The San Diego County Office of Education received the PR Team of the Year award.

The San Diego office of NV5, an engineering and surveying firm, was the top winner with 10 awards at the 2021 Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence Awards presented by the Public Relations Society of America San Diego-Imperial Counties Chapter.

PRSA said other top winners, each with five awards apiece, included the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3, and the University of California San Diego.

PSAR said 53 awards, including 17 for overall campaigns and two for tactics, were presented Nov. 18 to 20 different San Diego public relations firms and communications organizations. Award categories included community relations, integrated communications, issues management, public affairs, media relations and research and evaluation. The theme for the 2021 awards program was “Bolder, Brighter, Better.”

Two entries were awarded Best of Show, recognizing the highest scores among Silver and Bronze award recipients. The Silver Best of Show award went to PR firm Nuffer, Smith, Tucker for the “Don’t Move Citrus” campaign on behalf of the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program that was entered in the integrated communications category. The Bronze Best of Show award went to the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3, for a social media digital media program that addressed adverse childhood experiences in San Diego County.

Five special awards were presented with two of them relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, said PRSA. They included: Maren Dougherty, San Diego Convention Center Corporation, with the Deborah Baker PR Professional of the Year award for communications efforts when the center housed homeless San Diegans during the first year of the pandemic followed by hosting more than 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children; and the San Diego County Office of Education, PR Team of the Year award.

A PSAR spokesperson told Times of San Diego the county education team was involved in COVID-19-related communications efforts with a robust effort to educate and inform school leaders and staff, the community, and its internal audience of employees, on challenging new rules and processes. By July 2020, the team implemented a flexible communications strategy focused on COVID-19 mitigation and response protocols to help schools operate safely and inform families and the public what to expect. The team was challenged to work within changing public health and school operations guidance, communicate changes, share resources and assess feedback throughout the process.

“We are honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Music Watson, chief of staff of the county office, said to Times of San Diego. “Schools have become a battleground for many of the culture wars happening in our county. School communications professionals are on the front lines of these battles every day working to build and, in some cases restore, trust. The SDCOE communications team has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to share timely, accurate information with, and gather feedback from, students, families, and educators.”

Other special awards were presented to: Jeanna Vazquez, UC San Diego Health, Eva Irving Community Service Award, for her work with the Surfrider Foundation; Scott McGaugh, Otto Boss Hall of Fame Award; and Hugo, Katz & Associates, New Professional of the Year.

A new special award was presented to Carin Canale-Theakston, CEO, Canale Communications, as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion PR Professional of the Year. The award recognizes a public relations professional who used their platforms to call attention to issues affecting diverse communities, supported inclusive narratives, and made contributions to initiate change within the PR and communication industry.

A complete list of winners is available at

“Through all of the challenges we have collectively faced over the past couple of years, the value that communications professionals provide their organizations, their clients and whomever else they serve has become undeniable,” said Hope Reilly, PRSA-SDIC board president. “But even, or perhaps especially, in this so-called new normal, our members have so much great work to recognize and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to gather and do so in person this year.”

The awards are named after Edward L. Bernays, who launched the field of public relations in the 1920s. Often called the “father of public relations,” Bernays’ history-making campaigns explain why people eat bacon with eggs, women smoke cigarettes and bank managers join civic groups. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. Bernays died in 1995 at age 103.

iHeart San Diego Raises $1.45 Million for Warrior Foundation

iHeartMedia San Diego announced its recent “Give-a-Thon” on radio station KGB 760-AM helped raise $1,455,471 for the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station, a nonprofit that serves injured military service members with transitional housing and covers airfare expenses to reunite families during the holiday season.

A statement from iHeart said Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, co-hosts of “Armstrong & Getty,” the station’s syndicated morning show on KGB-AM, was the driving force behind the Give-a-Thon with their week-long promotion of the fundraiser.

In addition to KGB-AM, fellow iHeart station KOGO-AM News Radio 600 also participated in the fundraiser.

