Media Relations Contact

Mike Lauer

Chair, PRSA Philadelphia

Communications Committee


PRSA Philadelphia Recognizes Best-in-Class Public Relations Programs and Individuals at 50th Annual Pepperpot Awards

Nov. 14, 2018 (PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held its 50th annual Pepperpot and Achievement Awards event on November 13 at the Down Town Club in Philadelphia.

The PRSA Pepperpot Awards are a staple in the Philadelphia region, recognizing best-in-class PR campaigns, tactics and professionals. The “Pepperpots” were named 50 years ago in 1968 by Bill Parker, APR, then-chapter president and head of the Campbell Soup’s communications department, as a play on the famous “catch-all” Philadelphia soup to represent the effort and variety that PR professionals put into their campaigns.

The event honors public relations campaigns and tactics submitted by organizations across the Greater Philadelphia region. Over 100 entries were judged in 32 campaign and tactic categories ranging from short- and long-term events, to community relations and fundraising, to crisis and issues communications campaigns. Tactics included op-eds, websites, magazines, annual reports, feature stories, blogs and public service announcements, among others. Judging is conducted independently by partner chapters that are assigned by PRSA National. This year, members from the Fort Worth PRSA Chapter judged the entries.

For the first time, the Pepperpots “Best in Show” award was a tie – with both winners registering perfect scores in all categories. The 2018 Best in Show Pepperpot awards went to: 

  • Independence Blue Cross for its Independence Blue Cross Celebrates Champion Season
  • AKCG – Public Relations Counselors for its Philadelphia Inquirer Feature Series: Thought-leadership Positioning in a Crowded Healthcare Market for Mercy Health System

A complete list of 2018 winners is below.

PRSA Philadelphia also recognized Lynn H. Yeakel, MSM, Founder and President of the Vision 2020 initiative as the recipient of the 2018 Integrity Award. The Integrity Award is given to an individual or team who has demonstrated commitment to ethics and integrity to better the profession to which they belong and/or the community. Ms. Yeakel was selected for her work on the Vision 2020 initiative. Vision 2020 is a national coalition of individuals and organizations with millions of members in all 50 states working for women's economic, political and social equality in the United States.

Marilyn Russell, AM Host for WOGL Radio, was the emcee for the evening.

Individual achievement awards were also presented to the following outstanding PRSA members:

  • The Anthony J. Fulginiti Award for Commitment to Education was presented to Scott Tattar, Professor at Drexel University and Principal of Tattar Strategic Communications
  • The Frank X. Long Award for Excellence in Writing was presented to Mark Eggerts, Independence Blue Cross
  • The Anne Sceia Klein Professional Promise Award was awarded to Milan Genovese, Villanova University
  • The President’s Award was bestowed upon Kim Nissen, Siemens Healthineers

“Presiding over PRSA Philly’s Golden Anniversary Pepperpot Awards was an extreme honor!  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers of this chapter for their early work and legacy,” said John F. Kouten, President, PRSA Philadelphia, CEO of JFK Communications, Inc. “As a 28-year PRSA member, I can say without hesitation that this event was the high-point of my PRSA career. I know our founders can be confident that the future of PRSA Philadelphia is in good hands.”

A special thank you to the generous sponsors of our Golden Anniversary Pepperpot Awards: Bill Cowen and Villanova University; John Moscatelli and JJM Communications; Vault Communications; 20/20 Visual Media and Businesswire.

PRSA Philadelphia provides opportunities for professional development, mentoring and networking for communications professionals. The chapter also produces the region’s most prominent communications job bank and opportunities to earn professional accreditation.  

For more information about the chapter, volunteer opportunities or its board of directors, visit; follow PRSA Philly on Twitter (@PRSAPhilly), LinkedIn (PRSA Philly), or Instagram (PRSA Philly); or connect with the chapter on Facebook (PRSA Philadelphia Chapter). For information on PRSA national, please visit

2018 Pepperpot Award Winners

Program Categories

Public Service

Pepperpot: AKCG – Public Relations Counselors
Ladle: Klunk & Millan

Reputation / Brand Management

Pepperpot: CSL Behring
Ladle: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

