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PRSA Silver Stars 2020 (sponsored)


2020 Project Recognition

2020 did not go to plan. Unprecedented circumstances and unexpected developments throughout the year challenged Public Relations professionals everywhere. Businesses closed and events were cancelled, including PRSA Sierra Nevada Chapter’s annual Silver Spikes Awards. While many planned projects disappeared in an instant, some unanticipated or adjusted campaigns emerged in their place. We did not want to let the year pass by without celebrating and recognizing the resourceful and creative work that our members did in 2020. The following are samples of work done by professionals in Northern Nevada this year. We recognize them as 2020’s Silver Stars! Keep an eye out for more on these projects and others at the rescheduled Silver Spike awards coming in April 2021.

Campaign: Mask On Move On

Lizbeth Alvarez, KPS3

KPS3’s Lizbeth Alvarez worked with the Regional Information center to bring the Mask On. Move On. message to the Latinx community. She worked with Spanish language radio station Juan 101.7 to do on-air interviews about the impacts of COVID-19 and the importance of wearing masks. Lizbeth produced all social media content and extended outreach efforts to Latinx businesses. She pitched and landed multiple news stories for outlets such as The Nevada Independent and El Sol de Nevada. She has worked with Latinx influencers on social media to help create awareness of the campaign and promoted the hashtags: #maskonmoveon and #FollowAdelanteNV. Less than two years after graduating and embarking on her career as a PR professional, Lizbeth is not just coordinating efforts, but taking on the responsibility of leading efforts for the Regional Information Center (RIC), a at a time when pressure to create more awareness and education is greater than ever before.

Campaign: Mail It In, Nevada

Jancy Ulch, KPS3

In order to protect the health and safety of Nevadans and slow the spread of COVID-19, the Nevada Secretary of State partnered with 17 Nevada counties and moved to conduct a mail-in vote for June’s primary election. The goal of the Mail It In, Nevada campaign was to create awareness of the mail-in election and educate Nevadans on how to cast their vote by mail. Jancy Ulch did a terrific and tireless job of managing the Nevada Secretary of State’s social media during the primary election mail-in campaign. She put on her “battle gear” daily to monitor and respond to comments and inquiries to inform and educate our community about the mail-in election. When President Trump tweeted about Nevada, she managed all of the social media activity as a result of it like a champ. Additionally, KPS3 led and managed the 27 user-generated influencer videos during the campaign to showcase community leader’s support for mail-in voting. This list included city mayors, former governors, and many large businesses. With nearly 150 stories based on KPS3’s proactive media campaign efforts, the campaign and mentions of the primary election reached 11.1 billion unique visitors per month with a total of $20.5 million in publicity value.

Campaign: Mask on. Move on.

Sara Robbins, KPS3

The Mask On. Move On. campaign is a public awareness and education campaign by the Washoe County Regional Information Center. Sara led Public Relations, social media and outreach for the public health education and awareness initiative for Washoe County, City of Reno and City of Sparks. Sara successfully engaged media outlets to generate localized coverage about people in our community. She created partnerships with key people and organizations and led a user-generated program for social media.

Campaign: Delivering with Dignity Reno-Sparks

The Abbi Agency, United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra (UWNNS), The Office of Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall

Delivering with Dignity Reno-Sparks is a public service program where “Food Heroes” volunteer to deliver high-quality meals from locally-owned restaurants directly to vulnerable families in the Reno-Sparks area. Establishing its roots in Southern Nevada and spearheaded by Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick along with local community organizations, Delivering with Dignity expanded to Reno-Sparks to help those in need starting in early May. The Abbi Agency helped drive awareness, donations and volunteer recruitment through media relations, social media and email marketing. Delivering with Dignity Reno-Sparks is supported by Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall, UWNNS and local community and restaurant partners including Liberty Food & Wine Exchange and Blend Catering. On behalf of the program, The Abbi Agency achieved the following milestones during the months of May, June, July and August: 21 local media placements from print, TV, radio and online outlets; 15 community newsletters sent to program donors, volunteers and supporters; More than 500 followers collectively on the program’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Delivering with Dignity’s services are intended for Nevada residents who identify as low-income and who are most at risk if they leave their homes, according to the U.S. Center for Control and Prevention guidelines for contracting COVID-19. These groups of people include the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions and family members living in the same household. More information can be found at DeliveringWithDignityRenoSparks.org.

