PR Club Honors New England Communications Professionals During 53rd Bell Ringer Awards

For the first time, the PR Club bestows the Platinum Super Bell Award to two winners, Boston Ballet and John Hancock, and recognizes Sharon Merrill Associates Founder with the John J. Molloy Crystal Bell Lifetime Achievement Award

BOSTON--()--The PR Club, the region’s leading communications trade organization, yesterday completed its 53rd annual Bell Ringer Awards. The annual event celebrated the work of public relations and communications professionals from across New England through a virtual event to bring the spirit of an in-person ceremony to viewer’s homes and offices.

The PR Club announced the winners of the Single Item categories via the @PRClubofNE Twitter channel during the workday. In the early evening, the PR Club launched a YouTube premiere event with all the festivities of an in-person celebration. The event kicked off with a signature cocktail demonstration by Louise Mawhinney, owner of Duck Soup of Sudbury. Then Justin Joseph of Boston University College of Communication announced the winners of the campaign and professional awards, including the new COVID-19 categories and the Platinum Super Bell.

This year, for the first time, the PR Club awarded its prestigious Platinum Super Bell Award for the top PR campaign to two winners:

  • Boston Ballet’s COVID-19 Response Campaign: “Boston Ballet’s Digital Pivot: Dance Where You Are.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston Ballet postponed (and eventually canceled) its Spring 2020 season. Boston Ballet decided to pivot and created BB@yourhome, a digital 2020-2021 season. Just halfway through BB@yourhome, Boston Ballet exceeded all subscription goals, reached subscribers in 48 states and 17 countries, and safely brought dancers back in person without any in-studio COVID cases.
  • John Hancock‘s Corporate Culture/Internal Communications Campaign: “Creative Virtual Summer Camp Gets Employees’ Children Learning and Having Fun.” Knowing that many of its employee parents were struggling to find a balance while working from home and providing full-time childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, John Hancock wanted to do more to help. The company created a virtual four-week camp designed to support working parents and help get employee’s children learning, moving, and most importantly, having fun.

Other Platinum Super Bell finalists, as determined by a judging panel of industry experts and veterans, included:

  • C+C with the Washington State Department of Health: “COVID-19 WA Notify Service Campaign”
  • March Communications with Affectiva: “Spoiler Alert: Leading Conversations on the Future of Tech and Leadership”
  • RDW Group with Ageless Innovation: “Supporting Caregivers and Older Adults Through Social Media”

Sharon Merrill, founder, former CEO, and now Chairman Emerita of Sharon Merrill Associates, earned the PR Club’s John J. Molloy Crystal Bell Lifetime Achievement Award. Sharon launched her investor relations firm in 1985, a bold move in a notoriously male-dominated world, and proceeded to win a roster of clients that included most of the largest, high-profile companies in New England. After 34 years, her firm is still widely considered the leading independent agency specializing in investor relations and financial public relations. Sharon is a pioneer, visionary, tough and tender manager, and an inspirational and ethical leader.

The PR Club also presented Alex Villanueva from Ball Consulting Group with the 2021 Striker Award, recognizing the practitioner who demonstrates an early passion for public relations, a dedication to their career, and a superior work ethic. Cait Kahle of Duffy & Shanley won the 2021 Ringer Award, recognizing the mid-level practitioner who has demonstrated steady and significant progress in impacting their agency, company, or practice, and the New England PR community since entering the field of public relations.

John Guilfoil Public Relations was this year’s top winner with 15 awards. Also earning strong acclaim from Bell Ringer judges were Duffy & Shanley (10), March Communications (eight), RDW Group (six), and V2 Communications (six). A full list of all winners is available here, and a full winner’s gallery is located here.

"The strength of the New England PR community is evident in this year's Bell Ringer Awards," said Amanda Fountain, PR Club president and social media director of March Communications. "Seeing the exceptional work of so many companies, nonprofits, and agencies is a bright spot amid such challenging times. We applaud your resilience and contributions to both your organizations and the industry as a whole."

In keeping with tradition, the PR Club will once again donate to the nonprofit organization of our host’s choice. This year, in honor of Justin Joseph, the PR Club will donate $1,000 to Kataluma. This organization welcomes refugee guests in a safe, gracious home with hosts and a supportive community, and mobilizes and equips local residents to welcome new arrivals.

PR Club also thanks the 2021 Bell Ringer Awards sponsors, Talkwalker and Business Wire, for their contributions to this year’s awards ceremony, as well as World Trophies, Charles River Media Group, Lunchpail Productions, Pretty Instant, Meltwater, Boston University College of Communication, D S Simon Media, and JTC Printing for their continued ongoing support of the PR Club.

About PR Club

Founded in 1948, PR Club (formerly the Publicity Club of New England) strives to promote and encourage involvement in the communications industry and specifically the professions of public relations, promotions, and marketing. Get additional information about monthly PR Club programs, social and networking events, the “Bell Ringer” blog, and the Bell Ringer Awards Ceremony at Follow them on Twitter @PRClubofNE.

About the Bell Ringer Awards

The Bell Ringer Awards recognize public relations and communications work that demonstrates excellence in creative planning and superior execution to achieve a high degree of success in reaching predetermined objectives. Open to all New England practitioners, the program, now in its 53rd year, celebrates the extraordinary work of the region’s communications professionals.


PR Club of New England
Amanda Fountain

Release Summary

The PR Club unveiled winners of the 53rd Bell Ringer Awards.



PR Club of New England
Amanda Fountain