Each year, the Pinnacle Awards recognize the best public relations programs and tactics in the Hampton Roads region. There are two main categories in the Pinnacle competition: Public Relations Programs and Public Relations Tactics.

    In addition to Programs and Tactics, there are three individual awards to honor members of PRSA Hampton Roads for their professional achievements in public relations – Rising StarMember of the Year and the P. Lee Starkey Pinnacle in Public Relations.

     Please review judging criteria as it will help you develop your entry.


    Entry Fees:

    Members l $50
    Non-Members l $80

    If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

    Congratulations to Our 2019 Winners

    Click here to view photos from the 2019 luncheon.

    Eastern Virginia Medical School: Best in Show for crisis communications; excellence award for crisis communications; excellence award for social media; merit award for video programs

    Samaria Bingham: Best in Show (student entry) for social media; excellence award (student entry) for social media

    City of Norfolk: excellence award for reputation/brand management

    City of Virginia Beach: merit award for video programs

    Cox Communications: merit award for community relations; merit award for special events

    Hampton Roads Community Foundation: excellence award for annual report; merit award for video programs

    Hampton Roads Transit: merit award for public service announcements

    LifeNet Health: excellence award for community relations; merit award for video programs; merit award for content marketing

    Old Dominion University: excellence award for magazines

    St. Mary’s Home: excellence award for internal/employee communications

    Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia: excellence award for most effective campaign on a shoestring budget ($5,000 or less)

    Volvo Penta: excellence award for most effective campaign on a shoestring budget ($5,000 or less); merit award for media relations; merit award for social media; merit award for video programs

    In addition to awards for programs and tactics, three public relations practitioners were honored for contributions to the profession and to the chapter.

    P. Lee Starkey Public Relations Professional of the Year Award

    Vincent Rhodes, PhD, APR, serves as Assistant Vice President and Chief Communications & Marketing Officer for Eastern Virginia Medical School. He oversees public and media relations, executive communications, content marketing, crisis communications, creative services and digital media. Dr. Rhodes also is an educator in the School of Health Professions teaching Strategic Communications. Previously Rhodes worked as Communications Manager and Clerk of the School Board for Norfolk Public Schools, the largest urban school system in Virginia and one of the top 150 largest school systems in the country.

    Dr. Rhodes has served on the PRSA Hampton Roads Board of Directors and co-chaired the chapter professional development conference twice. He also served on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA) conference national steering committee.

    Dr. Rhodes’s work has been recognized with a variety of awards from PRSA, PRSA Hampton Roads, PR News, Vital Speeches of the Day, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National School Public Relations Association, the Florida Magazine Association and others. He has received two PRSA Awards of Excellence (Silver Anvil finalist).

    Member of the Year Award

    Sonja Barisic, APR is a public relations professional who has spent nearly three decades telling people’s stories. Sonja began her career reporting for The Associated Press, covering the military, business, politics, travel, the arts and more for 18 years. That brought Sonja, a daughter of Croatian immigrants who was raised in Ohio, to Virginia. Sonja transitioned to public relations and spent the last 11 years working in nonprofit marketing communications in Hampton Roads. A former Rising Star award recipient, Sonja has been a member of the local PRSA chapter since 2009 and earned the Accreditation in Public Relations in 2015.

    Sonja has volunteered for the chapter as a committee chair, board director, secretary, treasurer, president-elect, president and immediate past president. She recently was elected to serve as treasurer of the PRSA Mid-Atlantic District in 2020. Sonja also is a freelance restaurant reviewer for The Virginian-Pilot.

    Member of the Year Award

    Christine Brantley, APR, is the marketing and communication manager for Virginia Beach Public Library where she enjoys sharing stories of how libraries transform lives each day. She has more than 20 years of experience and earned accreditation in public relations in 2015. A member of PRSA Hampton Roads since 2008, Christine served on multiple committees before joining the board as a director in 2012. She served successively as secretary, treasurer, president-elect, president and immediate past-president from 2013 to 2017. Since retiring from the board, Christine has been a chair of PRSA Hampton Roads membership committee as well as the PRSA National membership committee. Outside of PRSA, she volunteers as public relations manager for Virginia Miss Amazing, a non-profit that creates opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to focus on their abilities.