2019 PRoof awards recognize excellence in public relations


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 23, 2019 - The West Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) recognized national-caliber, award-winning people, programs, and initiatives on Wednesday night at their 34th annual PRoof Awards at Clearwater Place with emcee, Marvis Herring from WOOD TV-8 at the helm. The PRoof Awards recognizes practitioners who successfully used skill, creativity, and resourcefulness to address a communications challenge in 2018. The awards competition is open to public relations, communications, and marketing professionals who work in West Michigan.

In 2018, WMPRSA restructured West Michigan PRoof Award categories to align with those of the parent organization Public Relations Society of America national awards, the Silver and Bronze Anvils. In 2019, PRoof committee members Sarah Pazdziora, Amy LeFebre, Roberta King, Morgan Shaffer and Amanda Hume raised the stakes again and instead of simply awarding Gold and Silver to the top two point-earners in each category, established a minimum of 80 in a 100-point scale in order to qualify for an award. This is consistent with other national awards programs and the chapter’s continuous effort to raise the bar of excellence.WMPRSA received a record 131 entries which were judged by a reciprocal PRSA chapter, located in San Diego, California.

“The team really focused on improving the judging criteria for this year’s award ceremony,” said Sarah Pazdziora, communications & PR specialist at Trace3 and WMPRSA PRoof Award chairperson. “We felt that it was important to align our point system with the standards of other PRSA national award programs so that award recipients could easily submit their winning campaign or tactic to any of PRSA’s most prestigious award shows.”

WMPRSA President, Andrea Finnigan added, “This year’s record number of entries showed some serious talent from West Michigan public relations pros and highlighted excellent and creative work being done in our community.”


Following please find: individual award winners, campaign winners and tactics winners.




2019 Communicator of the Year Award

This award honors a community leader - not a PRSA member or communicator by trade - for his or her outstanding contributions to West Michigan.

Winner: Cheryl Schuch of Family Promise Grand Rapids (nominated by board member, Abbey Sladick)

2019 Public Relations Professional of the Year

Honoring the best in public relations in 2018. This person's contribution to a program or the profession stand out as an outstanding example of the relationship between an organization and the public it represents.

Winner: Dr. Adrienne Wallace, Grand Valley State University (nominated by board member, Amy LeFebre)

2019 Media Person of the Year

This honor is given to a deserving journalist, editor or publisher for their outstanding contributions to the field of journalism in West Michigan.

Winner: Nick Manes of the Michigan Advance (nominated by board member, Roberta King)

2019 Student of the Year 

This award honors a PRSSA student demonstrating leadership in and out of the classroom.

Winner: Trevor Bryan, Grand Valley State University, 2018 President GVPRSSA, (nominated by board member, Adrienne Wallace)

2019 Newcomer of the Year

This award is given to a professional who has less than three years of experience in the PR profession and has demonstrated the potential for becoming an outstanding practitioner.

Winner: Sean Billisitz, GVSU AdPR Alumni, associate account executive at Truscott Rossman (nominated by Tim Dye)


Spectrum Health, “The Next Us” – Wave 2 of the Nexus Journey. Spectrum Health also won the Best of Show category in 2018.

About the campaign: Spectrum Health’s Nexus journey was the most transformative initiative in the health system’s 20-year history. The first and most critical step was the implementation of Epic, an electronic health record system. This change was so monumental it was split into two waves: Wave 1 in November 2017 and Wave 2 in May 2018. Using lessons learned and economies of scale from Wave 1, Wave 2 involved 8,000 employees across eight regional hospitals and 23 additional locations. Spectrum equipped its leaders to be ambassadors, prepared employees for the change, supported the organization through a successful system switch, leveraged digital tools and came in under budget.


ALL 2019 PRoof Award Winners - Campaigns & Tactics


Strategic Public Relations Campaigns

Community Relations

Silver - Lambert & Co., West Ottawa Public Schools “IB AP Week” Campaign

Gold - Priority Health, “Champions” Campaign


Content Marketing

Silver - Spectrum Health, Health Beat

Silver - Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Meijer Gardens Corpse Flower Bloom

Gold - Priority Health, “Reasons” Member Stories Campaign


Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns

Silver - Grand Rapids Community College, “Raising Awareness of New Laptop Vending Machines” campaign

Gold - SeyferthPR, Sawyer Products/Sawyer International campaign


Crisis Communications

Gold - Sabo PR for PFAS Contamination in Plainfield Township campaign


Events and Observances (more than 7 days)

