Update: Celebrating our Music City Gold Pen Award winners

A message from IABC Nashville President Kerry Burke:

As you may be aware, we sadly had to postpone our virtual Music City Gold Pen Awards ceremony last week due to cyber security issues. This was an extremely unfortunate occurrence, and does not reflect our organization, nor does it take away from the accomplishments of the award winners. I’m proud of our board’s quick response in getting out timely communication and outreach, and we are eager to move forward and celebrate Music City’s top communicators.

To properly honor the outstanding accomplishments of our award winners, we are shifting our virtual celebration from a live Zoom event to a social media campaign Monday, September 20. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as we share individual posts recognizing our community’s award-winning communicators and their entries. Please join us in celebrating our winners by liking, commenting, and sharing with your networks. These winners deserve all the praise in the world, so help let’s spread the word and cheer them on!

As members of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), an organization with an emphasis on learning, we would like to turn our misfortune into a learning and teaching opportunity. We will focus our next professional development event on video conferencing, cybersecurity, and ways to keep your presentations and organizations safe. We will also hear from experts in these fields. Please keep an eye out for details coming soon.

I’ll end by touching on one of the many lessons I am taking away from this experience – that when unexpected challenges arise, people can show up in the kindest ways. Our chapter leadership has received many messages and phone calls over the past few days – not criticizing or blaming, but offering support, compassion, and encouragement. This is a testament to our IABC organization and the support we have for one another in good times and in bad.

Thank you to our communications community for your understanding, kindness, and support. We look forward to “seeing” you soon.


2021 Music City Gold Pen Award Recap

music city gold pen awards

Congratulations to our 2021 Music City Gold Pen Awards Winners!


IABC Nashville is proud to recognize the professional achievements of these individuals and organizations. We look forward to celebrating their work together in the coming months. Please join us in honoring these groups:

Award of Merit Winners:

  • REED Public Relations, Chabad of Nashville Presents “An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Ben Stern”
  • David Jon Walker on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Holiday Social Media Campaign 2020
  • David Jon Walker on behalf of The Conference of National Black Churches, Vote Georgia Campaign (COVID-19 Category)
  • Paul Ladd on behalf of World Christian Broadcasting, Picasso at the Frist
  • Heather Hunter & Julie Davis on behalf of Brookdale Senior Living, Pandemic CEO Visibility Campaign
  • David Jon Walker on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Holiday Magazine 2020
  • David Jon Walker, Black COVID Crisis Campaign
  • David Jon Walker on behalf of Biden x Design, The Truth Shall Restore Dignity
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of The Ohio State University College of Nursing Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women Children and Youth, Season of Gratitude
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of The Parthenon Chapter of The Links Incorporated with Parthenon Links, Spooktastic Weekend of Treats


Award of Excellence Winners:

  • David Jon Walker on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Holiday Magazine 2020 (COVID-19 Category)
  • Heather Hunter & Julie Davis with Brookdale Senior Living, How the Nation’s Largest Senior Living Company Responded to the Global Pandemic
  • REED Public Relations, Campbell Street Services Crisis Communications – COVID-19 Category
  • REED Public Relations, Campbell Street Services Crisis Communications
  • REED Public Relations, Waddell & Associates Speaks to National Audience with Pandemic-Era Financial Advice
  • REED Public Relations, Yelp Boosts Nashville’s Small Business Community
  • Tameka Winston on behalf of the Nashville ATHENA Awards Program, 2021 Awards Program
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Magazine October Issue (COVID 19 Category)
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Magazine September Issue
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Magazine October Issue
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Magazine Veterans Issue
  • David Jon Walker on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Rotary District 6760 Holiday Social Media Campaign 2020 (COVID-19 Category)
  • Genma Holmes with The Ohio State University, International Women’s Day
  • Genma Holmes on behalf of District 6760 of Rotary International, Salute to Veterans
  • REED Public Relations, REED PR Dials Up Giving Initiatives with COVID-19 Hotline


Special thanks to our partner IABC chapters for judging our awards entries:

  • IABC Atlanta
  • IABC Central Oklahoma
  • IABC Dallas
  • IABC Houston
  • IABC South Carolina
  • IABC Southern Region


Our 2021 Music City Gold Pen Awards are sponsored by:


Write to Win: 2021 Edition

Secrets to Writing Award Submissions That Get You Recognized 

It’s officially awards season and if you’re among those talented, savvy communicators who’s put in the time and yielded award-winning results, you should be recognized for it…and it starts with your award submission. 

