It was another best-in-show sweep for a local PR firm at this year’s Virginia Public Relations Awards, which also recognized a longtime local practitioner.
Minneapolis-based Padilla, which has an office in Manchester, took home the two top honors in the awards’ competitive categories, winning best-in-shows for campaigns for its work for Virginia Wine and in the tactics division for its work with Virginia Lottery, which shared the recognition.
It was the second such sweep for Padilla in recent years, having picked up three best-in-shows in 2017. The year before, ad agency NDP likewise swept the top honors.
Beth Monroe, PR and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, was recognized with this year’s Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Public Relations. And Vera Magdeeva of Gray Ryan Communications, formerly Commonwealth Partnerships, was the recipient of this year’s Rising Star Award.
Held May 23 at The Hotel John Marshall, the awards are put on by the Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. PRSA’s Georgia Chapter in Atlanta judged the awards. NBC12’s Andrew Freiden emceed the ceremony.
Padilla’s work for Virginia Wine included a new brand identity and launch campaign with involvement from Joe Smith, the local office’s in-house brand consultancy that Padilla acquired in 2015.
For Virginia Lottery, the firm – which last year was acquired by Montreal-based Avenir Global – honed its social media strategy for a campaign in its third year recognizing Virginia teachers.
Padilla also picked up a first-place award in each of the two competitive categories. Other first-place recipients in the campaigns division included CarMax, Keiter, Maidson+Main, Science Museum of Virginia, Vance, VCU, VCU Business Services, VCU Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity, and Virginia Retirement System.
First-place awards in the tactics category went to Capital One, CarMax, Charles Ryan Associates, Commonwealth Public Relations, Hodges Partnership, OFD Consulting, Sara Hunt PR, Think, VCU, VCU School of Nursing, VDOT and Virginia ABC.
Monroe was recognized for her 20-plus years leading PR for the botanical garden, as well as her other local involvements that have included Richmond Region Tourism’s OutRVA campaign to market the area to LGBTQ+ tourists. A JMU graduate with a master’s degree in communication from Radford University, Monroe previously worked in PR at Radford and The Salvation Army.
The Jefferson award includes a $1,000 prize for recipients to give to a local nonprofit. Monroe donated her prize to PRSA Foundation to benefit student scholarships and developmental programs.