Special Events & Observances – Seven days or fewer - budget less than $15K

Ladle: Axalta with Vault Communications

Special Events & Observances – Seven days or fewer – budget more than $15K

Pepperpot: Gift of Life Donor Program
Ladle: Hornercom

Special Events & Observances – Seven days or more – budget more than $15K

Ladle: Penn State Brandywine

Community Relations

Pepperpot: AKCG – Public Relations Counselors
Ladle: Philadelphia Gas Works

Pro Bono Programs

Pepperpot: Buchanan Public Relations

Development or Fundraising

Pepperpot: Buchanan Public Relations
Ladle: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

Marketing Communications – New Products and Services

Pepperpot: Hologic with Vault Communications
Ladle: Buchanan Public Relations

Marketing Communications – Established Services

Pepperpot: National Pest Management Association with Vault Communications

Marketing Business-to-Business

Ladle: Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Integrated Communications

Pepperpot: Independence Blue Cross
Ladle: W2O Group and Stockton University (tie)

Multicultural Communications

Pepperpot: Visit Philadelphia
Ladle: Gift of Life Donor Program

Internal / Employee Communications

Pepperpot: AKCG – Public Relations Counselors

Social Media

Pepperpot: AMResorts with Vault Communications
Ladle: Visit Philadelphia and Gift of Life Donor Program (tie)

Media Relations: For Profit

Pepperpot: Buchanan Public Relations 
Ladle: PUNCH Media

Media Relations: Not-for-Profit

Pepperpot: AKCG – Public Relations Counselors
Ladle: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

Tactic Categories


Pepperpot: Trinseo


Pepperpot: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey


Pepperpot: Penn Medicine Communications Department


Pepperpot: Buchanan Public Relations

Investor Relations

Ladle: Trinseo

Annual Reports

Ladle: Drexel University

Special-Purpose Publications

Pepperpot: Trinseo with Vault Communications
Ladle: FMC Corporation

Audio / Video Programs

Ladle: W2O Group

Feature Stories

Pepperpot: AKCG – Public Relations Counselors
Ladle: Lehigh Mining & Navigation

Editorial / Op-eds

Ladle: Gift of Life Donor Program


Pepperpot: United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
Ladle: Aqua America with Vault Communications

Blogger Campaigns

Pepperpot: ChatterBlast Media
Ladle: ChatterBlast Media

Social Media Platform

Ladle: Penn Medicine Princeton Health

Smartphone / Tablet Applications

Pepperpot: Thomas’ English Muffins and Bagels with Vault Communications

Press Conferences

Pepperpot: Siemens Healthineers
Ladle: Penn Medicine Communications Department

To submit your Chapter-related news and member accomplishments,  please contact Amanda Hoffman at

Posting is at the discretion of PRSA Philadelphia.


The 2016 Maxine Elkin Award for Distinguished Service 

By Michele Cohen, associate director of media relations at The Wharton School and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

After ten years of working at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)Ashley Moore continues to feel like “the luckiest PR professional in the world.” As Senior Public Relations Specialist supporting CHOP’s Department of Surgery, Ashley’s role is to share the stories of some of the most amazing medical breakthroughs, dedicated doctors, nurses and researchers, and most of all the inspiring stories of young patients.

Ashley’s achievement in telling one of those exceptional stories led to her being recognized with The Maxine Elkin Award for Distinguished Service at PRSA Philly's 48th annual Pepperpot and Achievement Awards Gala last December. She was nominated by a colleague in CHOP’s marketing department, who admired her efforts in chronicling the journey of a little boy named Zion Harvey.

In 2008, at age 2, Zion Harvey developed a life-threatening infection that required amputation of both of his hands and his legs below the knee. In 2012, his mother brought Zion, then 6, from their home in Baltimore to Philadelphia to speak with doctors about fitting Zion with prosthetic hands. But instead the doctors suggested a rare and extremely complex procedure: a bilateral hand transplant, or a double hand transplant. In 2015, Zion became the first child in the world to undergo the surgery and his team of surgeons successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto Zion.

Ashley was tasked with telling his story – with the help of her colleagues, she developed a plan to capture footage of Zion a year before his transplant, during his pre-surgical testing, at his house and his school, and more. They filmed for 24 hours straight the day of his transplant surgery and followed him for another year post-op.

Their efforts led to unprecedented national and international news coverage – more than 5,000 placements - including NBC Nightly News, an appearance on The Today Show and an article in People magazine, among others. 

