-volume manufacturing of production-grade metal parts.

The company’s objective was to grow its influence as a leader in the global digital transformation of manufacturing. For both its success in launching the groundbreaking new Metal Jet technology and its impact on the manufacturing sector as a whole, HP has won the “PR Campaign of the Year” award in Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

As a new player in the metals marketplace, HP knew the industry faced challenges, like the perception that 3D printing at an industrial level was still slow, expensive and lacked broad applications. During the launch, HP’s goal was to position Metal Jet as the most advanced printing technology for industrial scale mass production with key partners like Volkswagen, the largest auto group in the world, and GKN, which produces billions of metal parts per year for the automotive and industrial sectors, showcasing real applications from the start.

To set the stage for the launch, HP tested the technology with third-party research. The American Society for Testing and Materials and the International Organization for Standardization both indicated that the product exceeded industry standards. The communications team built strong relationships with leading manufacturing innovators. HP, GKN, Parmatech, Volkswagen, and others implemented a deeply collaborative communications model, and Volkswagen even issued its own announcement about its planned integration of Metal Jet as part of a multiyear road map to transform the way it designs and manufactures.

Launch communication began months in advance in collaboration with HP’s strategic partners and customers and kicked off with a deep set of preliminary interviews; more than 65 reporters participated in an embargoed online interactive presentation, top press influencers attended strategic events (including a main-stage keynote and VIP press conference) and toolkits were distributed to HP managing directors and international Communications teams worldwide to support amplification of the launch. A deeply collaborative social media strategy was also executed with HP’s launch partners to amplify the overall launch reach.

The effort resulted in an 80% share of voice at IMTS; 250 articles in business, innovation, trade, vertical and broadcast media; and 560 million impressions on Twitter. The company’s shares rose 1% on the news on Sept. 10.

Congratulations to the HP 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing Communications team, led by Noel Hartzell.

Justine F

Publicity Stunt

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a group called Teens for Gun Reform organized a protest in front of the White House. The shooting occurred on February 14; the protest would occur on February 18 (President’s Day), led by two high school students who had the foresight to contact Steppingstone LLC, a D.C.-based PR and graphic design practice. Their combined efforts have won first place in the “Publicity Stunt” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The protest would be a stunt: 17 protesters representing the 17 high-schoolers killed in the shooting would lie down for three minutes, representing the amount of time it took for the gunman to purchase his weapon. The protest goal was simple: a call to action to break the nation’s gridlock over gun law reform.

With just 30 hours before the “lie-in,” Steppingstone issued a press advisory and started pitching the event to D.C. news desks and reporters. The teen organizers used social media to attract students, benefiting from the fact that the protest was planned on a federal holiday, when schools were closed and media outlets were hungry for something to cover.

Advance stories appeared as a result of the outreach, generating even more interest and leading Steppingstone to realize the protest would attract more media than initially anticipated; additional PR resources were arranged for the day of the event.

On the morning of the protest, Steppingstone made another round of early desk calls; nearly every national and local TV news desk indicated they planned to attend and report on the event.

Camera crews set up in a horseshoe-shaped arc around the White House fence line, capturing the protest and resulting in significant top-tier coverage, including the front pages of The New York Times and other daily newspapers, along with NBC’s “Today” show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CNN’s “Anderson Cooper.”

For their effort to spread the word of the protest, congratulations to Ami Neiberger-Miller and Samantha Villegas.

Justine F

Product or Service Launch

The product itself is impressive: The Electron Wheel replaces the back wheel of a bicycle to provide power to the bike, turning it into an e-bike. Differentiating it from competitors, the wheel also connects to Google Assistant, providing hands-free interaction with the connected device. The approach taken by Diffusion PR to attract attention to the Electron Wheel has earned first place in the “Product or Service Launch” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards. 

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the ideal venue for introducing the product. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be ready until two months after CES. Diffusion devised a scheme to draw attention to a product that was two months from launch: It engaged a cyclist to ride a bike equipped with the Wheel across the country, arriving at CES on its third day after a 10-day journey beginning in New York.

The logistics for the ride were complex. For example, the Wheel holds a charge that lasts about 50 miles, so a chase vehicle had to follow the cyclist to replace the Wheel on a regular basis (in addition to providing support and capturing photos and videos of the journey).

Diffusion was able to secure a partnership with Google, which was excited about the device’s connection to Google Assistant. Among Diffusion’s goals was increasing website traffic by 50% and pre-orders by 15%.

