Southwestern Advantage was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America – Nashville Chapter at the 26thAnnual Parthenon Awards in Nashville in two areas. The Parthenon Awards recognize Middle Tennessee’s public relations practitioners and the quality and results of their work throughout the previous year.
The first award was for the Share the Advantage program in the Public Service category. Taking home the top prize was no easy task, as this particular category contains the best of programs and campaigns aimed to address issues related to serving particular social needs in the community.
The Share the Advantage program concept was conceived by Henry Bedford after watching the documentary “Waiting for Superman” about the state of the education system in the U.S. Bedford was moved to take action to make a difference.
Since the Southwestern Advantage products are educational (a learning system including reference books, children’s books, CD-ROMs and a subscription website), Bedford tasked the marketing and communications team with putting together a program to reach the youth who did not have direct access to the learning products. The majority of the children he wanted to reach either can not afford the products because of their family's low income level or the independent dealers do not sell in their neighborhoods for safety reasons. These are the children who need these types of products the most. Through his vision, a give-away program for the subscription website to organizations who can work with at-risk youth was put together. In other words, for every one purchased, Southwestern Advantage would donate one.
This program was quickly expanded to include all other service projects so as to include other product donations and volunteer hours, but still focus on youth-centric services. Projects have ranged from an over $1 million donation and appearance on the TODAY Show to nearly 600 college students participating in a massive “Share the Advantage” three day project in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The second form of recognition was the 2012 Hercules Award. This year's recipient was Trey Campbell, Director of Communications with Southwestern Advantage. The award honors “a career of accomplishment in the PR field.” It is based on professional work results, demonstrated ethical practices, proven leadership skills, contribution to the PRSA chapter and community involvement. This is the PRSA-Nashville version of a “lifetime achievement” award.
The awards dinner was held at Marathon Music Works and hosted by Samantha Stephens, Entertainment Reporter and On-Air Personality for the CMT Radio Network. Since 2003, Southwestern Advantage has won 18 awards from PRSA-Nashville for excellence in communications.