Campaign: #LocalFoodLove Challenge

Q&D Construction and The Abbi Agency

At the beginning of the pandemic response, local restaurants across Northern Nevada rapidly shut their doors to dine-in guests and braced for the financial consequences of losing a significant majority of their customer base. Q&D Construction, a locally owned and operated construction company, and The Abbi Agency saw an opportunity to help local restaurants through these tough economic times, and the two companies teamed up to create the #LocalFoodLove Challenge. Through this challenge, Q&D Construction ordered meals via take-out or curbside pickup for its staff from a locally-owned restaurant once a week and urged other essential businesses to do the same during the COVID-19 shutdown. All businesses that participate in supporting local restaurants through this challenge were encouraged to highlight their efforts by using the hashtag #LocalFoodLove, to create a ripple effect of businesses championing the effort to help keep local restaurants afloat. The team behind this challenge saw an obligation to the community to ensure that it continues to thrive even in times of crisis. The Abbi Agency was tasked with a goal of bringing community awareness and driving business participation to this supportive endeavor. The agency did so by writing engaging press content detailing the “why” and “how” behind the #LocalFoodLove Challenge to garner media coverage from local print, online, radio and television news media. The #LocalFoodLove Challenge saw nearly 30 businesses support more than 45 local restaurants, and Q&D proudly shared these businesses’ support and successes on their social media accounts.

Campaign: Paint Nevada Pink

Estipona Group & Nevada Cancer Coalition

The goal of Paint Nevada Pink for client Nevada Cancer Coalition (NCC) is to encourage Nevadans to pledge to schedule their mammograms. COVID protocols meant tossing out the original playbook of events from 2019, the first year of the campaign, and getting creative. While October is always the month for focusing on breast cancer awareness, things were a bit different this year. Due to social distancing guidelines, there was no Komen Race for the Cure or other traditionally pink-hued events. NCC was also not able to replicate last year’s community gathering downtown when they turned the Reno Arch pink. Solution – invite the entire state to participate separately, but together. This year locations across the state turned pink including the Las Vegas Welcome Sign, the pool at the Sparks Community Center, the Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, Circus Circus, Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Renown Health’s LOVE sign and the Whitney Peak climbing wall. Estipona engaged the support of political figures including Nevada First Lady Kathy Sisolak, Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and more. Northern Nevadans pinked up their homes through special pink light bulbs that could be purchased for $25 from Moana Nursery, with that money going to help uninsured and underinsured women. Pets even got into the fun through the #PinkPets initiative, where they could sport their salmon sunglasses, coral collars or rosy ribbons. Watch the video of Nevada going pink below.

Campaign: Midtown Bingo

The Abbi Agency, Tolles Development, Midtown District Reno

The Abbi Agency was hired by Tolles Development Company to create and launch a community bingo game on Instagram in support of local restaurants and businesses in Midtown. This was a fun way to let customers know what small businesses were still open amid construction and COVID-19 restrictions. The winner of Midtown Bingo became the proud owner of the infamous “Virgina St.” sign that was misprinted late last year, and kindly donated by Councilmember Neoma Jardon. Participants were given the opportunity to order take-out/to go items or support a Midtown District business by following directions on the bingo squares, then documenting their progress on Instagram. Squares include directions like “pretended I was having brunch at:” and “Shared an online gift card with a friend from:” allowing users to tag the Midtown businesses they are supporting. Users were directed to www.renomidtowndistrict.com to see a list of participating businesses. Those who completed five in a row received a bingo and were entered into a drawing to win the infamous street sign. Results: 19,007 estimated reach from stories and posts, 22 contest participants, 10 local media placements from print, TV, radio and online outlets.

Campaign: COVID-19 Regional Information Center Online Communication

Reno, Sparks, Washoe Regional Information Center

COVID-19 hit the region as a whole, and the region’s response had to be collective, cohesive, and not competitive between jurisdictions. The public needed cooperation of jurisdictions to make information cohesive. To achieve that goal, the City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County, and Washoe County Health District launched the Regional Information Center, a collective response to communicate about COVID in the community. A website was launched, www.covid19washoe.com with complementary social media accounts. Messaging was agreed upon by all members of the RIC and communicated from a single source. This streamlined communications and ensured that residents received the same information regardless of which jurisdiction they live in. This is perhaps an unprecedented level of cooperation between cities and county.