Silver - Sabo PR for its Legacy Trust Award Collection campaign

Silver - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Sartori ArtPrize campaign

Gold - GVPRSSA’s Grand PR for its Sawyers Day campaign

Gold - SeyferthPR for its West Michigan Prostate Health Alliance Launch campaign

Gold - Lambert for its JSJ 100th Anniversary campaign

Gold - GVPRSSA’s Grand PR for its Timeless Ten campaign


Events and Observances (fewer than 7 days)

Silver - Sabo PR for its Greater Wyoming Community Resource Alliance 10th Anniversary Breakfast

Gold - BISSELL Pet Foundation for its BISSELL Blocktail Party

Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Tarana Burke event


Influencer Marketing - Macro-influencers (10,000 to 1 million followers)

Silver - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Cirrus North America Launch

Gold - Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for its Women Writers Weekend


Influencer Marketing - Micro-Influencer campaigns (500 to 10,000 followers)

Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Woodhouse Day Spa Influencer campaign


Integrated Communications

Silver - Spectrum Health for its 2018 President & CEO Announcement

Silver - Mel Trotter Ministries for its “There's More to My Story” campaign

Gold - Sabo PR for its FloraCraft CEO Gift


Internal Communications

Silver - Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for its “With a Mary Heart” Employee Giving campaign

Gold - Spectrum Health for its “The Next Us” - Wave 2”of Spectrum Health’s Nexus Journey campaign


Marketing Campaign

Silver - Priority Health for its Small Group satisFACTion campaign

Gold - Priority Health for its Digital Member Onboarding 1.0


Most Effective Campaign on a Shoestring Budget

Silver - BISSELL Pet Foundation for its BISSELL Pet Foundation's #GivingTuesday Campaign

Gold - Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation for its #VoteForMiracles campaign


Public Affairs

Gold - Truscott Rossman for its Lucerne Steel Tariffs campaign


Public Service

Silver - Grand Rapids Community Foundation for its “Unlocking OUR Potential: 2017-2018 Annual Report”

Silver - SeyferthPR for its Sawyer Products/Sawyer International campaign

Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its ACLU LGBT Aging Initiative


Reputation / Brand Management

Gold - Grand Rapids Community College for its Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Murals campaign

Gold - Lambert & Co for its Bethany Christian Services / Zero Tolerance communications support



Media Relations

Silver - Sabo PR for the Woodland Mall Redevelopment

Gold - Zondervan Publishing for “Kind is the New Classy”

Gold - Priority Health for “Wellbeing Makes Headlines”


Feature Articles

Silver - SeyferthPR for its “Sister Larraine Lauter Water with Blessings” article

Gold - Sabo PR for its Grand Rapids Press features on Emmanuel Hospice


Editorial/Op Ed

Gold - SeyferthPR for its John Kennedy Op-Ed


Press Conference

Silver - Spectrum Health for its President and CEO announcement

Gold - Blue Blaze PR for its Manistee Historic Sites Tour Launch with Toni Trucks


Media/Press Kit

Gold - Spectrum Health for its President and CEO announcement media kit


Public Service Announcement

Silver - Sabo PR for its “Mission Read” PSA

Gold - SeyferthPR for its “Just Talk to Me” PSA



Gold - GVSU PRSSA “Empowering Students” the PR Hangover Podcast



Silver - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its website redesign

Gold - Spectrum Health for the Spectrum Health Beat website


Social Media

Silver - The Right Place Inc, for West Michigan Life Instagram

Gold - Priority Health for Wellbeing 2018



Gold - Experience Grand Rapids for its Beer City Brewsader App


Internal Video

Silver - SeyferthPR for Talent 2025 Early Childhood Literacy

Gold - Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences for its 2018 College of Arts and Sciences Giving day video


External Video

Silver - SeyferthPR for its “Archways to Opportunity: High School Graduation” video

Gold - Rick Chambers & Associates for “Journeys United: Visually Telling Personal Stories of Impact” video



Silver - SeyferthPR for Bang the Gong - “Waking Up” bedding trade show media

Gold - Priority Health for its Cost Estimator Employer Toolkit



Silver - Council of Michigan Foundations for its “Weekly Download” newsletter

Silver - Spectrum Health for its Spectrum Health Beat newsletter

Gold - Priority Health for its Employee Insider Newsletter 2018



Silver - SeyferthPR for I-CAR's "Collision Reporter"

Gold - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its “FAITH Grand Rapids” magazine

Gold - Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for its “Seasons” magazine


Special-Purpose Publication

Silver - Rick Chambers & Associates for “Our Impact: Sharing the Measure of Transformed Lives”

Silver - Priority Health for “Understanding Health Savings Accounts”

Gold - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its Diocesan Annual Report


Advertorials (Native Advertising)

Gold - SeyferthPR for its McDonald’s Helps to Lead Detroit’s Neighborhood Rebirth


Program Sponsors for the 2019 PRoof Awards were Spectrum Health and Priority Health; Table Sponsors were 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications, Lambert, Sabo PR and SeyferthPR and the Refreshments Sponsor was Truscott Rossman.  

