Cisco, Florida Realtors, JBL, Pan Communications among Communicator of the Year Award winners

Dozens of remarkable professionals—including two Hall of Fame inductees—light up Ragan’s Communicators of the Year Awards for outstanding efforts in social media, marketing, internal communication and more.

Stellar veterans, exciting newcomers and superb teams were recognized as  Communicators of the Year and Rising Stars by Ragan and PR Daily.

The 34 individuals and teams from multiple countries and business sectors are the best of the best—specialists in social media, measurement, government comms, media relations and much more.

Two Hall of Famers lead the galaxy of shining communication stars:

Lauren Gongora, who oversees key accounts in the Boden agency portfolio, including Target and McDonald’s. She pitched and won the Target Hispanic PR AOR business and has expanded the business from one category to nine total. Working with McDonald’s to engage its key Hispanic consumer segment, she led the development of a communications and social media program focused on music, sports and education. It aligns McDonald’s with memory-making moments that celebrate Hispanic passion points.

She has led the development of thought-provoking and engaging presentations for industry events, including Hispanicize, Multicultural Retail 360 Summit, Portada Marketing & Advertising Summit, We All Grow, and industry professional meet-ups coordinated by the Hispanic Public Relations Association.

Philip A. Nardone, president and CEO of PAN Communications, an integrated marketing and PR firm with nearly $25 million in revenue, stemming from six straight years of double-digit revenue growth. His ability to work closely with his executives, to think strategically and to lead PAN through regional, national and global expansion has generated tremendous success. He has brought the firm up to 150-plus employees in Boston, San Francisco, New York, Orlando and London.

Beyond the bottom line, PAN’s community efforts and corporate philanthropy program, PANcares, have donated $70,000 in pro bono PR services to PAN’s partner organizations—including and Covenant House and the MA Coalition for the Homeless—since November 2017.

The notable achievements panned an extensive gamut.

For example, Carmen Collins of Cisco, went so far as to teach her colleagues the full, 16-bar “Thriller” dance at a Halloween costume party, record the performance, and post it on social media to wide acclaim—and with a significant boost in camaraderie.

Hers was one of several companies grabbing multiple wins:

Cisco notched three awards: Editor of the Year winner Casie Shimansky, known among colleagues for using “pixie dust” to make copy sparkle; Digital Communicator of the Year winner Carmen Collins of “Thriller” fame; and Social Media Team of the Year (1-9 people).

PAN Communications was named Marketing Team of the Year (1-9 people), lauded for its Content Fitness Report and its CMO Predictions Campaign. Meanwhile, company CEO Philip A. Nardone is one of our esteemed Hall of Fame inductees.

Florida Realtors Association won for Communications Team of the Year (10-24 people), which boasts a robust circle of veterans, including PR Team Leader of the Year Jeff Zipper, a 35-year stalwart of that renowned group.

The honorees span the globe—from London to Durham, N.C., to California to New South Wales, Australia. Their professional efforts stretch from putting music inside millennials’ ears to settling families into comfy homes, from highlighting the importance of cultural heritage to tightening cybersecurity in an increasingly perilous digital world.

Today’s communicators face an array of challenges, and they step up in bold ways—with a spark of inspiration for a single campaign or with a sustained effort that inspires decades’ worth of colleagues.

Concerted achievements

Of course, teamwork is the heart and soul of communications, so we salute teams large and small, dedicated to particular disciplines and responsibilities. From legal services to the increasingly important realm of health care, these squadrons of professionals—numbering from two people to two dozen—take on diverse challenges.

They inspire one another in extraordinary ways; consider these vibrant stories from the real estate realm.

VP Kerry McGovern gathered Re/Max communicators and told a story: Touring NASA, President John F. Kennedy asked a janitor what work he did. The janitor replied, “I’m here to put a man on the moon.” That instilled a unity of purpose in her previously siloed colleagues.

Taking a more whimsical approach, the Florida Realtors cadre set a Guinness world record, with 314 people forming the largest-ever human key to embody their own home-centric mission.

Exemplary Team Awards go to high-tech specialty companies Peraton and Victaulic; real estate chain Re/Max; financial services companies American Express, KeyCorp, Prudential, Blackhawk Network and MSU Federal Credit Union; law firm McDermott Will & Emery; London-based educational publisher Pearson; and Tampa General Hospital.

Outstanding individuals

Commvault’s Miranda Foster transformed the attendant challenges of transitioning under a new CEO into glowing opportunities—introducing the new boss to a global audience, including Commvault employees, in a high-impact listening tour.

Brooks Wallace of the Hollywood Agency relied on vivid storytelling to develop successful campaigns for e-scooter manufacturer Superpedestrian and for Vesper, a maker of microphones, as the latter strove to make kitchens and bathrooms a lot cleaner with its technology for Simplehuman’s voice-activated trash cans.

Our recipients in key categories hail from PR firms Haymaker, SSPR and the Hollywood Agency; regional promotion for Macon-Bibb County and Discover Durham; tech-security company Commvault; a retail chain, Sheetz; and a maker of music technology, JBL.

Up-and-coming young pros

Our Rising Stars are already making a splash in the PR pool: Celeste Carswell of Global Strategy Group in Washington, D.C.; Michelle Heard of the health care nonprofit Ascension; Maya Ivanovic at Palin Communications in Australia; Sierra Bonner of Layton Construction; and Casey Robertson at Weidner Apartment Homes.

The dozens of winning teams and individuals stood out among many noteworthy nominees, showing how deep the pride, talent and commitment run in communications today. Read more about the winners here.


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