PRAM honors Herrington with Professional Achievement Award, recognizes MSU students, staff with multiple honors

Checky Herrington (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State alumnus and senior member of the university’s Office of Public Affairs is the recipient of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s highest honor.

Checky Herrington, MSU’s brand manager, accepted the 2019 Professional Achievement Award during the organization’s recent conference in Vicksburg. The award is presented annually to a PRAM member who embodies the highest degree of professionalism, serves his or her community, has outstanding achievements in the practice of public relations, and is committed to advancing the profession.

Since joining the university full time in 2014, Herrington has spearheaded the “We Ring True” branding initiative, which garnered awards at PRAM’s recent PRism Awards competition. Honors include a PRism Award for MSU’s digital communications program and a Certificate of Merit for the MSU Summer Advantage marketing campaign. In addition to Herrington, OPA team members included Sid Salter, MSU chief communications officer and director; Harriet Laird, associate director; Heather Rowe, digital design editor; and Bethany Shipp, marketing and communication coordinator. James Parker, senior producer for the University Television Center, also contributed.

“Checky Herrington’s distinguished career in public relations is one that is certainly worthy of this high honor,” Salter said. “In journalism, in multi-state corporate public affairs, in state government and now in higher education, Checky has brought creativity, passion and talent to the workplace on a daily basis. He has made the creative side of MSU’s marketing and branding efforts demonstrably better, and we are all very proud of this recognition from his colleagues in PRAM. He’s earned it.”

Before returning to his alma mater, Herrington enjoyed a 30-year career with Entergy Corp., leading the company’s utility and nuclear efforts. During this time, he received many awards and honors, including the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Award for work as a team member during and after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2014, Herrington received the Accreditation in Public Relations, or APR, designation from PRSA’s Universal Accreditation Board, and in 2015, he was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows. This prestigious group includes some 350 senior members—less than two percent of all members—who have successfully advanced in the profession by distinguishing themselves in major leadership roles.

In 2017, Herrington was inducted into the Southern Public Relations Federation’s Hall of Fame.

A Louisville native, Herrington holds an MSU bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in marketing and public relations.

Laura McPhail, communications manager for MSU’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, was one of four new APR recipients recognized at the PRAM Conference.

Kali Hicks (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Kali M. Hicks, now a recent MSU summa cum laude communication/public relations and foreign language/Spanish graduate from Franklin, Tennessee, also was named PRAM Student of the Year. Presented annually to a student exemplifying the professionalism, goals and ideals of the public relations profession, the award included a $1,000 scholarship from CSpire.

Others PRAM honors for MSU include:

—Award of Excellence for “Get to Know Your MSU Extension Agent” social video campaign. Team members from MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications include Ellen Graves, social media strategist; Jonathan Parrish, Extension associate I; and Elizabeth Gregory North, department head.

—Award of Excellence for “The Food Factor: Transition from Broadcast to Blog.” Team members include Natasha Haynes, Extension agent IV and host; Susan Collins-Smith, content developer; Ellen Graves, social media strategist; Kevin Hudson, photographer; Cindy Callahan, web developer; Art Shirley, web manager; Jonathan Parrish, videographer; and Keri Collins Lewis, content manager.

—Award of Excellence for “Seed Tech Short Course.” Team members include Leah Barbour, OAC marketing and communication coordinator; Kim Trimm, Extension associate II; Ellen Graves, OAC social media strategist; Nathan Gregory, OAC news writer; Phillip Smith, Extension associate III; and Amy Myers, Extension associate II.

—PRism Award for “Data Summit 2018” and Award of Excellence for “Nexus: A Magazine by NSPARC.” Team members from NSPARC include Laura McPhail, communications manager; Libbi Havelin, administrative assistant II; sponsorship consultant Kathryn Stewart; Jed Pressgrove, former tech writer; Femi Sobayo, graphic designer; and student workers Katelynn Bowman, Gregory Ellzey and Tori Boatner.

—Certificate of Merit for “College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Influence and E-Newsletter” and Award of Excellence for “Mississippi Youth Institute World Food Prize Social Media Campaign.” Team members from MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Marketing include graphic designers David Ammon and Dominique Belcher; Vanessa Beeson, publications editor; Karen Brasher, marketing coordinator; and web designers Stephen Caples and Chase Shaw.

—Award of Excellence for “2018 Social Science Research Center Annual Report” by Michael A. Burns, research associate II.

—Certificate of Merit for “Bulldog Free Tuition Program Launch.” Team members include James Carskadon, OPA news writer; David Garraway, University Television Center director; and OPA photographer Megan Bean. Lt. Col. Christian Patterson, director of public affairs for the Mississippi Military Department and public affairs officer for the Mississippi National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters in Jackson, also contributed.

—Certificate of Merit for “The sky’s the limit: MSU student venture may have global impact on rural internet access.” OPA team members include news editor Allison Matthews and photographer Megan Bean.

—Award of Excellence for “A Bulldog Through and Through: ExxonMobil Canada leader cherishes close ties to alma mater” by OPA news writer Sasha Steinberg.

For a complete list of PRism winners, see

Learn more about MSU’s “We Ring True” branding initiative at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at