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

Published June 20, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas (June 20, 2014) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District was recognized with six awards at the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter’s 2014 Excalibur Awards Gala in Houston last night.

“Being recognized for these campaigns is a testament to the tremendous efforts the Galveston District staff made throughout the year in the areas of STEM, educating the public about water safety and communicating our efforts along the Texas coast to inform taxpayers how we are adding value to the nation and being good stewards of taxpayers' dollars,” said Col. Richard Pannell, commanding officer of the USACE Galveston District. “These awards are a true reflection of the district's dedication, hard work and commitment to partnering to achieve our mission.” 
Honored for its community outreach initiatives in 2013, the district increased understanding of the Corps’ mission to encourage and 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, Communicating Corps responsibilities along the Texas coast:  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 earned the evening’s top award – the Grand Excalibur Award.

2. Gold Excalibur Award: Multicultural, Corps in the Classroom: Building tomorrow’s leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are growing rapidly; however, the U.S. is not producing enough students to keep up with demand. With 19 percent of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 36,600 workforce qualifying for immediate retirement and 22 percent for early retirement, the world’s largest public engineering firm struggles with a shrinking pool of graduates who are critical to mission success. To address this growing problem, the district launched an aggressive community outreach and social media campaign to spark students’ interest in STEM subjects, help counter stereotypes and increase participation of underrepresented groups in STEM careers.

3. Silver Excalibur Award: Public Service Program, Selling water safety to save lives: Army engineers collaborate to combat water-related fatalities: A community outreach and public information campaign to reduce public fatalities, educate those who use the district’s recreational facilities, enhance the commitment of community leaders to promote learning to swim and wearing lifejackets. The innovative campaign included partnering with multicultural media outlets and national organizations to maximize outreach efforts to exceed campaign objectives and contribute to zero water-related fatalities at district facilities.

4. Silver Excalibur Award: Social Media, #STEMInspiration: Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM):  With gaps in STEM education often beginning before students attend college and continuing to increase as students graduate and pursue higher education, the team employed a three-prong strategy to target key demographics to assist in promoting the pursuit of STEM careers among students by: 1) Recruiting, developing and retaining STEM professionals 2) Collaboration 3) Leveraging support from STEM professionals. Garnering support from nationally-recognized partners, including Emmy-nominated Actress Mayim Bialik, Ph.D., (The Big Bang Theory & Blossom), the campaign sparked students’ interest in STEM careers, engaged millions in targeted demographics, while increasing awareness by 214 percent.

5. Government Communications Team of the Year: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District was no exception to the careful oversight of taxpayers, who scrutinized every dollar the federal government spent during the 2013 year – a year filled with federal budget cuts, hiring freezes, reduction in district services and a government shutdown. Entrusted with managing the district’s reputation, the two-person Public Affairs Office team implemented new communications initiatives to instill confidence in both internal and external audiences using social media, community outreach, command information and media relations to meet and exceed leadership’s goals and objectives.

"PRSA Houston's Grand Excalibur Award symbolizes that the highest standards in the public relations profession have been achieved,” said Kelly George, PRSA Houston Chapter president. “I congratulate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District on this outstanding accomplishment.”

The Excalibur Awards are open to any communications department within the Greater Houston Area and honor outstanding public relations professionals, programs and tactics. Approximately 100 entries competed for bronze, silver and gold awards.

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Release no. 14-029