The effort (along with Diffusion’s presence at the event) resulted in more than 60 briefings and placements in top-tier press, including TechCrunch (which had an exclusive to announce the launch and kick off the ride), Fox News, Reuters and USA Today. Website traffic increased more than 450% and pre-orders by 37%, far exceeding the campaign’s goals.

Congratulations to Kate Ryan, Megan Hartwick, Lauren Curlett and Collin Lester.


Justine F

Press Event or Media Tour

On June 29, 2017, Cherokee Nation reopened the popular tourist attraction, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum near Sallisaw, Oklahoma. The cabin was built in 1829 by Sequoyah, well known as the creator of the Cherokee’s written language, the Cherokee syllabary. Announcing the reopening of this treasure to the public had to convey a sense of reverence for the man and the need to preserve a fragile piece of history. Its success has won Cherokee Nation Businesses first place in the “Press Event or Media Tour” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

For years, the cabin museum was maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society. When the Society built an outer building to protect the cabin and produced exhibits for it, financial pressures led it to explore divesting itself of the property. The Cherokee Nation bought it, along with the surrounding 200 acres of land, in order to maintain the National Historic Landmark’s value as a snapshot of the life of one of the most prominent figures in the Nation’s history.

Once in Cherokee Nation hands, a reopening was planned. Cherokee Nation Businesses distributed a series of news releases leading up to the event, starting with the announcement of the Nation’s plan to purchase the property. A formal signing ceremony finalizing the purchase presented another opportunity for building awareness; at the event, plans were announced for updates to aging exhibits and grounds enhancements. A small gift shop was also planned.

The grand reopening was announced along with a “first look” for media at the updated site. Another release was distributed to offer a recap of the event, and b-roll and images were posted to the Cherokee Nation’s online pressroom, many of which were widely used in media coverage. Two in-depth features were published in Oklahoma’s largest newspapers.

In total, media coverage reached 5.3 million people. The press event was aired 14 times to a combined viewership of more than 212,000. As a result, the site continues to be a major tourism draw.

Congratulations to Cherokee Nation Businesses.

Justine F

Influencer Event

Stonyfield was an early adopter of social media. The dairy company’s Bovine Bugle was one of the first brand blogs to attract attention—and engagement—with its conversational style and wit. The company’s commitment to social media hasn’t waned, as evidenced by its Organic Quarterly Blogger Tour program, which has won first place in the “Influencer Event” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The idea behind the tour is to enlist bloggers to share the Stonyfield culture from the perspective of organic dairy farmers who supply the milk the company uses to make its yogurt. Having influential bloggers tell the story, with a focus on why organic food is preferable and an explanation about why it costs more, overcomes consumer skepticism of communication directly from brands.

Storytelling is at the heart of the effort, with the Stonyfield team orchestrating the events to discuss everything from soil and grass to the holistic treatment of cows and the pesticide-free pastures where farmers’ children play and cows graze. Six to seven bloggers are selected for each quarterly tour based on their potential for reaching Stonyfield’s consumer audience.

The planning involved is detailed, from the top-rated lodging where bloggers stay to the transportation to and from the farm. Meals feature locally sourced food and at least one dinner is hosted by the company’s co-founder. Other members of the Stonyfield team are on hand to answer questions.

Each tour produces enviable results; one delivered more than 20 million impressions from a single trip. The bloggers go out of their way to let the company know how much they appreciate the event, in addition to sharing their stories on their blogs.

Congratulations to Kristina Drociak, Mairead Dunphy and Marcia Flansbury.

Justine F

Contest or Giveaway

Swiffer is a household name, the category leader among spray mops. O-Cedar had a spray mop of its own—the ProMist Max—and wanted to get it into apartments and small dwellings, for which it was ideally suited. The approach the company took, with the help of 3rd Coast PR, has won first place in the “Contest or Giveaway” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

With Swiffer already holding the lion’s share of the market, O-Cedar wanted to reach a younger generation not typically targeted for such products. The campaign’s goals included driving traffic to the ProMist Max landing page and introducing the product to millennial consumers. Another key goal: Challenge Swiffer.

Reviewing data about millennials, the team learned 60% of young adults in the U.S. live with roommates. They built on this data with their own survey, and discovered that nearly half of millennials confessed that cleanliness was the most important factor when they chose a roommate.

The PR campaign that resulted supported the brand’s declaration of June 6 as National Roommate Appreciation Day, with a sweepstakes at the heart of a dedicated landing page. The $5,000 Ultimate Roommate Appreciation Sweepstakes was designed to drive awareness and encourage newsletter signups.

