New Online Nomination Form

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS: Nomination forms must be received by Friday, November 2. Nominations received after that date will not be considered. If a nominee is not selected, they will be eligible in future years, but their nomination must be resubmitted.

  1. The annual Rising Star Award by the Maine Public Relations Council (MPRC) recognizes a young public relations professional who has exhibited extraordinary achievement and outstanding work in the public relations profession. Nominees must be a member in good standing of MPRC and must have at least two years of experience in the public relations/communications profession. Any individual is invited to submit a nomination. Current MPRC members can nominate another member or self-nominate.
  2. The annual Bernays Award is the highest honor bestowed by MPRC to a single practitioner. An honorary member of MPRC until his death, Edward Bernays is recognized as the “father of public relations” for a lifetime of work integral to the recognition of public relations as a profession with scientific grounding. In his spirit, this award recognizes a public relations professional who has exhibited extraordinary achievement and outstanding leadership in the public relations profession, along with community service and unmatched professional integrity and ethical behavior in their practice of public relations.
  3. Named in honor of the late Midge Vreeland, the Midge Vreeland Public Service Award embodies the core principles held by Midge Vreeland—integrity, commitment to community service and a willingness to advance organizations and their causes.


October 25

162 Main Street
Freeport, Maine 04032

Conference Program

SPONSOR: Machias Savings Bank

8:00 am                           Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:45 am                            Annual Meeting

9:15 am                            Opening Keynote – Leslie Gaines-Ross


Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross is one of the world’s most widely recognized experts on CEO and corporate reputation.

                                          Reputation Management in Today’s World

In response to an unprecedented number of high profile corporate reputation crises, Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, one of the world’s most widely recognized experts on CEO and corporate reputation, will address how companies can protect and manage their most valuable asset—reputation.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, a global public relations agency with offices in 81 countries, Dr. Gaines-Ross was Chief Knowledge & Research Officer Worldwide at Burson-Marsteller and Marketing & Communications Director at Fortune. The author of two highly regarded books — CEO Capital: A Guide to Building CEO Reputation and Company Success and Corporate Reputation: 12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation, Dr. Gaines-Ross was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics by Ethisphere Magazine and PR Week’s 2017 In-House Professional of the Year.

10:00 am                          Group Session – Guided Tabletop Discussions

                                             In Their Shoes: Reactions & Reflections of the Real World

Do you know what to do if you, an employee, or your company faces a potentially reputation damaging accusation or confrontation? Using real-life scenarios, this group activity will provide participants with the opportunity to assess, discuss and compare how best to respond to reputational management challenges, such as onsite protests, social media comments, #MeToo accusations or questionable employee behavior and more.

The goal of this interactive sessions is to spark a candid conversations that uncover what we know and don’t know about how best to manage reputation risks.

10:45 am                            Break & Room Transition

11:00 am                              Breakout Sessions

                                               Breakout #1: Inside Job–How to Scale and Run Your In-House PR Team

SPONSOR: Husson College

Are you an in-house PR professional ready to make your next hire? Do you struggle with communicating PR’s value to your leadership? Don’t understand how to incorporate agency support into your day-to-day operation? If you’re wrestling with questions like these, come to this session to hear from in-house practitioners and leaders across business, non-profit and government sectors, who will share their insight about how they’ve built strong internal teams, and how those teams have proven to be valuable in-house counsel.


Yuri Nabokov, Innovation and Digital Strategy Manager, Machias Savings Bank

Panel Members:

Victoria Bonney, Communications Director for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Clay Holtzman, Sr. Director Communications & Public Affairs, Maine Medical Center

Nicola Morris, Chief Corporate Development Officer, WEX

                                                Breakout #2: Turning your Passion into a Well-Run Business

SPONSOR: University of Southern Maine

They say when you own your own business “there is nowhere to hide.” You wear all the hats. Whether you are a freelancer, solopreneur or agency owner, the path to success is similar. This session will provide a forum to discuss best practices when going it alone, including understanding how to put a professional services team together, managing cash and finances, developing employees and growing client relationships; all while, still having fun and keeping your passions alive.

Moderator: Marnie Grumbach, President, Fluent IMC

Panel Members:

Angie Helton, President, Northeast Media Associates

Judy Katzel, President, KDK Consulting

Jacques Santucci, President, Opus Consulting

Noon                                        Lunch        SPONSOR: Rinck Advertising

1:00 pm                                   Expert Panel Discussion

                                                  Strategic Crisis Communications from Minute One, Day One


Learn the nuts and bolts playbook strategies used by a lawyer, HR professional and go-to crisis communications expert to strengthen your crisis communications response. You will gain a deeper understanding of the planning process that should take place before a statement is issued. Discussion will include audience analysis, legal implications, liability, personnel policy, right to privacy, and more.


Linda Varrell, APR, Broadreach Public Relations


Deborah Whitworth, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Owner & CEO, HR Studio Group

Ron Schnieder, Labor and Employment Attorney, Bernstein Shur

Tom Becker, Manager NY Office, Sitrick and Company

2:00 pm                                Break & Happy Hour

2:30 pm                                 Closing Keynote- Elizabeth Peavey

Elizabeth Peavey is an award-winning writer, performer and educator. She has also served as a lecturer of public speaking at the University of Southern Maine for over 20 years.

                                                 Never Let them See you Sweat: Finding Poise in Any Situation

Maintaining “grace under fire” is difficult in most any circumstance, however in tense and stressful situations it is essential, especially if you are tasked with being the face of your company or client. Whether you are in-house counsel or an outside consultant, maintaining a sense of calm confidence is vital to handling conflict and crisis. Public speaking coach, Elizabeth Peavey, will show us how to communicate clearly and effectively in stressful situations where body language and voice pitch can easily be misunderstood. This interactive session will be both informative and entertaining.

Elizabeth Peavey is an award-winning writer, performer and educator. Her one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, has played to sold-out houses since 2011 and received the Maine Literary Award for Best Drama. She now presents an abbreviated version of the show and conducts talkback sessions for eldercare audiences. In 2015, she launched a memoir-writing program for older adults and went on to develop an online version through OLLI’s Senior College.

Peavey served as a lecturer of public speaking at USM for over 20 years. She’s the author of three books and has appeared in Down East magazine since 1993. She currently coaches corporate and private speech clients in fields ranging from the arts and advocacy to finance and industry. She’s a frequent guest lecturer and speaker at schools, libraries and associations across the state.

3:30 pm                              Closing Remarks

3:45- 4:30 pm                   Networking/Broad Arrow Tavern

Op-Ed published in the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel

Op-ED written by Board Member Wayne Clark, with the approval of the MPRC Board.

Maine Voices: Public relations practitioners stand with their colleagues in journalism. These professions form a key partnership that keeps the …

Maine Voices: Public relations practitioners stand with their colleagues in journalism. These professions form a key partnership that keeps the public informed …