Otis Sanford, Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, has been selected by the Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as its 2018 Communicator of the Year.
The organization will honor him at its monthly luncheon Thursday, Jan. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the University Club.
“I am so humbled to be recognized as the PRSA Memphis Chapter’s 2018 Communicator of the Year,” said Sanford. “This is quite a surprise and an honor to receive such a prestigious award.”
Sanford, a Mississippi native and 1975 graduate of the University of Mississippi, began his professional journalism career at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. He joined The Commercial Appeal in 1977 and was part of the reporting team that covered the 1977 death of Elvis Presley, rising through the newsroom to become managing editor and editor of opinions and editorials, before moving into academia in 2011.
Sanford now serves as the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics. Sanford also writes a weekly political column for the Daily Memphian online news site and serves as political analyst and commentator for WATN-TV Local 24 News.
This will be the 42nd year that the Memphis Chapter of PRSA will honor its Communicator of the Year. The award is given to a member of the community who exhibits the ability to communicate effectively to general or specific publics; has public visibility and is a respected member of the community, who invests his or her time and talent conveying a specific message.
“In choosing Sanford, PRSA Memphis recognizes his ability as a communicator to raise public awareness concerning the challenges that have affected Memphis over the last 40 years,” said Sarah Sherlock, president of the Memphis Chapter of PRSA.
A nationally recognized speaker on journalism ethics, education, and the First Amendment, Sanford is also the recipient of the Silver Em Award from his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and the annual print journalism award at the University of Memphis was named in his honor. He is past president of the Associated Press Media Editors and past board chairman of the Mid-America Press Institute. In 2014, he was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame.
The Communicator of the Year award was established in 1976 with Bud Dudley, founder of the Liberty Bowl, its first recipient. The list of honorees includes, Ron Terry, Cecil Humphreys, Fred P. Gattas, Olin Morris, D’Army Bailey, Judith Drescher, Fred Jones, Gerry House, Dr. Scott Morris, Arnold Perl, Linn Sitler, W.W. Herenton, John Calipari, Beverly Robertson, Bob Loeb, Toney Armstrong, Dr. Todd Richardson, PhD, and Mauricio Calvo.
Tickets to the luncheon are free for PRSA members, $25 for non-members, and $15 for students. For more information or to register for the award luncheon visit: www.prsamemphis.org.