By USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Office
GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District won two prestigious Silver Anvil awards and one Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America. The Silver Anvil, which recognizes outstanding achievement in strategic public relations planning and implementation, was presented during the Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony last night in New York City.
“We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to educate the public about these structures while we worked diligently to address structural issues and implement measures to reduce the risk to public safety,” said Col. Richard Pannell, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. “Staff sought new and innovative ways to communicate with Houstonians following the classification process that identified necessary structural work to bolster these critical dams so that they could continue to provide flood damage protection for 1.2 million residents and potentially avoid $8 billion in losses in the event of a major flood.”
The USACE Galveston District received a Silver Anvil Award and an Award of Excellence for its communication efforts concerning its Dam Safety Program in the Community Relations and Integrated Communications categories. The public announcement of the USACE Dam Safety Program’s reclassification of the Addicks and Barker dams to “Extremely High Risk,” presented staff with the challenge of communicating the findings to inform 1.2 million residents in the nation’s fourth largest city of risks associated with living downstream of the dams, the $6.8 million short-term interim risk reduction measures in store and the $75-$100 million long-term construction plan to reinforce the nearly 70-year-old structures while maintaining the Corps’ reputation and relevancy as an organization that makes public safety a top priority.
“The PRSA Silver Anvil awards recognize the nation’s best public relations campaigns and are often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of our industry,” said Isidro Reyna, deputy chief of public affairs for the USACE Galveston District. “We are incredibly humbled to be honored by our peers for our aggressive communications efforts in the greater Houston area, which ultimately instilled confidence in both internal and external audiences and supported the U.S. Army’s goals and objectives.”
Sandra Arnold, chief of the USACE Galveston District Public Affairs Office, says the Galveston District’s team put forth a genuine effort to keep residents apprised of the status of the aging infrastructure and that these efforts were reflected in the award selection results.
“Staff understood the importance of keeping the community informed throughout this entire repair and modification process and worked to engage residents in discussions regarding findings, recommended plans and future construction,” said Arnold. “The five-year community relations plan’s success hinged on open, two-way exchange of information about the dams’ hazards and risks as well as implementing feedback as we continued to discuss the Corps’ capabilities and responsibilities related to sustaining this critical infrastructure.”
Arnold stated that staff will remain committed in its efforts to communicate the risks associated with living in proximity to these structures and will work to maintain local relationships as well as promote transparency and understanding of the district’s Dam Safety Program.
“Most importantly, we will continue to keep Houstonians in the forefront when moving forward with construction this fall.”
The district was also recognized with a 2015 PRSA Silver Anvil Award in the Multicultural Public Relations category for its Corps in the Classroom program to discuss the Corps’ mission with students and highlight the district’s contributions to the community, state and nation. Additionally, the PRSA Houston Chapter recognized the district’s communication efforts regarding its Dam Safety Program and named USACE Galveston District as a finalist for the Grand Excalibur Award, the top award bestowed in the chapter for public relations excellence. The award will be presented in mid June.
The Silver Anvil Awards program has grown in scope and stature since its inception in 1946, and awards are now given in 16 categories and over 60 sub-categories. In the 60-plus-year history of the Silver Anvils, many organizations have been recognized, including solo practitioners, agencies of all sizes, large and small businesses, top corporations, nonprofits, associations and government agencies. Entries are judged on their research, planning, execution and evaluation, while also taking factors such as creativity, ethics and budget into consideration.
For more information about the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and dams visit www.addicksandbarker.info or learn more about dam safety at http://www.damsafety.org/. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict, or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEGalveston.