PRESS RELEASE: Laurel Main Street Receives Pine Belt PRAM Public Image Award




Ashley Rea



Pine Belt Public Relations Association of Mississippi Awards Local Professionals

HATTIESBURG, Miss.(February 25, 2022) — The region’s best public relations professionals were recently honored for their achievements by the Pine Belt Chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. The awards, bestowed annually at Pine Belt PRAM’s awards banquet, recognize outstanding work in the field of public relations and celebrate select individuals for their contributions to the profession. This year’s event was held at the Ogletree House on the University of Southern Mississippi’s campus on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

“Public relations practitioners work tirelessly behind-the-scenes to help their organizations thrive in spite of challenges like a global pandemic,” said Pine Belt PRAM awards chair, Marissa Landon. “These awards allow us to recognize their efforts and the skills required to achieve success, but also reward the technical proficiency in the four-step process that is the foundation of any productive campaign.”

Sanderson Farms was awarded the competition’s highest honor as the judges’ choice recipient for their wage increase campaign, a strategic integrated communications program launched in 2021 when the company awarded hourly employees across-the-board wage increases. The nation’s third largest poultry producer’s corporate communication team also received SPARK Awards from the association for the same campaign and a long-term employee education campaign regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The entry selected as the Judge’s Choice Award winner demonstrated an expert-level understanding of using the public relations process for a successful campaign,” said the judging panel from the Starkville/Mississippi State University chapter of PRAM. “Excellent writing made the reader care about the issue at hand and want to know more about how public relations practitioners tackled the challenge.”

Other SPARK Award recipients were the Office of University Communications at the University of Southern Mississippi for their “Back in Black and Gold” campaign and the City of Laurel for their “Fill the Cup: Combating Compassion Fatigue” campaign. Also among the practitioners honored was Jessica Breazeale, receiving a Certificate of Merit for the Mississippi Health Ambassador Initiative on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health.

In addition to SPARK Awards, which are evaluated amongst the member organizations who submit public relations entries, Pine Belt PRAM recognizes three chapter award winners annually from member nominations. Ashley Rea, 2021 vice president of programs and incoming president for Pine Belt PRAM, received the chapter’s highest honor as she was named the 2021 William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Practitioner of the Year.

“It is always an honor to be recognized among your peers, and this award is certainly no exception,” said Rea, chapter and multi-SPARK Award recipient and manager of communication at Sanderson Farms. “I have been involved in this organization since 2017, and I have learned so much from these talented practitioners in such a short period of time. I look forward to witnessing what the future holds for this inspiring organization and its members.”

Recognizing achievement in the field of public relations for nominees with five or more years of experience, recipients of the William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Practitioner of the Year award have contributed to the success of the chapter, PRAM and the Southern Public Relations Federation, and have realized success in the practice or teaching of public relations. The award was named after PRAM founding member, Bud Kirkpatrick, who also holds the distinction of being the longest continuous serving employee in the history of USM with 45 years of service.

In addition, Southern Miss Alumni Association assistant director for constituent relations, Anthony Palazzolo, was named the recipient of the chapter’s Burlain O’Neal Professional Promise Award, which is presented to an individual who has practiced public relations for less than five years or is a student currently enrolled in a public relations curriculum and showing considerable promise in the field. The final chapter award, the Pine Belt Image Award, was presented to the Laurel Main Street organization for their promotion and downtown revitalization of Laurel, Mississippi.

“Laurel Main Street is honored to be recognized by the Pine Belt chapter of PRAM,” said Keri Rowell, promotion committee chair and board member for Laurel Main Street. “We hope that our dedication to the revitalization of Downtown Laurel can be an inspiration for all to support our community.”

In an effort to promote the practice of public relations, Pine Belt PRAM presents scholarships to deserving students in the public relations field. Alyssa Schiaffino, a junior at USM majoring in public relations and advertising, was awarded the organization’s William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Scholarship. Schiaffino comes highly recommended by her professors who recognize her unwavering drive and passion for the field of publication relations.

