PR industry names PRoof award winners


Mary Ann Sabo. Courtesy WMPRSA

The region’s public relations industry has honored the best in PR at its annual PRoof Awards.

The West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, or WMPRSA, hosted its PRoof Awards, now in its 30th year, earlier this month to celebrate PR professionals, agencies and corporate communications teams.

The WMPRSA board selects the winners.

More than 160 West Michigan PR professionals attended the award ceremony, which was held in Grand Rapids at Studio D2D.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Suzanne Geha received the Lifetime Achievement Award for “the mark she’s made in West Michigan.”

Geha worked first as the female reporter on the air at WKNR AM Keener Radio and WKFR FM in Battle Creek and then as the first West Michigan female anchor at WOOD TV 8 in Grand Rapids.

As a native of Detroit, Geha also spent time as an anchor and reporter for WXYZ TV.

During her 30-plus year career, she’s been recognized numerous times for her work: an Emmy; Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; Michigan Women’s Foundation Achievement and Courage Award; and she’s been inducted into the WMU Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Academy.

This was the first year that a Lifetime Achievement Award was given.

PR Pro of the Year

Mary Ann Sabo, owner of Sabo Public Relations, was named PR Professional of the Year.

Sabo left a more than 10-year career in journalism for PR, eventually forming her firm 12 years ago, which has thrived in West Michigan.

Throughout her career, the association said Sabo has cultivated “strong and lasting relationships built on trust and mutual respect with reporters, business leaders, nonprofits and other community entities.”

Her “analytical and quick thinking skills” have allowed her to help her clients adapt to the changing media landscape and disseminate information through targeted channels.

The association said her “dedication to her craft and the profession is unparalleled.”

Communicator of the Year

Nick Ceglarek, superintendent of Hudsonville Public Schools, was named Communicator of the Year.

Ceglarek led the charge at Hudsonville Public Schools to find solutions to the district’s dwindling space, which included building a new ninth- and 10th-grade building at the high school and a modern athletic center and fine arts center. A very old elementary school was also torn down and a new one was built.

Through community outreach efforts, Ceglarek helped create “a positive, open environment” to support the changes that were occurring in the district.

Ceglarek is credited with creating “an incredibly positive environment within the schools for staff, which translates to the students.”

Newcomer of the Year

Austin Langlois, a member of the Amway global public relations team, was named Newcomer of the Year.

Langlois started at Amway as an intern in 2013 and was hired following his graduation from GVSU in 2014.

As an Amway intern, he helped create influencer strategies, promote local community events and engage media.

Today, he demonstrates skills across PR functions, through media relations, social media and executive and corporate communications.

Student of the Year

Daltyn Little, who graduated from GVSU in April, was named Student of the Year.

Little has been a member of the GVSU PRSSA for two years.

She also served as an account associate, account executive and CEO for GrandPR, the student-run PR firm on GVSU’s campus.

She has shown “strong leadership and management” in all of the positions.

Under her leadership in the past year, GrandPR has achieved its second national affiliation recognition through PRSSA, distinguishing GrandPR as one of less than 50 nationally affiliated student-run firms in the nation.

Little also participated in PRWeek’s annual student challenge, which she won, earning the title of PRWeek’s 2015 Student of the Year.

Little is a PR associate at 834 Design & Marketing in Grand Rapids, where she works with a variety of clients.

Little is “concise, inquisitive and adds a level of professionalism to any project she touches,” according to her WMPRSA nomination form.

Media Person of the Year

Shandra Martinez, reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive, was named Media Person of the Year.

Martinez has been writing for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive for several years.

According to her nomination, “Martinez gets the story and gets it right. If she can’t take a story, she’ll point you in the right direction to someone more fitting.”

Campaign winners

Informtaion on additional winners is available at the WMPRSA blog.

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