STARKVILLE, Miss.--Three public relations professionals will be honored July 13 on Mississippi State University's Starkville campus with induction into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.
Sponsored by the Southern Public Relations Federation and MSU's Department of Communication, the ceremony will be held 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the John Grisham Room at Mitchell Memorial Library. For the second year, new inductees will be honored with the unveiling of name-engraved, permanent plaques. The three were announced in October at the SPRF Annual Conference in Point Clear, Ala.
SPRF is a society of about 1,300 public relations professionals from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Northwest Florida. Members of the four state chapters (Public Relations Council of Alabama, Public Relations Association of Mississippi, Public Relations Association of Louisiana, and the Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization) represent virtually all sectors of public relations practice. Members participate in various local, state, and regional awards programs recognizing campaigns, projects, or individual achievements, but the hall of fame recognizes lifetime contributions.
"This is the second year for our hall of fame ceremony at Mississippi State," said Susan Broussard, APR, president of SPRF. "We're excited to once again recognize three leaders from our region who have impacted the public relations profession. MSU is the permanent location for the plaque, so we think it's very appropriate for these leaders to see where their names will be displayed for future generations."
One of the inductees is Sherry Harlow, APR, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. She was a founding member of ECPRO and has since served in many roles for the organization and SPRF for the past 19 years. She has been marketing director of Eglin Federal Credit Union for 33 years. Harlow continues to be very instrumental in leading other professionals toward Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) through workshops and mentoring.
The second inductee is William E. "Bud" Kirkpatrick from Hattiesburg, a founding member of the Pine Belt Chapter of PRAM. He was named director of public relations for the University of Southern Mississippi in 1972 and served in that capacity for the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses until his retirement in 2002. He founded the Great Pine Belt Exposition, now a Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership annual event. Kirkpatrick also spearheaded initiatives leading to Hattiesburg's selection as a pre-Olympic training site in 1996.
The third inductee is Yvonne McGehee Sorge, APR, from the Central Chapter of PRAM in Jackson. Sorge is considered a trailblazer for executive women, helping many move into leadership roles. She began her career at an advertising agency in Memphis and then accepted a position with Kennington's Department Store in Jackson to serve as advertising manager and fashion coordinator. Several years later she joined Gordon Marks & Company as account executive and senior vice president for advertising and public relations. She also opened her own firm, Yvonne Sorge Advertising and Public Relations, and retired in 2009.
The class of inductees joins the inaugural class of Phillip R. Forrest Jr. (Alabama), Rex Kelly (Mississippi), and William A. "Bill" Michelet, APR, Fellow PRSA (Louisiana). The third class of the hall of fame will be named in October during the SPRF Annual Conference in Destin, Fla.
The permanent location of the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame is at MSU because of the central location and involvement of MSU faculty in the organization. Adam Kelley, APR, from Birmingham initiated the program while serving as president of SPRF and will attend the event to assist with the ceremony. Kelley is the corporate communications manager for Children's of Alabama.
"We have so many leaders in SPRF, and this is a way to recognize those who have exemplified a lifetime of achievement and service," Kelley said. "Public relations is such a growing field, and we need to honor those who have helped so many of us in our careers."
"All three of this year's inductees have been mentors to me at various points of my life, and I know they have been influential to literally hundreds of others in all stages of their careers," said John Forde, APR, Fellow PRSA, who is head of the MSU Department of Communication and is a long-time officer in PRAM and SPRF.
For more information about the event, contact Broussard at 318-484-7773, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Forde at 662-325-8033, email@example.com. To contact the inductees, call Harlow at 850-862-0111; Kirkpatrick at 601-520-9437; and Sorge at 601-956-4195.
Additional information about the SPRF Hall of Fame may be found at www.sprf.org/awards/hall-of-fame. For more information about Mississippi State University, visit www.msstate.edu.