Published: Sept. 13, 2022

The Colorado chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) honored Professor Dawn Doty of the College of Media, Communication and Information and CMCI alumna Nora Thomas with Gold Pick Awards. 

In addition, the campus media relations team within Strategic Relations and Communications received three Silver Pick Awards for science-based stories and media pitches on health and tech topics. 

The awards focus on recognizing excellence in public relations among Colorado private firms, government and nonprofit organizations. 

2022 Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement: Dawn Doty

Dawn Doty

Dawn Doty, teaching associate professor, CU Boulder 

Dawn Doty, a teaching associate professor, joined CU Boulder as a full-time public relations instructor in 2016 and helped to establish CU's first-ever PRSSA chapter. In 2021, she received PRSA's Outstanding Educator Award. In 2022, she was promoted to teaching associate professor. 

During her professional career, Doty had a track record of achieving results in corporate, agency and nonprofit work environments including management positions in Chicago, San Francisco and Colorado for several global public relations firms, Orbitz, and Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts. Before transitioning to CU Boulder, she was a partner with Denver-based Linhart PR, where her clients included Chipotle, Croes, Rudi's Organic Bakery, Southwest Airlines and the U.S. Air Force Academy, to name a few.

Doty earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Dayton, where she was a member of the university's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. She earned her graduate degree in 2014 from Johns Hopkins University. 

2022 Media Relations: Silver Pick winning selections

Demonstrating the impact of well-crafted science stories that resonate with a general audience, CU Boulder Strategic Media Relations won three Silver Pick Awards. All three pieces earned significant (national) media coverage and engagement on social media.

 ‘How therapy, not pills, can nix chronic pain and change the brain’ by Lisa Marshall

On Sept. 29, 2021, CU Boulder researchers published a study in the prestigious medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, showing that a non-drug, psychological treatment called Pain Reprocessing Therapy helped chronic pain sufferers overcome their pain and maintain relief for one year. The media team developed a news story and release, resulting in 355 news mentions in The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, CBS News, among others. 

Judge comment: “It is excellent that this is the result of three years of consistent media outreach and media relations efforts. The media results qualify and seem to reward all of that effort and the foresight of your team. Thinking ahead and providing broadcast-friendly resources was smart. I also appreciate that you included results that went beyond media placements.”

Strategic Media Relations team

Front row: Silver Pick winners Dan Strain, Lisa Marshall and Kelsey Simpkins. Back row: Strategic Media Relations team members Noelle Seybert, Candace Smith, Nicole Mueksch, Ally Dever and Julie Poppen

 ‘New wearable device turns the body into a battery’ by Dan Strain

A device that turns the human body into a source of power may sound like something out of The Matrix. It’s also a real creation of engineers at CU Boulder. To promote this invention, the media team developed a news story and shared a news release in February 2021. Their efforts led to coverage by USA Today, Popular Mechanics, among others, and earned 155 quality media mentions. 

Judge comment: “This was an excellent example to supercharge your awareness campaign; you tapped into an excellent and timely idea that is ripe for media interest and subsequent pickup. The way you contextualized the results was very helpful.”

 ‘Mutation-mapping tool could yield stronger COVID boosters, universal vaccines’ by Kelsey Simpkins

Researchers at CU Boulder developed a platform that can quickly identify common mutations on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that allow it to escape antibodies and infect cells. The research marked a major step toward successfully developing a universal vaccine. The media team developed a news story and shared a news release in August 2021. These media relations efforts led to 92 quality media mentions.

Judge comment: “Your piece on CU Boulder's main news site was well written, interesting and accessible. You also did a really nice job of connecting research to the larger news story—the COVID pandemic. You had a very clear goal and impressive media coverage.”

2022 Joe Fuentes Rookie of the Year: Nora Thomas

Nora Thomas

Nora Thomas, founder and president, Nora Thomas Ltd. 

As a Colorado native with a strong familiarity of the Denver market, over the last year the CU Boulder alumna braved the leap and started her own marketing, PR and consulting business at the age of 25, called Nora Thomas Ltd. Today, she is working with some of the most influential and impactful local ventures focusing on women-owned businesses in the wellness and coaching space. 

Her scope of work ranges from marketing on social media and paid ads to community partnerships to business development. In her experience thus far, Thomas has made meaningful connections for all of her clients and has created relationships with over 30 businesses in the Denver area from higher education and nonprofits to the cannabis industry. 

Thomas works to help clients focus on social responsibility in some aspects and, as of late, has been focusing on how she can support her clients in giving back to the community. 

PRSA is the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community. With more than 30,000 professional and student members, PRSA is collectively represented across the U.S. by 110 chapters and 14 Professional Interest Sections, and on nearly 375 college and university campuses through its student organization.