From L-R: PRAL-BR President Delia Taylor; Julie Donald, Covalent Logic; Jennie Gutierrez, LSU Foundation; Caroline Isemann, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center; Marc Goldstein, Creative Video Productions; Kelly Zimmerman, Louisiana Department of Health. Credit: PRAL

Baton Rouge Public Relations Association Honors

Industry Leaders at Annual Awards Ceremony

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Baton Rouge Chapter of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana celebrated another year of PR excellence in the Capital City by honoring top achievers in the field today at its Annual Awards Ceremony held at the Watermark Hotel. Top honorees included LSU's Jinx Broussard, PhD, as the First Circle Award recipient; WAFB's Donna Britt as Communicator of the Year; BREC's Cheryl Michelet as the Practitioner of the Year; and the Louisiana Farm Bureau's Avery Davidson as Member of the Year.

The organization also gave out the inaugural Red Stick Awards for industry achievements in several different categories. Red Stick Award winners include:

The First Circle Award is given annually to a professional with an effective and successful career in public relations. The First Circle Award is the most prestigious honor PRAL can bestow upon one of its members. This year's recipient, Jinx Broussard, PhD, is a full professor and the Bart R. Swanson Endowed Memorial Professor at LSU. Broussard teaches public relations, strategic communications, media history, and mass media theory.

As a public relations professional, she was the director of public information for the city of New Orleans and simultaneously served as press secretary to Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy in New Orleans for almost eight years. Broussard also is currently managing editor of African-American content for the Manship School’s Media and Diversity Forum. Her research interests include the black press, representations of racial and ethnic minorities, media history, alternative media, crisis communication, public relations strategies and tactics, and the civil rights movement. These interests date back to her Ph.D. dissertation, “Lifting the Veil on Obscurity: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists: 1890–1950” and subsequent book on these women. Broussard is also author of the national award-winning book titled African American Foreign Correspondents: A History.

Donna Britt was selected as Communicator of the Year, given to those who have demonstrated a high degree of skill in communicating effectively through the use of one or more of the mass media during the calendar year. Britt is the 6 p.m. anchor for WAFB TV, having worked at the station since 1981. She is the longest serving news anchor in the history of the television station.

After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in July 2017, Britt used her voice to help raise the profile of the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. This is the second time that Britt has been recognized by PRAL-BR as Communicator of the Year, the only person to currently hold that distinction. She has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, an Award of Excellence from Women in Media, and a Volunteer Activist Award from the Emerge Center.

Practitioner of the Year Cheryl Michelet joined BREC as Director of Communications in 2012. She has 13 years of experience in public relations/marketing management preceded by nearly 20 years of broadcast television management at news stations in Kansas and Louisiana. A key accomplishment at BREC over the past six years is being named one of the top four large park systems in the country by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in the highly competitive Gold Medal competition as well as national awards for innovative programming, excellence in conservation efforts and excellence in marketing. Under her leadership, the BREC Communications team has won 17 national, regional and local awards including six coveted Lantern Awards from the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF).

Mihcelet is the President-elect of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL), a board member of PRAL state and active member of NRPA and the Southern Public Relations Federation, former board member for the Baton Rouge Press Club and member of the Baton Rouge Social Media Association.

Avery Davidson, Communications Director for Louisiana Farm Bureau, was selected as Member of the Year for his work as Communication Committee Chair for PRAL-BR. Davidson began his career in broadcast journalism the day after he graduated from New Iberia Senior High, landing a job at his hometown radio station, 1240 KANE. While attending the University of Southwestern Louisiana (Now ULL), Avery made the move into television at KATC as the producer of TV-3’s morning show, “Good Morning, Acadiana.” In April of 1999, Avery moved to Baton Rouge to work for WAFB-TV 9 as the weekend and investigative producer.

Following the September 11th attacks, Avery was the first and only reporter to travel with a group of Louisiana volunteers called the Gumbo Krewe to Ground Zero. That series, “Operation: Gumbo,” won Avery his first 1st place award from the Louisiana Associated Press for an In-Depth Series. In January of 2004, Avery became the first Louisiana reporter to cover the war in Iraq from Baghdad.

Recipients of the PRAL State scholarships -- both from Baton Rouge -- were recognized at this event. The recipient of the Jack H. Sanders Scholarship is Amie Martinez, a mass communications major at LSU. Martinez is the promotions director and DJ for KLSU and a Manship Ambassador at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

Brenna Vial, a senior mass communications major at LSU will receive the William "Bill" Michelet Scholarship. Vial is currently a communications intern at BASF Corporation in Geismar, La., where she supports the southeast communications hub in the areas of public relations, community relations, event management and social media strategy. She is an active member of LSU’s Public Relations Student Society of America, Manship Ambassadors, Delta Gamma Fraternity, and was recently inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a highly selective Manship honors society.

For more information on PRAL-Baton Rouge or to become a member, visit

About Public Relations Association of Louisiana
PRAL is a statewide organization with a membership of nearly 300 public relations students and professionals who work at all levels in many industries, from small businesses and major corporations to government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits and public relations firms. PRAL is an affiliate of the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF), a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit, tax-exempt, commercially oriented business league, and consists of a network of public relations professionals from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Florida. Practitioners who are members of one of the SPRF-affiliated local chapters are automatically members of SPRF. SPRF is a member of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the national body that administers the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) professional designation.

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