Donna Ritchey, vice chairman and chief strategy officer of GodwinGroup, has been inducted into to the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame identifies leaders in the public relations industry deserving recognition for their extraordinary achievements, accomplishments and contributions to their organizations, communities and the public relations profession. Hall of Fame inductees are current and former Southern public relations practitioners or educators who have brought honor to the field and chosen by a panel of distinguished public relations professionals.
The induction took place at the Southern Public Relations Federation’s 2018 annual conference held in New Orleans.
Considered one of the Southeast’s premier strategists in issues management, crisis communication and public relations marketing, Ritchey has worked with a multitude of Mississippi companies and agencies during her career.
She began her career as a hospital spokesperson and joined GodwinGroup as a PR assistant in 1989. Throughout her 30-year tenure at GodwinGroup, she accepted increasingly responsible roles including serving environmental affairs coordinator supporting clients in environmental permitting, public policy and litigation matters, and she later served as vice president and director of public relations. As senior vice president, she also led GodwinGroup’s research division.
Today she serves as vice chairman and chief strategy officer of the 81-year-old, privately-held communications firm—the oldest firm in the South. She is a principal agency partner and serves on its eight-member executive committee. She became an agency shareholder in 1995.
Ritchey’s experience in crisis communications, reputation management and issues management is unsurpassed. Her projects have included such wide-ranging issues as major litigation, workplace deaths, bomb threats, oil spills and other environmental disasters. Her cell phone number is on speed dial for major law firms, CEOs, bank boards, oil company rapid response teams and PR directors from Texas to Florida. She also provides strategic planning for marketing clients needing message development and audience profiling. She has built a national reputation working with such corporations as State Farm, BP America, Georgia-Pacific, Pfizer, DuPont, Cooperative Energy, Trustmark, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Chevron, and many more. More than 1,000 people from across the southeast have completed media training seminars led by Ritchey.
Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America and the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF), she has been named by SPRF as a “Senior Practitioner.” In 2002, the Mississippi Business Journal named her as one of the Top 50 Business Women in Mississippi. The publication also recognized her as one of Mississippi’s Top 40 Under 40 and as a finalist for the title of “Business Woman of the Year” in 2003.
Ritchey received a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1987. She was inducted into USM School of Mass Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009 and serves on the advisory boards for the USM and Jackson State University mass communication schools.
Her work also includes serving on boards for Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi, Excel by 5 and many more. She provides countless hours of pro bono work for not-for-profit organizations across the state.
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