Five public relations professionals were recently inducted into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame. Neal W. Cirlot (posthumously) of Diamondhead retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi where he worked as the public relations director for 27 years. In his earlier career, he served in the Coast Guard from 1942-1943 and U.S. Navy from 1943-1945.
Betsie Gambel of New Orleans, La., has more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of public relations. She founded her public relations agency, Gambel Communications, in 2009 and has seen the business grow tremendously in just four years. She has been recognized by New Orleans CityBusiness as a “Woman of the Year” and named a “Role Model” by both the YWCA and the Young Leadership Council. She also was recognized as a New Orleans Magazine 2013 Woman of Achievement.
Carol A. Mann, of Mobile, Ala. Mann is an accredited public relations professional and has been a member of SPRF and PRCA since 1987. She is a past president of SPRF, PRCA and the PRCA-Mobile Chapter. She is a recipient of the SPRF Professional Achievement Award and the PRCA Philip R. Forrest Jr. Practitioner of the Year Award. Last year, she received PRCA’s Grover C. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award, the organization’s highest award honoring distinguished service to the profession and to PRCA.
Charles “Chuck” Saucier (posthumously) of Alexandria, La., served as president of SPRF in 1994, is a founding member of the PRAL Central Chapter and mentored many future public relations practitioners throughout his career. During his 20-year military career, he was a public affairs officer in the Air Force before beginning a second 20-year career in higher education at Louisiana State University in Alexandria. He volunteered for many community organizations and served in every leadership role for PRAL Central and SPRF. He passed away after an 11-month battle with cancer in 2011.
John Wittig of Hoover, Ala., has been a valued member of the Department of Communications Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham since 1981. He also directs the department’s public relations program. He is an acclaimed scholar, lecturer and author who has published numerous books and journal articles in the fields of communication studies and public relations. Wittig has served on a multitude of university committees and received numerous awards for his work, including the Practitioner of the Year Award by PRCA and the Communications Award by the Birmingham Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. In 1990, the student chapter of PRCA was renamed as the John W. Wittig Chapter in recognition of his leadership. He earned his APR in 1991. During his tenure at UAB, the school’s chapter of PRCA/PRSSA has won PRCA’s Alabama Student Chapter of the Year more than 20 times in the last 25 years.