Top 10 PR & Marketing Winners of 2016: Part Two

Welcome to Part Two of my Top 10 PR and Marketing Winners of 2016, showcasing what I think are some of the best campaigns.  Yesterday I featured Budweiser, Disney, Pokemon Go, The Smithsonian and Pret A Manger.

Today, I offer 5 more campaigns that show that public relations and marketing is so much more than making a profit or hiding the truth.


Top 10 PR & Marketing Winners of 2016: Part Two

These are not in any particular order, not do I receive any endorsements from the companies/organizations listed.  

5.  Save Betty White

Sometimes the best campaigns are the accidental ones, with little or no ties to any corporation or organization.

Earlier this week, Demetrios Hrysikos from Spartanburg, South Carolina launched a GoFundMe campaign that was born from a joke of sorts.


Photo courtesy of Hrysikos’ GoFundMe features a much younger Betty White

Feeling a little distraught after Carrie Fisher passed away on Tuesday, Hrysikos vowed to keep Betty White safe from the year that has taken so many famous persons away from us.

In a fairly short time, Hrysikos’ campaign goal of $2,000 was exceeded and Betty White’s spokesperson suggested donating the money to charity.

Hrysikos took that advice, made a new goal of raising $10K which is nearly met at the time of this post. All proceeds will go to benefit Spartanburg Little Theater.

With more and more people using social media and personal funding sites, I believe that we’ll be seeing more and more of these personal charitable fund-raisers.  It’s nice to know that Demetrios Hrysikos is setting a good example for these kinds of things.

For that reason, he makes my PR/Marketing Winners list this year.


4. Wegmans

In my humble opinion, this list would not be complete without mentioning the award winning Wegmans Food Markets.

My grocery shopping experience can be summed up by either loving the experience of shopping at Wegmans when I visit my son or lamenting over not having a Wegmans to shop at on a regular basis.

It just so happened that I was visiting my son on his 21st birthday and received an update on my phone with the following press release:

Wegmans Lowers Prices on More Family Items“.  Like I needed a reason to visit one of the many stores within a stone’s throw from my son’s apartment.  It was already on my itinerary for the next day before I returned home.

You might say that this is nothing more than a sale dressed up as a press release encouraging people to shop at Wegmans so that the company can make a profit.  And you might be correct, but you have to look at the bigger picture.

Wegmans is one of the best places in the United States to work, cares for the communities where their stores are,  and have a long-standing history of philanthropy.


Photo Courtesy of Wegman’s website

There’s a million reasons why I love this store, and in my honest opinion Harrod’s in London doesn’t have anything on Wegmans’ flagship store in Pittsford, NY.  I better stop before my bias shows anymore than it has already.

Just one more thing. I have a great personal story about Wegmans.

The first semester that my daughter had her car at college, she went to the local Wegmans to pick up some groceries. It was a fairly windy and rainy day; the kind where shopping carts get away from the “guys” who wrangle the carts from the parking lots and corrals.  Which is what happened.  One stray cart slammed into our daughter’s car, taking off one of her side view mirrors. It was no one’s fault, but the cart “guy” quickly convinced our daughter to go back inside to talk to the manager. She was told by the manager that Wegmans would assume all repairs, all she had to do was get an estimate and submit it back to them.  Which we did.  They paid the bill in full, complete with a new mirror, dent removal and paint within two weeks’ time. No questions asked.

What company does this? Wegmans.  That’s the kind of company they are.

There are a number of press releases, all available on their website, that shows the extent of Wegmans’ concern for their employees, altruistic corporate mentality, and charitable partnerships. Time and time again, Wegmans shows that they are not just in business to make a profit and they genuinely care about whether or not their customers can afford to purchase items they need the most.  And for that reason, Wegmans will probably always make my list of PR and marketing winners, as long as they never, ever change.

For a list of Wegmans’ press releases visit


3. Domino’s Pizza

I have to admit that I am somewhat of a pizza snob.  We live in an area of Upstate NY that is known far and wide for its Italian cuisine and we probably have the most locally owned pizza places per capita of any other place on earth. We don’t have a Domino’s close by.  We used to, but I guess they were in the wrong place.

But, I have watched a lot of their commercials lately that impress me from a PR/Marketing standpoint.

First, there’s the campaign that leveled off the prices of their pizza.  They used to offer a special price for carry-out pizzas Monday through Thursday, and then nearly doubling the price for the same pizza on the weekends when the demand was higher.  But, they probably did some market research that showed that people what people thought that this was a form of price gouging, and thankfully they listened.  Now their carry-out pizza prices are the same everyday.


Photo courtesy of Domino’s Website

In conjunction with this campaign, Domino’s flat out admitted to the public that they were wrong to jack up the prices on weekends and offered incentives to win back any customers that they might have lost.

“The Piece of the Pie Rewards” offers customers chances to earn free pizzas, shares of Domino stock, and some pretty crazy, elaborate prizes.


I’m interested to see how this campaign affected their fourth quarter sales and profits. The whole campaign might be seen as a gimmick, but I applaud Domino’s for taking a giant leap in lowering prices, admitting their errors to the public, and giving away a lot of merchandise.  For what seems to be an honest attempt at transparency, Domino’s earns a spot in my Top 10 2016 PR/Marketing Winners list.


