2019 Worthy Award Winners

The city’s top communicators were recognized for their outstanding achievements last night at the GFW PRSA 2019 Worthy Awards dinner.

A total of 58 awards were handed out at the eighth annual celebration, including 32 Awards of Excellence, 16 Awards of Achievement, and ten Worthy Awards–the chapter’s highest honor. The awards recognize the best in strategic communications programs and tactics practiced by professionals and students in the greater Fort Worth area.

Check out the full list of winners, here.

Communicator of the Year
Each year, GFW PRSA recognizes a community member outside the public relations profession who demonstrates leadership and effective communication when involved in a major event or issue affecting the greater Fort Worth region. This year’s award went to Mary-Margaret Lemons, president of Fort Worth Housing Solutions.

As the leader of the city’s independent housing authority, Lemons has worked to build and maintain support for deconcentrating low-income housing in Fort Worth. She was recognized for leading the charge for affordable housing by cultivating relationships with Fort Worth City Council, senior city staff, officials at Housing and Urban Development, as well as social service agencies and private developers.

Previous honorees include Dr. Kent Scribner, Fort Worth ISD superintendent; Paul Paine, Near Northside, Inc. president; Robert Earley, JPS President and CEO; Patsy Thomas, former president Mental Health Connection; Walter Danby, former Fort Worth ISD Superintendent; Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price; and former Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns.

PRSA Professional of the Year
Michelle Gutt, the communications and public engagement director for the City of Fort Worth, is the recipient of the inaugural Douglas Ann Newsom PRSA Professional of the Year Award. The newly introduced honor recognizes PRSA members who have made significant and outstanding achievement in the profession.

Gutt has more than 25 years of marketing and public relations experience in government, corporate and nonprofit work, and currently leads communications efforts for a diverse city-wide audience. Among many accomplishments, Gutt was recognized for her work developing a robust communications plan for the city’s Race and Culture Task Force, launching the MyFW customer service app for the city, and developing and launching an extensive internal communications plan surrounding the city’s pension vote earlier this year.

2020 Board of Directors

Officers

  • President: Laura Van Hoosier, APR
  • VP Membership/President-Elect: Lesley Dupre
  • VP Programs: Margaret Ritsch, APR, Fellow PRSA
  • Treasurer: Tracy Greene
  • Treasurer-Elect: Rick Dardenne
  • Secretary: Jessamy Brown, APR
  • Past President: Beth Lamb, APR

Directors

  • Michelle Clark, APR
  • Claire Armstrong

Assembly Delegates

  • Holly Ellman
  • Jeremy Agor, APR

Join us for our GFW PRSA Half-Day Professional Development Event on Wednesday, October 9, at Colonial Country Club!

Ready to be inspired and hear a thought-provoking message from Olympian Johnny Quinn right here in Fort Worth?

You are invited to join the Greater Fort Worth Chapter of PRSA on October 9 for our professional development program.

Spend the morning learning the elite action steps of ultra-performers – men and women who find a way to get the job done with the current resources available – with author, leadership speaker and U.S. Olympian Johnny Quinn. Johnny will translate methods for productivity, performance and perseverance that he developed in the Olympics and professional football to help you and those in your organization train to become an ultra-performer in the workplace.

Following the morning session, Johnny will clearly lay out a plan to develop a champion mindset to give you and your team the ability to adapt to change and come out ahead of the competition.

Schedule

8 a.m. – Registration/Networking

8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. – “Think Like an Olympian” program featuring Johnny Quinn

11:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – Luncheon registration/networking

12 p.m.-1 p.m. – Annual Membership Meeting and “Championship Mindset” luncheon presentation featuring Johnny Quinn

***** Notice of Annual Membership Meeting of Fort Worth PRSA *****

During the annual membership meeting portion of the luncheon, members will vote on the slate of the officers compiled by the Nominations Committee for the 2020 Greater Fort Worth Chapter. (Please note: The full slate will be released prior to the meeting.)

Costs

Morning Program Only – $70.00 (all registrants)

Morning Program and Luncheon – $80.00 (all registrants)

Luncheon Only – $30.00 (members), $35.00 (national members), $35.00 (non-members), $20.00 (students)

Register here.

Parental Discretion Devised

Written by: Jeff Rodriguez, Historian

We all know that politics can be a dirty business. But on Sept. 19, 1985, things got really dirty – as in, completely inappropriate for the kids. And the PR pros.

That’s the day the U.S. Senate held a hearing on “porn rock.” The intention was to consider whether the content of some music may be inappropriate for children and, if so, what should be done about it. The driving force behind the hearing were four politically connected moms who had founded the PMRC – the Parents Music Resource Center. And the primary spokesperson for the group was Tipper Gore, wife of Senator Al Gore.

