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June 10, 2016

PRSA Awards United States Air Force Public Affairs the 2016 Best of Silver Anvil

NEW YORK, June 10, 2016 – After U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and his two friends thwarted a terrorist attack while on a train in Europe, the United States Air Force Public Affairs Directorate rapidly and effectively executed a crisis communication program. Last evening the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) presented the Air Force with its Best of Silver Anvil for its impeccable communication strategy and execution while in the global spotlight.
The campaign was selected as the best of the campaigns designated as finalists for the prestigious Silver Anvil Award. The awards were presented last evening at the PRSA 2016 Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony at the AXA Equitable Building in New York, where Brigadier General Kathleen A. Cook, Director of Air Force Public Affairs, accepted the award.
“When Airman 1st Class Stone and his friends Alek Skarlato and Anthony Sadler heroically led the charge to not only overtake a heavily armed terrorist, but also provide life-saving first aid to wounded passengers, people around the globe rightfully wanted to thank, recognize and commend them for their brave actions,” said James J. Roop, APR, Fellow PRSA, chair of PRSA’s Honors and Awards Committee. “The Air Force, through a strategic crisis communications campaign, capitalized on the opportunity to strengthen the Air Force’s image with the public while simultaneously helping Stone balance his new fame with his personal recovery.”
According to the Air Force’s winning entry, following the incident the Air Force Public Affairs vetted more than 50 requests for Stone’s first national interview. Through swift and comprehensive research, Public Affairs granted interviews to The New York Times for print and The Jimmy Kimmel Show on broadcast television. It was of utmost importance to the Air Force that all accounts were accurate and precise. To aid in Airman 1st Class Stone’s recovery, the group arranged for Stone’s family to accompany him in Europe.
From the outset of the campaign, Air Force Public Affairs focused on the following objectives:
  • Taking care of Airman 1st Class Stone mentally and physically;
  • Highlighting the exceptional training and core values of Airmen;
  • Shaping media coverage to focus on the heroic actions of an American Airman; and
  • Inspiring young people to consider Air Force service. 
After the initial interviews, within six weeks of returning to the United States Stone participated in interviews with 31 television, print and internet outlets.

Feedback on Stone and the subsequent media appearances was overwhelmingly positive. According to a sentiment analysis conducted by Air Force Public Affairs, 92 percent of individuals following Stone’s story via social media expressed a positive sentiment, contributing to a worldwide positive impression of the United States Air Force.
Overall analytics revealed publication of more than 18,000 articles in the United States and more than 6,600 articles published in more than 75 countries worldwide. Throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, Public Affairs continued to vet countless civic and media engagements on Stone’s behalf, culminating with his invitation and attendance of the President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address. Air Force Public Affairs continues to use the vast array of media and civic contacts garnered from the Stone incident to maximize reach and exposure of other high-level Air Force stories.
About the Public Relations Society of America

PRSA is the largest professional organization serving the U.S. public relations community. With a mission to “advance the profession and the professional,” PRSA provides news and information, thought leadership, continuing education and networking opportunities; sets standards of professional excellence and ethical conduct; and advocates for the business value of public relations and greater diversity among public relations professionals. Based in New York, PRSA comprises 110 local Chapters; 14 Professional Interest Sections that focus on specific industries and practice areas; and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which is active at more than 340 colleges and universities.
Laurent Lawrence
phone: 212.460.1452
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