Campaign: Historic Virginia City Bank Saloon Grand Reopening

Argentum Partners

Bank Saloon, formerly known as Jack’s Bar, was purchased by the Nevada Builders Alliance in 2017 with the intent to restore and reinvigorate the 120 plus year old drinking establishment. Throughout the renovation process, the Argentum team provided updates to the media and community on the status of the building in preparation for the grand opening on Nevada Day in October. Due to capacity restrictions and mandated business closures implemented by the State, Argentum was unexpectedly faced with promoting the Bank Saloon grand opening during the pandemic. Starting with a social media campaign that showcased key moments in the establishment’s history, from one of the first ads placed, to hold-ups and prohibition, and all the evolution in-between, the social media campaign focused on all the transitions Bank Saloon had seen over the years. This curated introduction to the historic building and some highlights of the once familiar Jack’s Bar, propelled local customer interest and excitement for opening day. We used the social media campaign with previously acquired media coverage to further build anticipation for the grand opening and began preparing for the actual event. Initially, Bank Saloon held a soft opening, with a grand opening planned for later in the year pending looser COVID-19 restrictions. In coordination with the soft-opening, the team organized a media event with all local media outlets attending and a one-on-one interview with the food and drink editor for the Reno Gazette Journal. These efforts were successful in securing media exposure with all local television and print publications as well as several radio interviews and an onslaught of social media engagements. The bar’s soft opening weekend was a huge success and the establishment has already become a staple in the town.

Campaign: Washoe County Election/Voter Information

Washoe County Communications Division

Leading up to and during the 2020 General Election, Washoe County faced the unprecedented challenge of communicating where and how to register to vote during a pandemic, and how to vote during a pandemic. The team also faced public distrust in the process. Due to pandemic restrictions, press conferences were not feasible, but it was important to answer the media’s questions as frequently and openly as possible, so the team launched a weekly video media availability with our Registrar of Voters. The team also gathered feedback from the county’s information call center, Washoe 311, to find out what the public was most concerned about during the election, these concerns were then address with Facebook live and recorded videos. The team also launched a livestream video from inside the elections office, a practice that the county had actually started in the 2018 Primary Election but found even more essential in this General Election. The team communicated to the media and the public about the availability of the video, and the stream was picked up by national media outlets. The highest viewership in a day reached 16,000 views. It was widely referred to as the epitome of local-government transparency during the election.

Campaign: V&T Railway Railbike Launch

Argentum Partners

V&T Railroad moved ahead with a new Railbike attraction following the closure of its regular season and special event train rides due to COVID restrictions. The family-friendly Railbikes allowed V&T to operate under the mandated restrictions and provide a safe experience for all customers. With these new railbikes in place, V&T partnered with the team at Visit Carson City to launch the new attraction in northern Nevada. From there, V&T introduced multiple ride times throughout the week and added special event railbike rides to the itinerary such as short rides, Labor Day rides and Halloween spooky railbike rides. Argentum was tasked with managing V&T’s website and social media platforms while promoting the transition from trains to railbikes. To highlight the new railbike attractions, Argentum’s digital put together eblasts to share new events and drive ticket sales. Argentum also crafted ads promoting the new Railbike rides and distributed multiple press releases for upcoming events or schedule changes. The outreach and PR efforts, in partnership with Visit Carson City, helped establish V&T’s Railbikes as a premier event in Northern Nevada, driving ticket sales and allowing the organization to continue operating during the pandemic.

Campaign: Signature Dishes to Make at Home

Argentum Partners

Argentum and the Reno Gazette-Journal partnered with local restaurants to help highlight their businesses with dishes and drinks that could be made and enjoyed at home after dine-in options were shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the State. This campaign was implemented as an effort to keep local restaurants top of mind and provide an interactive experience with the community, encouraging residents to shop and support local business. Coordinating video productions and gathering recipes from these restaurants, Argentum provided the elements to the RGJ for the feature to run and be shared on social media targeting the Northern Nevada community. Videos were limited to two minutes in length and featured the restaurant’s owner creating and narrating the dish, detailing the ingredients needed and the creation process. While the campaign brought attention to these restaurant’s particular featured dishes, it also brought attention to the take-out and delivery options available, and the restaurant as a whole. Partnering with the food and drink editor at the RGJ provided the participating restaurants with local notoriety, drove business to each restaurant and created content for the restaurants to share on their own platforms.