“Since Zion was only a 9-year-old boy, we had a strategic PR plan to limit the amount of interviews with him but maximize the amount of exposure,” Ashley said. “The photos and video footage we captured let us tell the story without having media overwhelm Zion or disrupt his medical care. News outlets were happy use our materials in their coverage.” 

Because the surgery was the first of its kind in a child, Ashley received press attention from around the world. With the help of her colleagues, CHOP hosted two large press conferences, the first in August of 2015, following Zion’s surgery, and an even larger one in 2016 for the one-year anniversary. “Zion’s story really captured the hearts and attention of people around the world, media outlets were eager to provide an update on how he was doing with his new hands”

Ashley was honored to quarterback telling Zion’s story, but it would not have been possible without her incredible public relations and marketing colleagues at CHOP, important collaboration with the PR teams at Penn Medicine and Gift of Life, as well as the trust of the surgical team.

Ashley said she was honored to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. One of her favorite things about her job is that she’s constantly learning and no day is ever the same, whether she’s filming a surgery, meeting with researchers in their laboratory, working with patients or speaking with journalists. She loves the fact that there are so many stories to tell every day.

“It was my dream job to work at CHOP” she said. “My colleagues and I often connect with parents and children during some of the toughest times of their lives – a cancer diagnosis, a tragic accident, finding out their unbornbaby has a life threatening birth defect…life altering events that many of us cannot even imagine. Yet, these patients and their families want to share their story with others – to educate, to inspire, and to provide hope.Everyday I’m in awe of their courage!”

Watch a story about Zion on NBC here

Read a chronicle of Zion’s journey at CHOP here


The 2016 Best-in-Show Award

By Caitlan McCafferty, public relations account manager at Furia Rubel Communications and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

At the 2016 Philadelphia Pepperpots, Anne Klein Communications Group took home the coveted “best-in-show” award for its “Age-Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative” for the Ralston Center. I recently had a chance to talk to Mike Gross, COO & Senior Vice President at Anne Klein Communications Group about the firm’s big win.

Tell me more about the campaign for the Ralston Center.

Ralston Center partnered with AKCG to launch a robust public service program – the “Age-Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative” – that helps enable older West Philadelphians to live independently and have a quality life in their communities. The initiative kicked off with a press conference and community event that engaged dozens of community-partner organizations, elected officials, other supporters and many of the seniors the initiative aims to help. The launch event took place on May 31, 2016.

What was your role on the campaign for the Ralston Center?

Ralston Center had worked diligently over several months to organize and vet the Initiative though countless community partners. They also conducted listening sessions with older adults in West Philadelphia to thoroughly tailor the program to best meet the needs of the community. AKCG’s role was to help design and execute a launch “moment” for the Initiative. Our outreach efforts intentionally were aimed at engaging target audiences, which included community partners, older adults who would benefit from the initiative and regional broadcast media to help carry the message more broadly.

What was your favorite part of the campaign?

We love working with good people doing good work. We were particularly thrilled to learn that several prospective community partners inquired about how they could participate in the various components of the Initiative following the launch event. While we don’t believe in publicity for publicity’s sake, it has its role in the PR toolbox when we aim to motivate an audience to act.

How did you feel winning “Best in Show” at the Pepperpots?

It was truly thrilling and quite a surprise. This program’s budget was tiny compared to some of the flashier programs executed by many great organizations and businesses showcased during the award ceremony. The win was a nice reminder that effective programs, with measurable objectives (regardless of their budgets), can bring home the big pot.

Was there an especially innovative tactic used that you think contributed to the campaign’s success?

I’ve learned over the years that it’s not the tactics that matter as much as the strategy. For example, for the launch moment itself, we could have had an eye-catching PR stunt or other attention-grabbing antic. Instead, we focused on the right audience and messages. We built the press briefing around these 100-or-so folks who attended and aimed to emotionally connect those community leaders, senior advocates and industry officials to Ralston Center. Sure, we included a culmination, “unveiling” moment of the Initiative’s three pillars for media in attendance, but our goal was deeper than coverage alone.

Did you learn anything from this project that you will bring to future campaigns?

Each program comes with its own set of successes and lessons learned. This program – and our close work with the great people at Ralston Center – reminded us that promoting a worthwhile program makes for a rewarding day.