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PRAL-BR Announces 2020 Honorees

The Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL) - Baton Rouge Chapter has named LSU head football Coach Ed Orgeron Communicator of the Year for its annual Red Stick Awards program. Initially set for April 17, the event has been rescheduled for October 2 at the Lod Cook Alumni Center due to stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19. 

The Red Stick Award luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and feature keynote speaker Matt Moscona, ESPN radio host. The event honors the best in the communications and public relations field in the greater Baton Rouge area. Industry peers nominate individuals for the four prestigious awards, and the best work of public relations professionals will be recognized.

Award recipients include:

LSU head football Coach Ed Orgeron was voted as this year's Communicator of the Year, which goes to an individual in the community who has demonstrated a high degree of skill in communicating effectively through the media. After a lot of skepticism when he was hired, Coach O followed through on his promise to the community to bring home an SEC and National Championship. Since his hire, he has been one of the most effective brand ambassadors for LSU. Coach O stayed on message so strictly that his signature ending phrase, “Geaux tigers!” has become a national catchphrase with commentators waiting for him to say it before ending an interview.

He has developed a reputation for honesty, empathy and was the subject of numerous profiles during last year's historic win leading to respected players and commentators wondering out loud how anyone would not want to play for him. The good publicity he cultivated led to increased applications for the flagship university and another high ranking recruiting class. It brought national attention to his small Louisiana hometown and the entire state.  

Previous recipients include Congressman Garret Graves, longtime WAFB anchor Donna Britt, Governor John Bel Edwards, and local celebrity chef Jay Ducote.

Kelly Zimmerman earned the title of First Circle Award recipient, PRAL's highest honor bestowed upon practitioners with the utmost standards of professional and personal integrity. Serving as press secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health for the past four years, Zimmerman has garnered national attention and prominence for Louisiana's Medicaid expansion, the hepatitis C elimination plan, improvements in maternal health, and numerous other achievements. As a parent of two children at St. George School, Zimmerman has assisted with the largest yearly fundraiser at the school's annual fair. She also has served as the pro bono chair on the PRAL board of directors for the last two years, helping the organization provide marketing and communications training to nonprofits across the state. She was last year's Member of the Year for these efforts.

Caroline Isemann was chosen as Practitioner of the Year for her contributions in the field of healthcare communications in Baton Rouge. As a public relations coordinator for Woman's Hospital, she has helped to highlight the organization's expert care for women and infants, including receiving national media attention this year for the GRACE Program to help pregnant women suffering from opioid misuse. As a former communications specialist with Our Lady of the Lake, she also handled media relations of Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital and spent several years working on promoting the new children's hospital that opened last fall. This is in addition to serving as president of the local chapter of PRAL and her volunteer communications work with local nonprofit Anna's Grace Foundation.

Lauren Davidson, the Account Director with Feigley Communications, was selected as Member of the Year for her role in overseeing member communications for the organization. She has completely revamped the monthly newsletter and helps PRAL's members stay updated on recent industry trends, local job openings and relevant information to their careers. She has also proactively helped the group fine-tune its budgeting process and plans to serve as treasurer next year. She always volunteers to help her fellow board members when needed.

Before the awards luncheon, a professional development session, centered around the theme "Building Your Personal Brand” will be held from 8:30-11 a.m. at Lod Cook. 

Speakers include Dr. Tommy Karam, a sports marketing expert at LSU; Courtney Scott, chief service officer in the Baton Rouge Mayor's Office; Jay Ducote, chef and owner of Gov't Taco; Jordan Hefler, photographer, podcaster, social media influencer, and brand educator; and Matt Moscona, ESPN radio host. 

All PRAL events are geared toward helping communicators, marketers, and public relations professionals. For more information or to register for the PRAL-BR Red Stick Awards, visit pralstate.org/PRALBRawards

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