Campaign: Free Dental Care for At-Risk Youth

Argentum Partners

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, LIBERTY Dental needed a way to quickly provide services and resources to the community amidst office and school closures. The Argentum team jumped in to work with community partners in Clark and Washoe Counties to distribute over 5,000 child and adult dental kits. Following this initial activation, Argentum continued work to create a more concrete brand awareness campaign amidst the pandemic focusing on community outreach efforts. They promoted a series of free drive-thru dental clinics for LIBERTY which provided free dental checks, food distribution, flu shots, community resources and more. The events were attended by over 400 families in Washoe County and received coverage from all television stations during the event. Additionally, Argentum coordinated several partnerships for LIBERTY throughout Southern Nevada with non-profits and community partners to provide dental kits, resources and education. Our team also helped construct, launch and promote a tele dentistry program which helped redirect patients from area emergency rooms to virtual dentists, alleviating demand on hospitals to create room for COVID patients. Further into the campaign, the team coordinated a webinar with other dental professionals to discuss the impact of dental health on overall health and promoted LIBERTY’s partnership with UNLV School of Dental Medicine on a new, preventative dental clinic for children. These different initiatives, all part of the overall brand awareness campaign for LIBERTY Dental Plan, secured coverage in media outlets statewide and helped increase Medicaid utilization. Our team has used the momentum from these efforts to launch a final portion of this campaign to promote the newly announced Nevada Action Network, a virtual dental check-up and at-home fluoride varnish kit, and an overall brand awareness message through a targeted and comprehensive paid media campaign. This final leg is meant to further drive benefit utilization and brand awareness while also providing alternate ways to secure dental services at home.

Campaign: The Depot Hand Sanitizer

Argentum Partners

During the mandated state shutdown, The Depot switched from distilling spirits to creating hand sanitizer to distribute to the community. The Depot partnered with Renown Health and Silver Peak Brewery to help create, package and distribute the hand sanitizer and worked with Seven Troughs Distillery to provide bulk ethanol to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the same purpose. In order to distribute this to the community, The Depot held a recurring dock sale at their restaurant and distillery for members of the community to purchase their products and receive one free two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer with every purchase. To help drive community attendance and assist The Depot in distributing hand sanitizer throughout Northern Nevada, Argentum drafted press releases and media advisories about the events while also assisting The Depot’s social media team with their messaging for the events. Argentum’s efforts drove coverage of The Depot by all major northern Nevada media outlets in addition to coverage in several national outlets such as Wine Enthusiast and The New York Times. The Depot also sold out of hand sanitizer at every dock sale and was able to move large amounts of product to help stabilize the business during the shutdown.

Campaign: Plumas Bank Paycheck Protection Program Support for Local Business

Plumas Bank marketing, The Abbi Agency and Noble Studios

Early in the pandemic as small businesses struggled to survive shutdowns, community banks stepped up to implement the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Providing nearly 2.8 million loans and saving an estimated 33.7 million jobs, community banks received national attention for their ability to act quickly and help small businesses as bigger banking institutions either struggled with implementation or focused on relief for larger companies. Plumas Bank launched a multimedia campaign to put a local face on the national news: Community banks, like Plumas Bank, are doing all they can to support local business owners and our mission is to help the local communities who rely on us in good times and challenging times. Existing Plumas Bank clients and team members were featured in all campaign elements including digital, print, billboard, broadcast, radio, and social. Our agency partners for this campaign included The Abbi Agency and Noble Studios. Over the course of three months, we increased the visibility of Plumas Bank’s services, expertise and community support in the Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe region. We highlighted local businesses who value relationship banking and reached out to small businesses who felt left behind by their larger banking institutions.