Believe it or not, sometimes the difference between a winner and just another award entry isn’t the quality of the project, but the quality of the entry itself. 

That can lead to all sorts of doubts. We get it, and we’re here to help you out. We hosted a rockstar panel of judges, past winners, participants and experts who shared the benefits of entering (and winning!) a Music City Gold Pen Award, key “dos and don’ts” to create a winning entry and how to tell a compelling story without ditching the analytics. They also offered an inside look at awards entries from a judge’s perspective.

Missed the session? Download our 8 Most Important Takeaways or click below to watch the recording on-demand. Don’t forget to submit your MCPGA application by June 24!

For more information, visit our Awards page >>

Thank you to our panelists:


April Professional Development

Digital Marketing Unplugged: Embracing New Strategies in a New Normal

Join our panel of experts for a discussion on making the shift to embrace new online data, and reach our audience in a compelling way.

About this Event
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the speed at which many brands and companies are “going digital.” There’s a new, heavy reliance on technology to stay connected, and the challenge for us as marketers and communicators is to use this new reliance to our advantage.

The data is out there and our panel of expert digital marketers are here to share some of the best ways to navigate through it all, apply it to winning strategies, and embrace our new normal.

You’ll learn:

  • Effective email marketing that catches people’s time and attention
  • Rapid fire social media content strategies and hacks
  • SEO & data analytics to stay ahead of Google trends

About the Panelists:

 Digital Marketing Unplugged: Embracing New Strategies in a New Normal image

Christopher Lester

Christopher Lester is the founder of C4ward Strategies in Nashville, TN where he helps companies align their digital brand experience across the sales process. He’s passionate about the consumer and crafting marketing that feels more human. He’s a lover of the underdog, hot dogs, and a sweet dog named Rosie.

Christopher spent the last couple of decades geeking out about all things digital with a special appreciation for email marketing. He’s helped brands like Sylvan Learning Centers, The Nashville Predators, Public Library of Science, Niche Media and the YMCA tell their story in the digital space and craft emails that people want to read. He served as the Vice President of Sales at Emma Email Marketing where he was responsible for strategic brand growth, new customer acquisition and in-market development.

In 2020, mid-pandemic, Christopher launched an apparel line called Clifton+Leopold. Clifton+Leopold was born from his lifelong appreciation of classic men’s accessories and the desire to make them more diverse and reflective of the world today. With his eclectic background and a love of style influenced by ‘80s pop musicians, Christopher is leading a team of artisans handcrafting textiles with a cerebral approach. www.CliftonandLeopold.com


 Digital Marketing Unplugged: Embracing New Strategies in a New Normal image

Isaac Ray Norris

Isaac is a digital native who specializes in cross-platform storytelling, digital marketing, and social advertising. After a career in publishing and ad agency life, he founded Norris Media—a boutique digital marketing consulting and social media agency. Outside of his 9-to-5, he’s also a writer and journalist who covers stories across the Southeast in culture, food, style, and more.






 Digital Marketing Unplugged: Embracing New Strategies in a New Normal image

Knight Stivender

Knight Stivender has 20-plus years of experience using data and analytics to help businesses increase market share and build engagement and loyalty among stakeholders. As director of integrated marketing and data analytics for MP&F, she consults on accounts with a need for data-based marketing strategy – including digital advertising, email marketing, experiential marketing, and SEO/content strategy. She has led account teams for ADS Security, Log Still Distillery, United Way of Middle Tennessee, Solstice Senior Living, Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to her role at MP&F, Knight was part of The Tennessean news team deemed a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Nashville floods in 2010. She was awarded the Gannett company’s Innovator of the Year recognition in 2015 for her work to integrate content, communities and live events to help build a new generation of news consumers. Knight graduated from the University of Tennessee and was named Alumna of the Year in 2016.




