March 10, 2003
Web site, safety and media relations programs win top honors from Public Relations Association of Mississippi
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center has been recognized by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi for excellence in the field of public relations.
PRAM honored the Jackson hospital’s statewide safety program, media relations program, Web site, magazine, logo design, several photographs and a groundbreaking ceremony with seven Prism Awards and five certificates of excellence or achievement at their annual convention in Starkville.
Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program received the highest honor in the long-term public service category. Since its inception, more than 16,000 school children in 60 Mississippi schools have heard the hospital’s safety message.
"We put so much time and effort into Think First," said Jim Albritton, director of public relations at the hospital. "It is great to be recognized by your peers for work you truly enjoy and think is important. This recognition means so much to all of us."
The public relations department’s media relations program received two Prism Awards for staff-written feature stories about physically challenged athletes who water ski and Rankin County neighbors who battled Guillain Barre Syndrome at the Jackson hospital. Methodist Rehab received a third Prism award in the crisis communication category for organizing two news conferences announcing the hospital’s discovery that West Nile virus can cause a form of paralysis similar to polio. The news conferences generated worldwide media coverage.
The hospital’s Web site, www.methodistonline.org, was singled out as best in the state among those designed by an outside firm. The site, which is updated daily by public relations staff, includes feature stories, question and answer sections, audio, video and more than 160 news releases.
Both the redesign of the Methodist Rehab logo and a photograph of a wheelchair racer at the hospital’s annual Reunion Race were honored with Prism awards.
Ways & Means, Methodist Rehab’s magazine, received an award of excellence in the external publication category. The annual publication includes patient profiles, feature stories and the latest research news from the hospital’s Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the hospital’s long term care facility in Flowood and a photograph of the hospital’s canine companion participating in a safety program at an elementary school were also recognized with awards of excellence.
A news release about the West Nile virus discovery was awarded a certificate of achievement as was a photograph of physically challenged athletes playing quad rugby.
The public relations staff includes special events manager and Think First for Kids coordinator Lisa Gates, Think First for Teens coordinator Lauren Fairburn, communications manager Collin Johnson, assistant director Susan Christensen and Albritton. The staff plans special events, writes news releases and feature stories, works with the media and produces numerous publications.
The department works with RARE Design, a Hattiesburg-based advertising firm, and with Mindbender, a Web site developer in Jackson.
The annual Prism Awards competition is held each year and is open to any individual, company or organization engaged in public relations, community education or public affairs.
This photograph, taken by Brent Wallace, of physically challenged athlete and wheelchair racer Randy Lavender at Reunion Race, was honored with a Prism Award at the annual PRAM convention in Starkville.
This photograph taken at Spann Elementary School in Jackson by Brent Wallace earned a certificate of excellence from PRAM.
This photograph, taken by Collin Johnson, of physically challenged athletes playing quad rugby, received a certificate of achievement from PRAM.