Gold Coast PR Council spreads Bernays Awards on area scribes

Sandy Collier won the GCPRC Presidents Award this year. Submitted photo.

By: Dale King
Contributing Writer

The coronavirus pandemic has befuddled many organizations’ efforts to present annual awards to their memberships this year.

In the end, most of those groups recovered by using alternatives means – such as computer methods – to replace usual awards gatherings.

And so it was with the Gold Coast PR Council, which opted for a Zoom presentation to hand out its Bernays Awards which honor excellence by public relations and marketing professionals in Palm Beach, Broward, Martin and Miami-Dade counties.

The GCPRC, South Florida’s largest independent association of public relations, communications and marketing professionals, has given out these honors annually since 2005, said Debbie Abrams, Gold Coast PR Council president.

Debbie Abrams, GCPRC’s Founders Award winner and president of the Gold Coast PR Council. Submitted photo.

At the start of this year’s Bernays Awards, GCPRC paid special tribute to two previous award winners who recently passed away:

  • John Shuff of JES Media, publisher of Boca Magazine, who was remembered by Group Editor-in-Chief Marie Speed.
  • Jay Van Vechten, founder of The Boating and Beach Bash in Boca Raton, a four-time Bernays Award recipient, who was eulogized by his widow, Lowell Van Vechten.

The PR council’s Presidents Award, which goes to a person or organization for truly outstanding performance, was awarded to Sandy Collier of Hey Sandy! PR & Communications in Wellington for her work on behalf of evacuees from the Bahamas following the deadly and destructive ravages of Hurricane Dorian last year. The PR boss even put together a special dinner and breakfast to help ease the islanders’ suffering.

Previous winners of this award include the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for its coverage of the Parkland school shooting and its aftermath/2019; Elizabeth Kelley Grace and Julie Mullen of The Buzz Agency/2017; cultural reporters Rod Hagwood (Sun-Sentinel), Jan Sjostrom (Palm Beach Daily News) and Leslie Streeter (Palm Beach Post)/2016; publishers John and Margaret Mary Shuff (Boca Magazine)/2015; Florida Weekly and The Coastal Star/2014.

Bernays Award categories and this year’s winners include:

PR campaign/large company or firm – The Moore Agency – Vision Zero/City of WPB

PR campaign/small company or firm – Katnip Marketing – Susan Goldfein Awards

Crisis communications – Loggerhead Marinelife Center – Protecting LMC against Hurricane Dorian

Nonprofit project or campaign –- The Buzz Agency – Boca Helping Hands + The Old Truck

Social media campaign/nonprofit – Florida Atlantic University – Tyler Cameron, Will You Accept This Rose: A Social Media Campaign Highlighting FAU’s Most Popular Bachelor.

Social media campaign/corporate – Mugsy PR – BD You for Body Details.

Special Event – Food for the Poor – Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic.

Marketing material/print – Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County – Your Guide to County Finances, Fiscal Year 2018

Marketing material/digital – Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County – “Don’t Click That”

Scott Benarde, GCPRC’s PR Star Award winner. Submitted photo.

The PR Star Award which goes to a person or organization that made an extraordinary splash last year was awarded to Scott Benarde for coverage of the reopening of the Norton Museum of Art following a $100-million renovation.

The Founders Award which goes to a person or organization that has made a lasting contribution to GCPRC was presented to Debbie Abrams, president of the Gold Coast PR Council and senior vice president of The Buzz Agency.

More than 60 local PR professionals participated online. The ceremony was hosted by T.A. Walker, WPTV’s Taste & See entertainment reporter.