Public relations professionals have been honored with induction into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame. William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick, of Hattiesburg, is a founding member of the Pine Belt Chapter of PRAM. He was named director of public relations for the University of Southern Mississippi in 1972 and served in that capacity for the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses until his retirement in 2002. Kirkpatrick is also a leader in many community organizations. He founded the Great Pine Belt Exposition, now a Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership annual event. Kirkpatrick also spearheaded initiatives leading to Hattiesburg’s selection as a pre-Olympic training site in 1996.
He has been recognized with many awards, including the Edward L. Bernays Best of Show from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association and the Innovation Award from the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi. Kirkpatrick was recognized as a Hattiesburg Tourism Volunteer of the Year and was inducted into the USM Alumni Hall of Fame.
Yvonne McGehee Sorge, APR, from the Central Chapter of PRAM in Jackson, is considered a trailblazer for executive women, helping many move into leadership roles. She began her career at an advertising agency in Memphis and then accepted a position with Kennington’s Department Store in Jackson to serve as advertising manager and fashion coordinator. Several years later she joined Gordon Marks & Company as account executive and senior vice president for advertising and public relations. She also opened her own firm, Yvonne Sorge Advertising and Public Relations, and retired in 2009.
Sorge used her expertise to serve the community, including leading the effort for the first International Ballet Competition in the United States, which is still held in Jackson. She has been recognized with a Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America and has been named as a Silver Medalist and Woman of the Year by the American Advertising Federation of Mississippi. A breast cancer survivor, Sorge also helped establish the first Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Chapter in Mississippi.