Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Media Directorate Earns Prestigious Public Relations Honors

By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service

June 10, 2008 - The Public Relations Society of America honored the Defense Department's New Media directorate with four "Silver Anvil" awards at a gala in
New York City on June 5. The DoD New Media team took the top honor in the internal communications category for associations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, winning the Silver Anvil for the "Check It" internal management controls campaign. The team also received second-place trophies in the community relations, issues management and integrated communications categories.

"I'm excited to see the Department of Defense communications team recognized by their peers from the civilian public-relations community," said Robert T. Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. "It validates that people working for the government are on the cutting edge."

DoD New Media launched the winning "Check It" campaign with the department's internal management controls program in 2007 to remind the defense community of the importance of double-checking their work to make sure it's done right.

"We wanted to get a broad message out about good stewardship, so we turned to this incredible communications team to help us with the broader campaign to get the message out," Pentagon Comptroller Tina Jonas said.

After the campaign, which touted the tagline "Check It: What Gets Checked, Gets Done," the department's material weaknesses were reduced from 116 to only 18, Jonas said. Officials define a material weakness as a deficiency in internal controls.

"The campaign helped the work force think of the job in a positive way, instead of getting negative messages," Jonas said. "I'm so proud of not only the work done to receive the awards, but for the well-being and effectiveness of our overall program."

Air Force Lt. Col. Francisco Hamm, the "Check It" communications manager from DoD New Media, cited effective collaboration with Peggy Johnson, management internal controls program manager, and participation by other internal controls managers in the campaign as the reason for its success.

"We had a great working partnership with the DoD comptroller's office, and one of the key components to the success of the program was having 2,000 active internal control managers worldwide engaged in the campaign," Hamm said.

The Public Relations Society of America's Silver Anvil Awards are widely recognized as the nation's premier awards for public relations practices. This year's winners were selected out of a record 875 entries from the private sector, government and nonprofit organizations.

Jeffrey Julin, the 2008 chair and chief executive officer of PRSA, said the "Check It" campaign stood out among the competition because of its effect on DoD as an organization. "I'm so impressed at the demonstration of the impressive campaign to drive organizational change," Julin said.

DoD New Media Director Roxie Merritt said she is pleased at the New Media directorate's showing at the 2008 Silver Anvil Awards, especially since the directorate has only existed since October 2006.

"To be acknowledged by our peers in the public relations industry for our efforts to communicate to our globally dispersed audiences in the ever-changing media landscape is a big honor," Merritt said.

Joice Truban Curry, the PRSA 2008 Silver Anvil chair, shared Merritt's sentiment. "There are so many campaigns in the private sector [that DoD New Media] was competing against, that to win four awards at the Silver Anvils is second to none."

(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of the Defense Media Agency.)

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