2014 PR People Awards: PR Professional of Year: Nonprofit/Association

Winner: Lauren Lawson-Zilai,  Director of Public Relations and National Spokesperson, Goodwill Industries International

Lauren Lawson-Zilai designs and directs the public relations strategy for Goodwill Industries International, a leading nonprofit provider of job training programs and career services in the United States and Canada.

Lawson-Zilai uses her skills to promote important cause partnerships with national brands such as the Bank of America Foundation, Bon-Ton Stores, Dell, Family Circle Magazine, Gap, Hanes, Levi’s and the Walmart Foundation; and mission-related partnerships such as First Lady Michele Obama’s Joining Forces initiative and the Got Your 6 partnership to help veterans and military family members find jobs.

Earlier this year, she led an integrated, cross-platform communications and marketing campaign, which drove tax filers to MyFreeTaxes online and in-person sites. The 2014 tax season collaboration continued to increase outputs and outcomes, resulting in sustained growth across multiple areas including more than 1 billion traditional media impressions (print, radio, television and online in English and Spanish) engaging taxpayers in filing at in-person sites or on MyFreeTaxes.com. Major placements included ABC News, U.S. News and World Report, Fox News Radio, Forbes, Huffington Post, and multiple personal finance, mommy, thrift and frugal living blogs.

Lawson-Zilai also led five separate Google Adwords campaigns, using text-only search results and display or graphic ads, resulting in more than 15,769,661 impressions and almost 58,643 clicks, which translated into a 0.37% click-through rate, above industry standards. The Google Adwords campaign generated 16,653 filed tax returns. Promoted testimonial videos on the MyFreeTaxes Facebook page gained the highest interest with over 7,600 video plays.

This year, Lawson-Zilai introduced the use of visual social media, as a series of infographics on key messages were used in paid social media advertising campaigns to reinforce the brand and drive traffic to MyFreeTaxes.com.

Honorable Mention:

  • Lora Bodmer, NAMM and the NAMM Foundation