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What an evening it was indeed! Last night was the 2010 Portland PRSA Chapter Spotlight Awards. Many of Portland’s best and brightest public relations practitioners were all in attendance, totaling more than 150 professionals. KGW TV’s Russ Lewis was the Master of Ceremonies.

“The outstanding work honored tonight demonstrates the high quality of public relations practiced here,” said Dave Thompson, APR, 2010 president of the PRSA-Portland Metro Chapter. “This is what ethical PR is all about: Helping our clients and companies have a voice in the discussion and providing perspective to the public.”

There were a variety of award categories including: employee relations, public affairs, special events and newsletters. Edelman won big taking home six awards, CMD Agency won five, Watershed Communications won four, Koopman Ostbo won three and Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette won three. You can find a full list of the winners here.

A particularly special portion of the evening was when John Mitchell, APR, professor and advisor to PR students at my alma mater, The School of Journalism of Communication at the University of Oregon, was presented with the 2010 Service to the Public Relations Profession-Special Statewide Recognition Award. Big Congratulations to John!! GO DUCKS!

The event took place at the Leftbank Annex, which is a very modern and industrial space near the Rose Garden. I arrived early and looked through the award entries. Each one was prepared with great precision and detail. I enjoyed looking through them and reading each entry’s research, strategy and results. I was graciously invited by Therese Lang, a PDX PRSA board member. We met up and she was kind enough to introduce me to many of her long-time friends in the industry. It was such a thrill to walk through the room and meet someone and think, “Oh you are the owner of the agency I’ve been researching and admiring!”

I remember professors emphasizing the importance of knowing and successfully delivering your personal elevator pitch. Last night, I gave it at least 20 times in response to the question, “So tell me about yourself?” Suddenly conversing with a professional you’ve admired for years can be terrifying. It was a good thing that I had thought this through and rehearsed my pitch! I was prepared and it made conversation flow much more naturally. Big props to the SOJC professors and to Mindy Lockard whose advice I referenced often. Mindy, you’ll be happy to know that I made successful connections vs. eating dinner, I exchanged calling cards and I made sure that I always had one non-sticky hand with which to say hello!

One unexpected delight of the evening was to see so many professors and instructors from the SOJC in attendance to support John’s award. I had not seen them all since graduation and it was a treat to reconnect with them and catch up on everything that has happened since June.

If you are a PR professional in Portland and are not involved with PRSA, what are you waiting for?! This is an outstanding group of professionals and I look forward learning from them.

Below are some photos from the event taken by Lisa Sherwin. You can see all the photos here.

Me reviewing the entries before the event.

Me with Pat Curtin, UO School of Journalism and Communication Chair in PR

Congratulations to John Mitchell!