$5 for IABC Members and $15 for non-members. Events are free for current students.

In an effort to continue to provide quality, engaging virtual professional development programming each month, our member rate for monthly events is increasing to $5. This will grant you exclusive access to the recorded presentation after the event. We recognize the last year has been trying for many of our members and friends, and this increase may be unattainable for some. If you feel this cost will prevent you from participating in our professional development events, please contact us. We appreciate your commitment to our chapter during the last year as we transitioned to a virtual environment and we look forward to returning to in-person events as soon as we are able.

IABC Nashville’s Vice President at Large Genma Stringer Holmes earns Awards of Excellence in IABC Atlanta Golden Flame Awards

Genma Stringer Holmes of GSH Media and Consulting has earned a prestigious Excellence Flame Award in the IABC Atlanta 2020 Golden Flame communications recognition program. The Cerese D June and August Digital Cover Issues and Stories won in the Publication Category. 


The IABC Atlanta Golden Flame awards program recognizes exceptional examples of advertising, marketing and communication programs as judged by an international panel of peer-professionals. This year, IABC Atlanta awarded thirty-two gold, four silver, sixteen bronze and three Best in Show awards for business communication excellence. 


“This year has been a difficult one for the communications industry as it has for all other industries,” said Eric Berrios, IABC Atlanta VP of Professional Recognition. “It’s been a privilege to watch how communicators have adjusted to the challenges thrown at them in 2020. The winning entries represent the best of Atlanta communications this year. I am proud of these communicators, their exceptional work and our profession.” 


Entries are scored on their own merit, not judged against one another. The awards criteria are based on IABC’s Global Seven-Point Scale of Excellence. Categories include internal communications, social media programs, websites, audio/visual, publications, writing, government relations, and marketing, advertising, and brand communications. A complete list of the IABC Atlanta 2020 Golden Flame award winners can be found at https://atlanta.iabc.com/2020-award-winners/


About IABC Atlanta

IABC Atlanta is the premiere professional communications association that provides professional development, networking, and best practices for a broad range of communication professionals at all career levels. With membership across internal and external communications, as well as executive, marketing and PR sectors, the association provides unique networking events and learning opportunities for communication professionals to advance their careers and build meaningful connections within the Atlanta community. More information about the organization is available at  www.atlanta.iabc.com


About Genma Stringer Holmes and GSH Media 

Genma Stringer Holmes is a recognized award-winning Serial Entrepreneur, Media Influencer, and Editor-in-Chief. She is IABC Nashville’s 2020 Inaugural Hall of Fame Recipient. She has won several awards from the International Association of Business Communicators including the IABC Southern Region’s Silver Quills, IABC Atlanta’s Golden Flames, and IABC Nashville’s Music City Gold Pens for projects as diverse as editorial work for print and digital publications, digital communication branding, and social media management and research. She is the owner of Holmes Pest Control, Executive Producer of Living Your Best Life Radio, and the Editor-in-Chief of GSH Media. Genma has a heart for non-profits and community engagement. She has served on IABC’s boards and committees locally, regionally, and internationally.


About Cerese D

Quickly becoming one of the most sought-after jewelry brands nationwide. Cerese D releases new and exciting designs of jewelry every month. With a passion for color, texture and balance, the founder, Cerese Dolman, strives to provide new fashion-forward designs without compromise.

The deeply admired luxury jewelry brand continues to allure the world with its stylish artistic array of jewelry. Cerese D Jewelry is the new luxury brand that is authentic and unconventional. A style that expresses new forms of elegance, presenting itself as modern and different. The strong identity of the Cerese D Jewelry brand has evolved over the years without ever forgetting its roots. 


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