2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Speech

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for speech.

Tim hayes communications

"Get Out! Commencing a Journal of Continuous Self-Improvement" - 2007 Commencement Remarks to Robert Morris University

Last year, Velma Monteiro-Tribble, coo of the Alcoa Foundation, one of the world's largest producers of aluminum, was scheduled to deliver the commencement address for Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Monteiro-Tribble wanted her speech to jolt the graduates out of their complacency and get them ready for the demands of the business world. To help her achieve her objective, she engaged Tim Hayes Communications to assist her with the presentation.

Finding a Hook

Because she had to overcome so many obstacles, such as childhood poverty and discrimination, to achieve personal success, Monteiro-Tribble felt that her speech should be replete with lessons learned based on her experience, rather than the platitudes college graduates normally hear at commencement.

"She came from such a diverse, colorful and sweeping history of achievement and observations that pinning her down to a single takeaway became the real challenge," says Tim Hayes, president of Tim Hayes Communications. "Only through rereading my notes, taking time to think about how it all worked to make her the vibrant and fascinating person she is, could the theme of 'Get Out!' come into clear focus."


Monteiro-Tribble's speech immediately got the attention of grads when she started it off with a sharp directive: "Get Out!" by making this a theme throughout her address, Monteiro-Tribble was able to make a number of cogent points to her audience. The 20-minute speech contained numerous references to her life, backed by anecdotes and quotes from historical figures monteiro-tribble admired and emulated. Key messages included the need to look beyond one's comfort zone, to never stop moving forward and to always seek out new knowledge, all of which characterize how Monteiro-Tribble has lived her own life.

The reaction to Monteiro-Tribble's speech was uniformly positive. The Robert Morris University reported more than 2,000 visits to the video replay of her presentation on its Web site within the four months following the commencement event. Press coverage was widely favorable, with clips of Monteiro-Tribble's speech seen on local newscasts the evening of commencement day and referenced in regional newspapers the next day.