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Paul HicksThe top communicator for the National Football League (NFL) will be the featured speaker at UT’s PR Day, October 19 at the UT Conference Center on Henley Street.

Paul Hicks, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, will deliver the Ackermann PR Keynote Lecture at the event. Hicks was hired to manage the football league’s communications in 2010, and previously spent eight years as a regional CEO of the Ogilvy public relations firm.

PR Day is a biennial event that, for more than thirty years, has provided public relations professionals and students with the opportunity to develop their skills and connect with colleagues in Knoxville and the Southeast.

The event is hosted by the UT College of Communication and Information’s School of Advertising and Public Relations and by the student and professional chapters of the Public Relations Society of America.

The theme of this year’s conference is “21st Century Public Relations: PRogression Among our Profession.”

The first panel discussion is set for 9:00 a.m. The topic is “Branding the Corporate Image” and will feature the following panelists:

  • Christopher Harvin, founding partner of Sanitas International, a global strategic communication firm in Washington, DC
  • Cindy Dupree, director of public relations for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
  • Mark McNeely, senior partner of the McNeely Pigott & Fox public relations firm in Nashville, TN
  • Greg Stroud, vice president of HGTV’s Integration Team
  • Penny Behling, founder of Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing of Knoxville, which produces and manages dragon boat festivals in Tennessee and the Southeast.

The second panel discussion is set for 10:30 a.m. and the topic is “Entertainment and Engagement.” Panelists include:

  • Jimmy Buckner of The Scarecrow Foundation, a group of Knoxville civic leaders devoted to ending hunger in America
  • Jeff Cuellar of AC Entertainment, the company that sponsors the Bonnaroo Music Festival among other events
  • Hubert Smith, radio host at WUTK 90.3 FM and lecturer in UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media
  • Hunter Baddour and Jared Karnes of Allegiant Athletic Agency.

Hicks will deliver the keynote address during lunch.

The event is open to the general public. Anyone who would like to know more about the field of public relations is encouraged to attend. Tickets to the conference are $85 for PRSA members and $95 for the general public. Students can attend for $25.

Sponsors include Ackermann PR; The Scarecrow Foundation; the integrated marketing communications master’s degree program at West Virginia University; East Tennessee Children’s Hospital; Mary Beth West Consulting LLC; the UT Risk, Health, and Crisis Communication Research Unit; McGhee Tyson Airport; and Akins Crisp Public Strategies.

For more information or to register, visit the PR Day website.

C O N T A C T :

Lisa Fall (865-216-2507,

Charles Primm (865-974-5180,