Media outreach included referencing a customizable “Roommate Agreement” people could download from the site. A celebrity endorsement and social media influencer involvement rounded out the campaign, earning more than 31,000 page views and 11,000 sweepstakes entries. Also, more than 1,000 copies of the roommate agreement were downloaded.

For their originality in identifying the roommate opportunity, congratulations to Mary Kelly, Rachel Johnson and Betsi Schumacher.

Justine F

Technology Campaign

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) is a leading media company in Asia. SCMP had plans to expand into the U.S. with two digital products/news brands designed specifically for the American market: ABACUS, a mobile news site covering the China tech industry, and INKSTONE, a website and mobile app covering China news. The success of the effort has earned first place in the “Technology Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

Strategies included positioning the editorial teams from the two properties as China insiders with distinguished journalistic credentials and authoritative perspectives on the China tech industry and U.S.-China relations; using current China-related headlines and cultural touchstones (like Chinese New Year) to demonstrate the relevance of these new products; selectively using SCMP’s relationship with Alibaba to enhance campaign resources; and aligning new products with reputable U.S. institutions and influencers.

To activate these strategies, SCMP arranged an opening bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange with a video prepared for social media and news media use. Meetups were prepared between editors and key opinion leaders. Chinese New Year boxes were distributed to tech influencers for on-camera unboxing videos.

The team partnered with Chinese American YouTubers the Fung Brothers to collaborate on INKSTONE brand video and content. A paid advertising campaign was also implemented.

The effort resulted in 171.4 million media impressions and 461 pickups by media outlets, including Bloomberg, Fox Business and Marketwatch. The website drew 207,762 new visitors during the launch period, and social media impressions and clicks for both brands were impressive.

Congratulations to Telly Wong, Evan Stainsby, Ryosuke Hoshiyama and Anumita Steinberg.

Justine F

Hospitality, Travel or Tourism Campaign

Travel by Americans outside the U.S. has grown 11% in recent years, but only 1.3% visit Australia despite a generally positive perception of the country as a desirable travel destination. The Caribbean, Europe and Hawaii are closer, and Australia’s pitch around beaches, food and wine weren’t making a compelling case for the long flight. A pivot in Tourism Australia’s approach to reaching high-value American travelers has earned first place in the “Hospitality, Travel or Tourism Campaign” of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

These travelers are accustomed to long-haul travel. They spend more and they stay longer. To reach them, Tourism Australia used the iconic 1986 movie, “Crocodile Dundee,” which helped shape the American view of Australia and was, in many ways, a tourism campaign disguised as a movie.

The team produced a series of movie trailers featuring actor-comedian Danny McBride as Mick Dundee’s long-lost son, and “Thor” actor Chris Hemsworth as his sidekick, Wally Jr. The series of trailers built anticipation for the release of the movie, bolstered by a cast featuring such notable Australian actors as Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Margot Robbie. The teasers enticed audiences to catch the release of the official full-length trailer during the Super Bowl.

However, during the Super Bowl Americans learned it was a gag: There was no movie, just a star-studded advertising campaign. At the moment the Super Bowl spot aired, all of Tourism Australia’s assets transformed into a full-scale campaign reflecting the movie theme.

Stories showcasing the campaign ran in outlets like CNN and Travel + Leisure. The campaign became the top-viewed Super Bowl campaign, reaching 9.2 billion people, amassing nearly 103 million video views and more than 218,000 social mentions.

The ad drove 11% of all tourism-related social media conversations about Australia on Super Bowl Sunday. Most important, 66% of American consumers indicated they were more likely to visit, with an 83% increase in intent to book the travel.

Congratulations to Tourism Australia.

Justine F

Health Care Campaign

It has grown increasingly difficult to reach people with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Eight drugs have been approved in the last 35 years in the U.S.—six in the last two years alone—all targeting T2D. Patients have been flooded with awareness campaigns, both direct-to-consumer and general in nature, making it difficult for any single company to stand out—especially one seeking to engage patients in a direct and honest way. Novo Nordisk found a way to break through the clutter, winning first place in the “Health Care Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The pharma company enlisted Anthony Anderson, star of the hit TV show “black-ish” and T2D patient, to motivate patients living with uncontrolled T2D to get serious about managing their disease; the campaign also sought to break down the myths associated with managing diabetes.

Specific objectives included urging people to “Get Real About Diabetes” and address their disease head-on, increasing education and support for people living with T2D and helping patients overcome the fears associated with T2D management, emphasizing the importance of following doctors’ orders and adhering to prescription protocols.