“To me, receiving this scholarship is an honor and a steppingstone toward a future career in the public relations field,” said Schiaffino. “This recognition has given me more confidence in the skills I am developing and in my hard work.”

Outgoing Pine Belt PRAM president, Brittney Dykes, closed out her presidential duties at the awards ceremony by presenting Jonah Taylor, 2021 director of social media and website for the chapter, with the organization’s President’s Award. Given annually by the chapter president, this award recognizes service to the association including, in this case, developing innovative and engaging social media content and launching a new website for the organization.

During the awards ceremony, the chapter’s 2022 board of directors were sworn in to the association by current PRAM president, Amanda Parker, public relations specialist at Singing River Electric. Board members are as follows: Ashley Rea, president; Brittney Dykes, interim vice president of programs, past president and state board representative; Marissa Landon, vice president of membership; Matt Martin, treasurer; Kat Romero, APR, director of communications; Shelby York, director of social media and website; Anthony Palazzolo, scholarship and student affairs chair; April Jordan, community action chair; Vanessa Henson, awards chair; Jessica Breazeale, APR, professional development chair; and Caitlin Bradshaw, secretary and treasurer understudy.

Pine Belt PRAM is an affiliate of the statewide Public Relations Association of Mississippi, serving practitioners and students in the Hattiesburg-Laurel area with professional development opportunities aimed at enhancing and growing individual skill sets, contributing to the expanding science of public relations policies and practices. Chapter meetings are held virtually on the third Tuesday of each month. Visit for more information.

PRESS RELEASE: Laurel Main Street and First State Bank’s Second Laurel Leap Day

Susan Ladd
Laurel Main Street
(601) 433-3255

3-on-3 Basketball Tournament to be Held in Downtown Laurel

Laurel Main Street and First State Bank’s Second Laurel Leap Day

Laurel, MS––February 21, 2022–– Laurel Main Street and First State Bank will host Laurel’s only 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Laurel Leap Day. The event will take place in the parking lot on Front Street from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M on Saturday, March 5th.

Spectators can expect food vendors, beer service, and a live DJ while cheering on their favorite team. This event is free to attend. Watch Laurel Main Street’s social media for possible weather contingency plans.

The tournament is double elimination, and teams may have no more than 5 players. There is a $50 entry fee per team and cash prizes will be given at the end of the tournament. 1st place will win $500, 2nd place $200, and 3rd place $100.

All players must be 18 or older, and players under 21 must submit a consent form signed by their legal guardian. The tournament is open to all types of teams — male, female, and coed.

Along with the tournament, players can enter the dunk competition and the 3-point shootout. Entry fees are $10 for each competition, or $5 for the kids’ 3-point shootout.

There will be a mandatory Team Captain meeting on Monday 2/28/22 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. at the Laurel Train Depot. Register today at!

Founded in 2007, Laurel Main Street is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Laurel, MS through preservation and economic growth. To learn more about Laurel Main Street, please visit

PRESS RELEASE: Magnolia State Bank’s 10th Chili Cook-Off


Susan Ladd
Laurel Main Street
(601) 433-3255


2022’s Hottest Event: Chili Cook-Off’s 10th Anniversary

Magnolia State Bank’s 10th Chili Cook-Off–Laurel Main Street’s First Event of the Year


Laurel, MS––February 2, 2022–– Laurel Main Street and Magnolia State Bank proudly present the 10th Annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off, to be held on Saturday, February 12th, 11AM-3PM.


Chili Cook-Off is back after 2021’s hiatus and will be bigger and better than ever! Tickets are for sale online or on-site. The options are $15 for all-you-can-taste or $30 for all-you-can-eat and a handmade pottery bowl by Jeremy Brooke. The $30 option is limited, so act fast!


In addition to chili, attendees can expect beer service, music, an opportunity to vote on ‘People’s Choice’, and plenty to enjoy in Downtown Laurel after the event.