The PMRC wanted the record labels to put a warning sticker on albums that had explicit content and to create a rating system similar to the one used by the movie industry. They also wanted stores to conceal any albums with cover designs that were really hot. I mean, offensive.

Representing the degenerate musicians were Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, Frank Zappa and John Denver, who attended because he mistakenly thought the topic was endangered species. What ensued was a superb public relations battle.

To make their case, the PMRC activists and several others read song lyrics and showed music videos. As the Washington Post reported, “The litany of licentiousness generated equal amounts of laughter and groans from the standing-room-only crowd.”

The activists also cited “the Filthy Fifteen:” fifteen songs they said were particularly objectionable. The list included songs by Prince, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Madonna and Black Sabbath; a longer list also named several songs by Yanni as musical abominations, but for different reasons.

But the musicians gave as good as they got. Snider admonished the group, “The full responsibility for defending my children falls on the shoulders of my wife and I, because there is no one else capable of making these judgments for us.” Zappa – rarely one for subtlety – called the PMRC’s proposal an ill-conceived piece of nonsense,” adding it was the equivalent of treating dandruff with decapitation.”

And Denver, whom the Senators probably had considered to be a ringer, said the proposals were similar to the Nazi book burnings. He further stated, “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting” – coincidentally, words I recall being told repeatedly throughout my college years.

Despite the musicians’ strong testimony, the record industry, which had several other legislative priorities, voluntarily agreed to add the warning stickers; that’s the “Parental Advisory” labels you’ve seen on many records (and at the entrance to each Popeye’s).

Side note: Tipper Gore was hardly a prude. She played the drums, and in her youth, she sat in with The Grateful Dead. She also performed in an all-female band called the Wildcats, and I’m sure they were really hot. I mean, offensive.

In the end, both sides could claim victory. Gore’s group got their labels and were very successful in raising awareness about explicit music lyrics. The raunchy performers, meanwhile, got some great exposure. One radio personality credited the PMRC with helping popularize heavy metal, and as Dee Snider later observed, the common response from kids was, “ ‘Now we know which records to buy!’ ”

 And we in the PR profession got another good lesson. Because even when your campaign is topping the charts, you have to be ready to deal with the misses. And the Missus.

Conscious Coupling: August PR History

Written by: Jeff Rodriguez, Historian

Doris Fleischman didn’t really want to make a name for herself; she just wanted to keep the one she already had.

Born in 1891, the talented wordsmith had honed her skills at Barnard College, where, in her spare time, she lettered in three sports and studied both psychiatry and music. After college, she worked on the women’s page of a New York newspaper.

But the paper was not big enough for her talents or her aspirations. And 100 years ago – sometime during 1919 – Fleischman accepted a job working for Edward Bernays, an incredible achievement for a woman. (In case you’ve misplaced your Public Relations Family Tree, Bernays is widely considered the father of modern public relations; the matriarch is, of course, Kim Kardashian).

In a time when women could not yet vote, Fleischman worked on many of Bernays’ biggest PR campaigns. She also wrote an in-house publication titled “Contact,” which both explained the importance of PR and helped drive the firm’s success.

But Fleischman was more than a PR pioneer; she also was a pioneer in feminism, publicly advocating for women’s equality. And she demonstrated exactly what she meant in 1922. That year, she married Bernays and became an equal owner of the firm. And when they went to the hotel that evening, she signed the registry not as Mrs. Bernays, but under her own name. Reportedly, she also hogged the TV remote control.

Three years later, Fleischman staked another claim for feminism by requesting that she keep her birth name on her passport. As she explained in a letter to the government, “since the purpose of a passport is to establish identity, I assume you will not wish me to travel under a false name.” The government granted her request, and Fleischman became the first wife ever to be issued a passport in her birth name. It was another remarkable accomplishment, especially since “Fleischman” was considerably harder for bureaucrats to spell.

Bernays, ever the PR sage, probably had a hand in encouraging his wife’s actions. But that makes Fleischman’s passion no less sincere. She was a member of the Association for Women in Communications, mentored female students and helped found a competition to develop ways to help women achieve pay equity and greater equality. She also was a member of the Lucy Stone League, which encouraged women to keep their names, and her memoir was titled, “A Wife is Many Women.” To be fair, Fleischman had staff to run her house — but she also was the one running the staff.

Fleischman died in 1980, leaving a profound legacy and remarkable insight. “We thought a name itself had power to confer a separate identity,” she once wrote in a magazine article, “(but) it is the actions of women and the attitudes of men towards them that determine a woman’s status.”

So happy work anniversary, Doris. In an era when people were still figuring out what it meant to be a PR pro and what it meant to be a feminist, you showed them how to do both.