The Clewiston News

AAASWFL earns statewide public relations awards

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) has been honored with two statewide awards for public relations. The awards were presented Aug. 7 in Ponde Vedra Beach at the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Golden Image Awards ceremony.

AAASWFL earned an Award of Distinction and a Judges’ Award for the agency’s “SHINE on” public affairs campaign. “SHINE on” educated Southwest Florida residents about the importance of free, unbiased Medicare counseling and encouraged citizens to advocate for continued federal funding for these programs. The campaign was planned and executed by AAASWFL Director of Communications Kirsten O’Donnell with assistance from the Agency’s SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) staff and volunteers.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve earned this level of recognition,” explains Marianne Lorini, AAASWFL president and CEO. “The agency earned some local and state public relations awards in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s really an honor for our agency to be recognized by our peers across the state once again.”

The Golden Image Awards have set the standard of public relations excellence in the Sunshine State since 1968. The FPRA website notes that entries must incorporate sound public relations research and planning. Award winners must meet the highest standards of production, execution and evaluation of results and budget. Awards of distinction are presented to entries that meet the standards of excellence set by a panel of judges. Judges’ Awards may additionally be conferred upon entries that achieve maximum results while using a minimal budget.

The Agency’s “SHINE on” public affairs campaign was seen by more than half a million Southwest Floridians at an expense of only $250 to AAASWFL. In part because of the resulting advocacy efforts by Southwest Florida citizens, funding for the SHIP Medicare counseling program was increased in the 2018 Bipartisan Omnibus Spending Bill (HR 1625). In 2017, AAASWFL assisted more than 33,000 older adults, caregivers and others in Southwest Florida through its programs and services, including the Elder Helpline, SHINE Medicare counseling and health and wellness workshops. The agency received more than 65,000 calls to its toll-free helpline last year from individuals seeking services for older adults.