Do you want to be a surprise judge? Become an individual or family member of Laurel Main Street for a chance to be the judge of honor this year. The team entry deadline and the announcement of the surprise judge will be Monday, February 7th.


This event is family-friendly and rain-or-shine. However, Laurel Main Street asks you to please leave your furry friends at home. Kids under 12 eat free! No worries if your child doesn’t like chili, they can grab a free hot dog from the Magnolia State Bank hospitality tent.


Founded in 2007, Laurel Main Street is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Laurel, Miss., through preservation and economic growth. To learn more about Laurel Main Street, become a member, and to get tickets for Chili Cook-Off, please visit

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PRESS RELEASE: The Comeback of Laurel Main Street’s Downtown Countdown


Susan Ladd
Laurel Main Street
(601) 433-3255


Laurel, MS––December 1, 2021–– Laurel Main Street and BancorpSouth Bank are proud to announce the return of Downtown Countdown after last year’s cancellation in caution of COVID-19.

On New Year’s Eve, starting at 5:00 PM, event-goers can expect food trucks, beer and champagne service, live entertainment, and Countdown Kids, a fun-filled kids area sponsored by Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar.

The stage at the intersection of N Magnolia Street and Central Avenue, will feature live entertainment from 5:00 PM to midnight, with two Rhinestone Pinecone drops and Firework shows. The kids drop is at 8:00 PM, and the main drop will be at midnight with a performance from Sistaz with Soul.

During the festivities, many shops and eateries will be open for extended hours. Be sure to not miss the fashion show by Elegant Evenings in front of their shop on Oak Street from 7-8PM.

This event is free to attend and family-friendly. Laurel Main Street encourages event-goers to leave their furry friends at home and maintain CDC guidelines to protect the community from COVID-19.

Founded in 2007, Laurel Main Street is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Laurel, Miss., through preservation and economic growth. To learn more about Laurel Main Street and find more information on Downtown Countdown, please visit

Wine Down April and May 2021

Spring is here. and summer is fast approaching, and there is honestly nothing better to do on a warm night in Laurel, Mississippi than to stroll through downtown enjoying a glass of wine.

We have made that so easy with our famous Wine Down events! Once a month, downtown Laurel comes alive at night to host this event.

After purchasing your tumbler, participating stores show you our famous southern hospitality by offering you a pour of a different wine each month. This also gives you a chance to shop the stores and see what our little town has to offer!

Need to Know Info:

-We will only be serving one pour per person at each participating location to people over the age of 21. Remember your ID’s, because you will need them! They will also only be poured into Wine Down tumblers, which change every month!

-This is a “Sip and Stroll” event! Our amazing downtown area follows the “to-go ordinance”, so feel free to walk around with your tumblers, but we DO NOT allow outside beverages.

-Bars and restaurants can serve you to-go drinks during this event if they choose, but it must be purchased inside the location and given in a to-go cup! Wine tumblers are for the event use only!

-Tickets and tumblers will be available for purchase for $15 from the Laurel Main Street tent! If you are purchasing on site, it will be cash only!

-We suggest that you park on the outskirts of Downtown Laurel for the event! It will be busy, so get there early!

-Kids are welcome! This is a family friendly event, but please remember that children must remain supervised at all times!

-Don’t drink wine? No worries! Alongside our restaurants and bars where you can purchases any type of drink of your choosing, stores like Scotsman General Store and Sullivan’s carry an assortment of sodas. If you need a            night-time coffee fix, Lee’s Coffee and Tea and Bird Dog Cafe are open as well. Laurel has something for everyone to enjoy during this event!

-While our mask mandates are lifted, we do ask that you practice COVID safety measures. Remember to practice social distancing when possible, and if you are experiencing symptoms, please stay at home.

Help us keep our town safe. Wash, sanitize, protect, distance, and clean.

Our upcoming dates for this event are April 23rd and May 21st, and we are so excited to be able to provide this event for locals and visitors alike! Life seems like it is slowly but surely returning to normal, and events such as these provide a space to have fun and participate in our community!

Hope to see y’all there, rain or shine!