PRSA Houston recognizes USACE Galveston District with six Excalibur Awards; nominated for Grand Excalibur Award

Published June 21, 2013

GALVESTON, Texas (June 21, 2013) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Public Affairs Office was recognized with six awards at the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter’s 2013 Excalibur Awards, June 20, during the annual PRSA Excalibur Awards Gala in Houston.

“I am fortunate to have a dedicated staff who, despite the ongoing budget cuts and reduction in personnel, continues to engage with the community on such a successful level that we have captured the attention of the most prestigious communicators' association in Houston," said Col. Christopher Sallese, commander of the USACE Galveston District. "It's an honor for our Public Affairs Office staff to be recognized among their peers with these tremendous accolades and I am happy to see the district's achievements highlighted."

Honored for its aggressive communications initiatives in 2012, the two-person public affairs team worked diligently and proactively to increase understanding of the Corps’ mission and to effectively facilitate a two-way dialogue with a diverse group of residents and key constituencies along the Texas coast. The district was recognized in the following categories by one of the nation’s largest and most active chapters for public relations professionals:

1. Gold Excalibur Award: Community Relations Program, Corps Cares: Connecting the Community with the Corps:  A comprehensive community relations program to increase understanding of the Corps’ mission of providing vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen the nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters. This award was nominated as a finalist for the evening’s top award – the Grand Excalibur Award.

2. Silver Excalibur Award: News Conference/Publicity Stunt, April Pools Day: A one-day media event to educate the public about water safety and partner with community leaders, volunteers and citizens to help reduce public fatalities and improve public safety.

3. Silver Excalibur Award: Internal Communications Campaign, Corps Cares: Communicating Cutbacks: An aggressive command information campaign to educate district employees about the organization’s current fiscal climate and inform staff of necessary agency-wide budget cutbacks to avoid district-wide layoffs.

4. Silver Excalibur Award: Public Service Program, Communicating Reductions of Levels of Service: A community relations campaign to educate recreational boaters who frequent the Colorado River Locks and/or the Brazos River Floodgates about the organization’s agency-wide initiative to reduce the wear and tear on navigation lock equipment and gates to prolong the life of the systems and make available more operating dollars to address ongoing maintenance needs, following the reduction in the USACE fiscal year 2013 nationwide inland navigation budget.

5. Silver Excalibur Award: Social Media, Storytelling through Social Media:  A part of a larger community relations campaign to maximize outreach efforts, engage the public and tell the Corps’ story; the Public Affairs Office began posting monthly Employee Spotlight stories online to not only highlight staffs’ achievements, but to enlighten the public about our role in the communities in which we live, work and play. The campaign allowed staff to put a face to the organization, as USACE Galveston District employees are often the organization’s best advocates, commonly on the front lines telling our story.

6. Silver Excalibur Award: Special Event, Communicating a Campaign to Save Shorelines: A campaign to increase Texas coastal residents’ awareness and understanding of the district’s ecosystem restoration mission, economic contributions to the nation and efforts to employ environmentally and economically responsible ways to use dredged materials to benefit local communities and improve eroded coastlines through beach nourishment and beneficial use programs.

“The PRSA Excalibur Awards represent the best and the brightest in Houston communications,” said Lisa Dimond Vasquez, APR, PRSA Houston Chapter’s president. “This is a fantastic achievement and tonight’s recipients are to be congratulated for their excellent work.”

The Excalibur Awards are open to any communications department within the Greater Houston Area and honor outstanding public relations professionals, programs and tactics.

"I’m proud of the work the USACE Galveston District staff does on a daily basis," said Sallese. "The team exceeded my expectations with the implementation of a comprehensive multimedia approach that incorporated new communications initiatives to instill confidence in both internal and external audiences and support the district’s, the USACE Southwestern Division’s and the Army’s communication goals and objectives.”

More than 100 entries competed for bronze, silver and gold awards. Entry submissions represented private industries including Pennzoil and Eni Petroleum, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies.

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Release no. 13-040