The campaign’s coup was incorporating the diabetes storyline into “black-ish,” with Anderson’s character diagnosed with T2D on the fall finale episode. The company also sponsored a segment on “Good Morning America” the day before the episode aired and implemented a paid social media strategy, along with serving content to fans of other prominent diabetes-related Facebook pages and fans of Anderson and “black-ish.”

A sentiment analysis performed on one of the campaign’s hero content pieces found that nearly a third of commenters acknowledged or committed to changing their behavior and taking control of their T2D. Campaign metrics across social media and other channels were equally impressive.

Congratulations to Novo Nordisk, BCW, Closerlook, Spark Foundry + PHM and BWR PR.

Justine F

Food or Beverage Campaign

The introduction of McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu coincided with the start of the Lunar New Year holiday season, offering an opportunity to connect the two with a social-first and culture-led campaign, underscoring the fast food leader’s reputation as a culture purveyor and a champion of diversity. The campaign has won first place in the “Food and Beverage Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

McDonald’s tapped Anna Sui, an internationally-renowned fashion designer, to create a limited edition collection of red envelopes (which traditionally signify the receipt of money or something special) that would be used in a pop-up experience in San Francisco. The envelopes featured Chinese dogs because this was the Year of the Dog.

The pop-up experience began on Jan. 23 at 1:23 p.m. with the general public, along with invited guests (including social media influencers), visiting the pop-up, where they engaged with a retro arcade device that delivered the envelopes along with coupons for free Dollar Menu items. (In addition to San Franciscans, one couple visiting from England participated after getting a text from a friend letting them know about the opportunity to get an Anna Sui envelope.)

The campaign—conceived and promoted by agency IW Group—produced coverage in more than 300 media outlets including InStyle, MSN News, Yahoo News and the South China Morning Post. Twenty-four social media influencers partnered with McDonald’s, along with six others who were compensated for their involvement, resulting in nearly 100,000 social media engagements. The agency also measured a significant impact on the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu sales tally, notably among multicultural segments.

Congratulations to the team of Telly Wong, Emily Jitsumasa, Evan Stainsby and Ryosuke Hoshiyama.

Justine F

Finance or Utilities Campaign

TriState G&T faced harsh criticism for its perceived lack of activity in renewable energy. In truth, the utility—a power supplier to 43 electric cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico—had been actively bringing renewable sources into its mix for some time. TriState set out to bring the public up to speed with a series of TV spots. The campaign has won first place in the “Finance or Utilities Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The campaign’s goals were ambitious, especially because positive sentiment about its renewable efforts stood at a rock-bottom 0%. Goals included earning 50 million impressions, improving social sentiment by 25%, increasing traffic to its renewables website by more than 100% and encouraging its members companies to participate in the campaign.

To achieve these goals, TriState recruited an actor to portray Renewable Randy, a likable, funny, self-deprecating, plaid-clad spokesperson who reminded audiences in each spot that “Thirty percent of the electricity you use comes from renewable energy.”

The message was deployed via video, broadcast, OTT, print, radio, digital, social, virtual reality, the web, editorial, sponsorships, paid and earned media and in-person appearances. The 30-second videos placed Randy in a variety of scenarios, like solar farms, wind farms and dams.

The effort surpassed its goals in a big way, with 34 member systems participating in the launch, 29 requesting the VR component and 35 asking for the life-sized cardboard standup of Randy. Sentiment on social media increased to 56%. The campaign achieved 24 million-plus impressions for broadcast video alone (nearly half of the 98 million total impressions).

Congratulations to Lee Boughey, Amy Rosier, Melissa Kendrick, Julia Perry and Sam Taggart.

Justine F

Education Campaign

DreamBox Learning is an online math program designed to complement classroom instruction. In 2017–18, the organization served 3 million K-8 students and some 120,000 teachers, and provided more than 350 million math lessons across the U.S. and Canada. A campaign to build on this success has won first place in the “Education Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

With a number of awards under its belt, the company sought investment to fuel growth, and found it with a $130 million infusion from TPG’s The Rise Fund. The investment led to a PR effort designed to increase brand awareness through three media interviews and 50 media placements, as well as to secure a high-profile speaking opportunity for CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson.

To achieve these goals, agency RH Strategic focused on the fact that the TPG investment made DreamBox Learning the most well-funded education startup, positioning the organization to make a significant impact on math education. In addition to the requisite press release, the agency sought a top-tier media exclusive, bolstered by Woolley-Wilson’s unique story as an African American woman CEO. Media pitches and speaking submissions were undertaken, as well.