2. Dolly Parton


Photo Courtesy of

I’ve been a fan of Dolly Parton’s for years, and that’s saying something because I’m not a big C&W music fan.  But, I’ve always admired Dolly for her spunk, ingenuity, and dedication to making life better for herself and others.

As a former member of my public library’s board of trustees, I was greatly impressed with Dolly’s dedication to literacy through her Imagination Library, where her foundation partners with “any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally” ( to provide monthly books for any child aged birth to age 5 completely free of charge.  There are no income requirements, nor any catches to register. And there are no purchase requirements . . . ever.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dolly Parton stepped up this year to help the victims of the horrific fire that nearly wiped out the area of Tennessee that is home to Dollywood.

Like so many people who have had the pleasure of visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood, my family sadly watched the news reports of the devastation that took place there in November.  And it came to no surprise that Dolly Parton stepped up to help the victims of the fire.

She established a My People Fund, “pledged to provide $1000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County families who lost their homes in the wildfires”, and hosted a 3-hour “Smoky Mountains Rise” telethon that raised over $9M to help the people affected by the fire.

For Dolly Parton’s continued selfless acts of kindness and using her brand and image to help others, she makes my list of PR/Marketing Winners this year.


1. Jeff Cook Real Estate

Jeff Cook Real Estate is a master marketer and public relations pro.

Sometime over the course of the presidential election, I was alerted to the funny billboards this Charleston, S.C. realtor produces.  And when going through my notebook of articles I liked, I decided to catch up with this company to see what was going on.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Cook Real Estate’s website

What I found was this story, as posted on PR Newswire, about the company’s dedication to their community beyond profits.

CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Jeff Cook Real Estate, a leading provider of residential real estate sales in Charleston, SC, has given back to the community by donating to over fifty local schools, youth groups and non-profit organizations.

If you live in Charleston, chances are you’ve heard of Jeff Cook. His innovative marketing, including his catchy billboards and radio ads, have drawn the attention of many home sellers across the tri-county area and with the recent election, the country as a whole. However, most people are unaware of Jeff Cook’s commitment to his community.

Since Cook’s company became independent in early 2015, he has set aside a percentage of every real estate transaction for charitable purposes. In 2016, Cook used this fund to donate to seventeen youth organizations, twenty local schools, six churches and over twenty five nonprofit organizations including the Charleston Animal Society, Water Missions, the American Heart Association and Toys for Tots.

“Our mission at Jeff Cook Real Estate has always been to empower those around us to become a better version of themselves,” stated Cook. “When the company was smaller, my vision was to empower our agents. As we have grown, not only do we want to empower those within the organization, but also to reach out to the surrounding community. Giving back is our way of thanking the community, for without them, our company would not be as successful as it is today.”

The company’s largest contribution this year went towards rebuilding five homes in North Charleston’sParkhill community which experienced heavy flooding during Hurricane Matthew. Not in a flood zone, many residents were without flood insurance and unable to complete the necessary repairs. Cook and his team helped homeowners by clearing out their houses and provided funding for the homes to be properly dried, as well as new drywall, paint and flooring.

According to Cook, the company’s initiatives for 2017 include a focus on organizations that support the local youth and building a home for a family through Habitat for Humanity.

Jeff Cook Real Estate has been No. 1 in sales in Charleston since 2011. The team includes over 100 members. The independent Charleston real estate company helped 800 families buy or sell a home in 2017. To learn more about Jeff Cook Real Estate, call 843-225-2002 or visit

For Jeff Cook Real Estate’s brilliant use of public relations and marketing, combined with their high-level of charitable giving and acts, they make my list of 2016’s PR/Marketing Winners.


After reading some of my Top 10 PR/Marketing Winners of 2016, you might be saying to yourself, “But aren’t some of these PR and marketing campaigns ultimately responsible for boosting sales?  Your initial point was that the campaigns had little or nothing to do with money.”

You’re right.  But realistically, the function of the public relations and marketing team(s) of a company or organization is to put forth a positive image of that company/organization in order to increase the value of the entity.  The team(s) have responsibility to do what is right for all shareholders and stakeholders, as well as having the public’s best interest in mind.

So, ultimately a good PR and/or marketing campaign will benefit both the public and the company/organization, and will also have high moral and ethical standards. And a good PR/marketing campaign should ultimately lead to higher sales, reputation and value of the company/organization.  Otherwise, what would be the point?

I believe that each of my Ten PR & Marketing Winners of 2016 have touched each of those bases on different levels.

This year’s election and talk about bias in news and “fake news” has a lot of people mistrusting journalists and public relations managers in general.  And, “My PR Christmas Wish” series showed that people have a tendency to dislike marketers, especially this time of year.

With fewer and fewer news conglomerates controlling the news we receive,  some feel that we’re actually getting less and less reliable information. This may have led to an overall distrust of mainstream media.

I hope that these 10 PR & Marketing Winners of 2016 has given you a little more hope that things aren’t always as bad as they seem in regards to news.  I hope that I’ve given you a little bit to smile about in these inspiring stories and led you to believe that not all communications pros are just in it for the money or to mislead the public.

I hope that you will continue to follow and share prdoctorit.

This is what you can see in this blog in 2017:

  1. More examples of excellence in PR, marketing and journalism.
  2. More studies of “What went wrong” campaigns/stories so we can all learn from them.
  3. More regular posts.  Hey, I’m on a roll now!


To all of you, I wish you peace, happiness, health and much more in 2017!

Happy New Year!





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