The Community Foundation for Mississippi’s Director of Communications, Sophie McNeil Wolf, was recently awarded a PRism Award (Short Term: Crisis Communication) by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi for her communications efforts during the Jackson water crisis. The awards ceremony, held in early April in Tupelo, recognizes outstanding work by Mississippians in public relations and celebrates select individuals for their contributions to the profession. The PRism Award is the top award for each category.
The PRism Awards program allows PRAM members to receive an unbiased evaluation of their work in various categories from campaigns to individual tactics. Award-winning entries are scored on their own merits, demonstrating knowledge and application of the four-step PR process, emphasizing research, planning, implementation and evaluation.
CFM was one of four organizations earning PRism Awards, placing them in the top 10 percent of projects as judged by the outside panel of PR professionals. Wolf’s work joins the ranks of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Visit Ridgeland, and Tupelo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, also honored with PRism Awards.
This PRism Award honored Wolf’s work during the Jackson water crisis, where she used her unique skill set of combining data and storytelling at CFM to create a hub for information.
Using the RPIE process, Wolf began listening to organizers and nonprofits on the ground to understand needs and quickly formulate a one-stop informational webpage that could be widely shared across partners and sectors to communicate needs and avenues for support. During this time, the CFM team also launched their Helping Friends and Neighbors (Disaster Response) Fund as a pipeline for giving that could be used to fill gaps in nonprofit needs both in the short-term and for mid- and long-term solutions post-emergency.
Post-launch, CFM became a leader in the crisis by filling the information gap. Feedback was immediate that many media professionals were thankful to have a trusted source for information, including the vetting of organizations to support through donations. Media coverage spread from local to statewide, which then caught national media attention. From WLBT and Mississippi Today to NPR and Vogue, the awareness of CFM and the power of local support was quickly in the spotlight. Philanthropy partners on a regional and national scale also lifted up the work, including Philanthropy Southeast, Council on Foundations and the Chronicle for Philanthropy.
“PRism Awards are incredibly humbling because you are highlighted among peers and chosen by judges across the country,” said Wolf. “I am proud of our work last summer and will always cherish this award.”