The North Pacific District of the Public Relations Society of America announced Cindy Sharpe, APR, as its inaugural Public Relations Practitioner of the Year at its district conference held in Reno, Nevada June 23 through 25, 2016.
This new award will be given annually to a PRSA member in the district who has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. The award will honor those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions to PRSA.
“We are thrilled to launch this opportunity to shine a light on the many talented public relations pros in our district who are so giving of their time to help further the profession. Congratulations to all of the finalists, and to Ms. Sharpe for being our inaugural winner,” said Betsy Hayes, APR, Fellow PRSA, district award chairperson and PRSA NPD immediate past chair.
The North Pacific District one of the largest geographic areas of PRSA, consists of 2,500 members in 15 chapters located in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
“I’m incredibly honored to have been recognized by the PRSA North Pacific District. It’s my 30th year as a member of PRSA, so this award is especially meaningful for me,” said Sharpe.
Sharpe’s broad industry experience crosses the fields of healthcare, construction, insurance, government, travel and tourism, transportation, real estate and small business marketing.
As President/Owner of Sharpe Public Relations, Inc., initially located in Florida and for the past three years based in Seattle, Sharpe specializes in strategic public relations planning and counsel, crisis communications, government public involvement and education and engagement among her many talents. She has put her strong writing and editing skills to use in employee communications and government relations as well as training programs for corporate communications professionals, speechwriting and public speaking.
Prior to owning her own firm, she worked with AAA Auto Club South where she designed grassroots campaigns to support government relations efforts in three state legislatures and served as spokesperson while overseeing media relations and internal communications. She has also held positions at Shriners Hospitals for Children and Hill & Knowlton, Inc.
Sharpe has been a long-time leader in PRSA, beginning in college at the University of South Florida, where she was president of her student Public Relations Student Society of America chapter.
Upon graduation, she continued her PRSA membership with the Tampa Bay Chapter, volunteering for or chairing numerous committees and was elected to the board multiple times, including two years as chapter president.
She served on the PRSA Sunshine District (greater Florida) board as district chair and in other capacities, and has worked on several district conferences. She’s served on numerous national PRSA committees including nominating, bylaws and membership.
Sharpe moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2013, and again, jumped into PRSA service. She organized the Puget Sound Chapter’s first “PR Gives Back” event in 2013, which provides nonprofit organizations with free public relations and marketing counseling. Now in its third year, this event has given the gift of guidance to 60 Washington non-profit organizations.
Sharpe currently serves on the board of the Puget Sound chapter, where she recently chaired the chapter’s bylaws review and changed the way the chapter recruits and elects its officers and board. She has also served on the chapter’s diversity committee, assisted with its website, served as judge for various chapter awards programs, worked with the accreditation committee to peer review or counsel prospective Accreditation in Public Relations candidates and served on the chapter’s nominating committee.
While these are highly visible projects, she has enjoyed more working with up-and-coming practitioners, introducing them to the profession. She has mentored many students and young professionals, teaching them that volunteerism is a key to success. She also teaches that PR is more than “getting the word out.” It’s about behavior change, motivating people to act and strategically addressing a problem or issue. It’s about using research to not only identify and clarify a problem, but to also measure results.
Sharpe is currently working with the Puget Sound chapter’s student outreach committee to provide student support to affiliate PRSSA students in the area.