The Public Relations Society of America West Michigan (WMPRSA) Chapter (http://wmprsa.org/) is comprised of more than 130 PRSA members located within the western half of the lower peninsula of Michigan, from Benton Harbor to Traverse City. WMPRSA hosts educational programs and special events for public relations practitioners, including the annual PRoof Awards. For more about PRoof visit: http://wmprsa.org/proof

A Decade of PR

by Allison Canter and Brooklyn Wilson

GVSU’s student-run public relations firm, GrandPR, celebrated their first decade as a nationally-affiliated firm this past March. Not only are they one of the only nationally-affiliated student-run firms in the country, but they are award-winning for their work.

To celebrate this achievement, GrandPR hosted an event called Timeless Ten at the Grand Rapids-based PR firm, 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications, on March 29. This event not only celebrated the current members of GrandPR and their achievements, but staff members from previous years were also invited to join in the commemoration. Additionally, students and faculty from Grand Valley’s advertising and public relations program, as well as many PR professionals from around the Midwest, attended to make for a wonderful night of networking.

The night began with a cocktail hour of networking and reuniting with old friends while grazing on delicious food catered by Kangaroo Kitchen. The stuffed mushrooms were a hit. Opening remarks were given by Sabrina Antcliff, CEO of GrandPR, followed by speeches from professors and distinguished graduates that played a crucial role in the growth of GrandPR. Retired professor Frank Blossom and retiring professor Peggy Howard were also recognized for their invaluable contribution to the firm and program as a whole.

To properly honor the contributions that Frank Blossom made to the program during his 10 years there, a formal announcement of the “Frank Fund” was delivered at the event. This fund serves to aid students via scholarships and will be given out to students who show dedication in advancing in their careers and professional development. If you’d like to donate to this fund, visit the GVSU giving page.

During Timeless Ten, winners of the annual Superior Awards were also honored, named after the School of Communications building “Lake Superior Hall,” basically a second home to nearly every advertising and PR student. These winners were chosen based on extraordinary class work that exceeded professors’ expectations. 

Among these winners were the firm’s own associates, Teagan Epley, Emily Gagnon and Allyssa Murphy, who received third place in the nationally competitive Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition. Their case study elaborated on the sexual harassment allegations made against Google, which inevitably triggered a walkout that was participated in by over 20,000 Google employees in November of 2018.

Leading up to this event, GrandPR participated in ten firm-wide acts of service throughout the winter semester as a thank-you for the continuous support they have received from the community over the past 10 years. These acts include:

  1. Donating and  making a meal for HQ Grand Rapids

  2. Assembling  sack suppers with Kid’s Food Basket

  3. The Humane Society’s Paws, Claws, and Corks

  4. Curating an  archive with GROW

  5. Decorating for Samaritas Senior Living’s   Valentine’s Day event

  6. Collecting  and repackaging feminine hygiene products for Be A Rose

  7. Aiding in  strategy for Grand Valley’s throwback, faux back event Sawyer Day

  8. Participating  in GVSU’s Community  Outreach Week

  9. Writing visitor blogs

  10. Creating five full campaigns for Grand Rapids non-profit organizations in less than 24 hours during CreateAthon

 These ten acts of service created a sense of community for the firm, but also gave the firm a legitimate place in the community. They displayed the sincere sense of gratitude that GrandPR has for the community that has invested in it for 10 years now. In fact, many of the service acts that they hosted exceeded the goals of the firm. For instance, the goal for the Be A Rose campaign was to raise $250 to collect 1,000 feminine hygiene products, and by the end the firm has raised over $550. In just a few months, GrandPR was able to make a great impact on the greater Grand Rapids area through these 10 acts of service that celebrated their decade as a firm.

 It was a night of celebration, recognition and anticipation for the future of GrandPR. A special thank you to Adrienne Wallace, Derek DeVries, Tim Penning, Frank Blossom, Peggy Howard and all past and current staff members who have made GrandPR what it is today. We look forward to the growth and success of the firm in the years to come.