Campaign: East Fork Professional Firefighters Association – Firefighter Stairclimb

In Plain Sight Marketing – Renee Plain, Account Executive, Kristen Furleigh, Account Manager

East Fork Professional Firefighters Association, Local 3726, tasked In Plain Sight with increasing fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Firefighter Stairclimb. Over eight years, they had raised just over $50,000. In Plain Sight set a goal of raising $25,000 this year and to get them to $75,000 in total donations over 9 years. The agency worked with the EFPF LLS Stairclimb team to create multiple fundraising events (five total), images, training videos, and donation request videos tied to their motivation for use on social media, as well as press releases sent to regional newspapers and news stations. The events were published several times in the local newspapers (3), and the client was contacted for a live interview by KOLO 8, as well as a live interview at their main Project Stairmaster event, and a follow up interview after they met their goal.

Not only did our client exceed their goal by over $6,000, they also were in the top 8 fundraisers in the Nation for this particular fundraiser. They had incredible support from the community as all of their events were packed with people from the community, including a 12 hour Stairclimb event at a local business, as well as participation from the local Sheriff’s department.

Campaign: Feeding Pets of the Homeless – A Community Thrives

In Plain Sight Media – Renee Plain, Account Executive, Kristen Furleigh, Account Manager, Amanda Long, Digital Engagement Manager, Elizabeth Pearson, Public Relations and Account Specialist, Kathie Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer, Pierce Baker, Creative Specialist

The In Plain Sight team was tasked with creating a campaign in just 10 days for a national fundraiser “A Community Thrives” for USA Today Network and the Gannett Foundation between September 21 and October 16, 2020. The client, Feeding Pets of the Homeless, was in a tier with 368 other participants across the county. The campaign utilized email (21 emails sent, broken into segments by relationship with the organization: donors, board members, and partner organizations), posts and advertisements on social media, press releases, and segmented story pitches. Despite the short timeline, the client was able to place 6th in their tier. The campaign brought in over $37,000 in donations and earned the client $4,200 in the form of a local Gannett grant.

Campaign: Visit Virginia City

RISE Video, RAD Strategies

Virginia City was just starting with one of its premier events when the pandemic shut Nevada and the country down. At the time, everyone was still hopeful that things would quickly pass. However, as it became clear it was going to continue, the Virginia City Tourism Commission wanted to relay to visitors and the local community that they will not waver from their mission, although it may be a bit delayed.

RAD Strategies wrote and produced the “Rise” video to reassure and remind visitors and the local community of the tourism authority’s commitment to the area’s economic vitality, especially those hit so hard during the pandemic. Watch the short video here: https://visitvirginiacitynv.com/rise-again-video/

Campaign: Visit Carson Valley Virtual FAM Tour Series

RAD Strategies

When the pandemic restrictions were rolled out, tourism was one of the hardest hit sectors. At the time, RAD Strategies was in the middle of coordinating several media visits to the Carson Valley area as well as ramping up for the summer and fall events. As we know, all those efforts stopped and required RAD Strategies to quickly rethink how to continue to promote the destination. The team embraced technology to conduct a series of virtual FAM tours for Carson Valley. Each were themed and provided an opportunity to engage with RAD’s local partners and with general and niche media.

Campaign: Reno-Tahoe Territory Media Engagement

RAD Strategies

The Reno-Tahoe Territory is comprised of tourism members from throughout the region including Reno, Carson City, Carson Valley, South Lake Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. The closures and state imposed guidelines and mandates stopped many of the efforts by the individual members. However, as a territory, we led a stepped up effort to remain top of mind for visitors to the website as well as the many travel writers we were working with. Using the content feed on the website, we developed a series of posts and articles that promoted virtual, safe and travel tips. We continued to work with national media and during a very short time secured media placements in Forbes, Fodors Travel Guides, Travel Awaits, Wine Enthusiast and many more resulting in more than 115 million in online views.

Campaign: Carson City Library from Books to 3D Printing COVID-19 Nasal Swabs

RAD Strategies

Carson City Library continues to adapt to the changing needs of the community and during the pandemic it was no different. From turning around library cards for Carson City students the library showed they were quick to adapt. Nothing demonstrated this more than using their 3D printers to produce COVID-19 nasal test swabs for Northern Nevada. The library also produced PPE using 3D printing. RAD Strategies highlighted these efforts by developing content, including producing photography, to secure coverage of the library producing COVID-19 swabs.

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