“We are forever grateful to our wonderful media partners and donors for giving back to our nation’s service members during this special time of year,” said Sandy Lehmkuhler, CEO and founder, Warrior Foundation Freedom Station.  “By shining a spotlight on our warriors, and their brave struggles with the visible and invisible wounds of war, they rallied the support of thousands of people to fly our heroes home for the holidays. It’s a gift our troops will remember forever.”

“We are honored at 760-AM, News Radio 600 KOGO and our entire iHeartMedia San Diego team to have participated in the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station Give-A-Thon, which supports our deserving military men and women,” said Melissa Forrest, president and market manager, iHeartMedia San Diego. “It is amazing to see this level of generosity. This is a true testament to our San Diego listeners and the power and reach of Armstrong & Getty. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Give-A-Thon a huge success.”

iHeartMedia San Diego, part of iHeart Media, Inc. (Nasdaq: IHRT), operates eight radio stations in San Diego, including KGB-AM, KOGO-AM, KGB-FM, KHTS-FM, KIOZ-FM, KLSD-AM, KMYI-FM and KSSX-FM.

Former Rubio’s Marketer Promoted to CMO at Qboda

San Diego-based Qboda, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain previously operated by Jack in the Box, has promoted Karin Silk to chief marketing officer.

Silk succeeds Jeannie Cho, a former PepsiCo marketing exec who was named Qboda’s CMO in October 2020. Cho is no longer with Qboda, according to an online profile.

Since joining Qdoba in 2018 as VP of menu and off premises, the company said Silk has guided several strategic platforms, including the launch of Qboda’s line of chef-crafter Signature Eats and menu collaborations with Impossible Foods and Cholula, as well as an expanded Flavor Bar featuring a collection of salsas, sauces and toppings.

Karen Silk

As CMO, a statement said Silk will oversee Qboda’s strategic marketing and digital initiatives in addition to leading the menu and off-premises sectors of the business, which includes culinary strategy, third-party delivery partnerships and catering.

Prior to joining Qboda, Silk served as senior VP of marketing for Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc. She also spent seven years with PepsiCo-Quaker Foods. She began her career with Deloitte Consulting after earning her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

“Without a doubt, the innovative programs Karin spearheaded during her time with Qdoba made this well-deserved promotion an easy decision,” said Keith Guilbault, CEO of Qdoba. “We’re pleased to elevate her role on the senior leadership team as we continue to expand the Qdoba brand and distinguish it as one of the most popular fast-casual restaurants in North America.”

“Working for and with Qdoba is one of the highlights of my career,” said Silk. “I’m excited for this next chapter, including an opportunity to work with an exceptional group of franchisees who live and breathe our mission of bringing flavor to hungry people across the U.S. and Canada. We’ve got some great programs on tap for 2022 that will be announced very soon.”

Qboda operates 740 locations in the U.S. and Canada, but its only San Diego-area outlet is a concession venue at the San Diego airport. Qboda was named best fast-casual restaurant in 2019, 2020 and 2021 by USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Qboda headquarters are in Mission Valley at Ampersand, an office building formerly occupied by The San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2018, Jack in the Box, which operated Qboda for 15 years, sold its interest in the chain to Apollo Global Management Group for a reported $305 million.

Project Clean Water Video Wins Gold MarCom Award

The San Diego office of MIG, a multi-disciplinary urban planning, design engineering, landscape architecture and communications management firm, has announced a gold award was presented for its video at the recent MarCom Awards, an international creative competition that recognizes achievement in marketing and communications.

In April 2021, MIG said production work was completed on “52 Ways to Love Your Water,” a 3:42 video narrated by musician Gill Sotu that encourages viewers to reduce runoff and storm water pollution.

MIG said its video, seen online, on social media and at movie theaters, was created and produced for Project Clean Water, a taxpayer-supported, county-wide initiative dedicated to protecting water quality. An MIG spokesperson told Times of San Diego the budget for the video was $14,000.

The Project Clean Water initiative, a five-year education and outreach campaign, is coordinated through 21 government agencies, the County of San Diego, Port of San Diego, San Diego International Airport and 18 incorporated cities in the county.

The 2021 MarCOM Awards competition drew 6,000 entries from 41 countries.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

Show comments