Ultimately, the effort produced 104 placements, more than double the goal, including articles in Fast Company, the Seattle Times, Education Week, The Wall Street Journal and more. Woolley-Wilson was featured in a fireside chat on the main stage at Geekwire Summit, resulting in another 21 articles and 836 social shares.

Congratulations to Holly Noland, Brandon Blackwell, Danielle Ruckert, Jen Bemisderfer and Kristin Peixotto.

Justine F

Beauty, Fashion or Lifestyle Campaign

Villa Italian Kitchen is a national pizza chain with more than 200 locations across the United States. Spring is a slow time for email sign-ups, which the chain uses to drive customers to review its individual restaurant locations, leading Villa Italian Kitchen to bring BML Public Relations on board with a goal of improving average store ratings from 4.1 out of 5 stars to 4.3. Its success has won first place in the “Beauty, Fashion or Lifestyle Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The BMLPR team began by researching the national holidays it might use as a hook for a campaign. It learned that April 13 is National Kissing Day, which led to a unique and unusual fashion-oriented approach: the first ever pizza-flavored lipstick in honor of the holiday.

To get the lipstick, customers would have to sign up for the chain’s emails at its website; winners were drawn from new registrations. The photos produced for the campaign focused on the “Pepperoni Pucker,” designed to appeal to a younger demographic. Press materials announced the new product to lifestyle, features and food writers along with beauty writers.

The biggest challenge turned out to be finding a company to actually make the lipstick. The team found a dozen laboratories up to the task and settled on one. It tested several iterations of the lipstick and its flavoring before settling on a formula that delivered the taste and smell reminiscent of Villa Italian Kitchen pepperoni pizza. They also designed to lipstick tube to place the brand’s logo and the shade name sticker on the tube.

The Pepperoni Pucker was featured in national and local market outlets including Allure.com, Today and more; in all, BMLPR secured 348 stories. The campaign resulted in more than 500 new email registrations, giving rise to an improvement to 4.5 out of 5 stars for individual restaurant reviews, exceeding the client’s original goal.

Congratulations to Michelle LoGuercio, Jennifer Petrella and Nick Gustaitis.

Justine F

Automotive Campaign

Nissan’s Rear Door Alert is the auto industry’s first system to use sensors to trigger the horn and a message display on the center instrument panel to remind drivers to check the back seat after the vehicle is parked if the sensors determine something has been left behind on the back seat. Designed by two Nissan engineers, both of whom are mothers, the technology is the first-place winner in the “Automotive Campaign” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

The campaign to draw attention to the technology—and how it can prevent the kinds of tragic heatstroke incidents reported on the news far too frequently—had three goals: inform the public about the technology and its benefits, emphasize Nissan’s intelligent mobility leadership and make Nissan the first automaker to announce its commitment to a rear seat reminder technology.

The company employed fairly traditional tactics, but did so with exceptional creativity: a multimedia package, videos and b-roll (much of it featuring one of the engineers who developed the system), outreach to the automotive press, influencer coverage via one of the most important of all mommy bloggers, and amplification of the message across mainstream media.

The campaign generated more than 600 print and web articles, with top-tier coverage in outlets like USA Today, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. The VNR and ANR distribution totaled 168 mentions on local TV stations, 310 articles on local broadcast new station websites and 743 mentions on local radio broadcasts.

Congratulations to the Nissan communications team.

Justine F


The website of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) had not undergone a redesign in a decade. Designed to be static when it was created, it  failed to meet the growing needs and expectations of customers, many of whom needed to access it on a mobile device. It was clear a redesign was necessary, and the result has won first place in the “Website” category of Ragan’s 2018 PR Daily Awards.

Working with Portland Webworks, MoDOT started with research. A user survey and a review of Google Analytics helped identify how people wanted to use the site and the content they sought most often. For the redesign and migration, MoDOT formed a team from its central office and each region of the state.

The team gathered ideas and met to finalize site design and layout. It settled on Drupal, an open source content management system, as the foundation of the site. The site was designed not only to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile audience, but also to streamline the process of updating the site to make life easier for staff members.

To that end, pages on the site were built using reusable components. For instance, a contributor adding a text element selects the “Text Element” feature from the menu. The new feature has resulted in mobile bounce rates dropping to single digits.

Congratulations to Kellen Burns, Taylor Brune, Matt Hiebert and Chris Kelly.