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By Dan Adkins

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The award will be presented Thursday, Oct. 19, during a dinner prior to a new public relations lecture series honoring James Bowling. Harold Burson, named "the century's most influential PR figure," will deliver the lecture at 8 p.m. Thursday in the William T. Young Library auditorium.

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Oct. 18, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) – The University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications today named Thomas L. “Tommy” Preston the first recipient of UK’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Relations.  Preston is chief executive officer of Preston Global and founder and immediate past chairman of The Preston Group Inc.

The award, sponsored by the UK School of Journalism Alumni Association, will be presented Thursday, Oct. 19, during a dinner prior to a new public relations lecture series honoring James Bowling, a longtime UK friend and supporter who died in 1997.  Harold Burson, founder and chairman of the world’s largest public relations firm, is the first speaker in the James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence Lecture Series.   The lecture, at 8 p.m. Thursday in the William T. Young Library auditorium, is free and open to the public.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given annually to an individual who has achieved success in the field of public relations during his/her career.  The person must be a native Kentuckian or must have spent a large part of their professional career in the commonwealth.  Retired Senator Wendell Ford will present the award to Preston.

A native of Carrollton, Ky., Preston opened a one-person PR office in Lexington in 1968.  From that point, The Preston Group grew into a multi-disciplined firm attracting national and international organizations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dow Corning, the U.S. Selective Service, Occidental Petroleum and the eventual majority whip of the U.S. Senate and former governor, Wendell Ford.  Preston served four years as Gov. Ford’s special assistant, press secretary and commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Information.

In the mid-1980s, Preston developed a model for public relations contingency planning and response against terrorism and workplace violence.   He formed Preston Global in 1996 to focus exclusively on aggressively defiant crises facing corporations, institutions and individuals.  Today, his firm provides an unusual blend of disciplines, merging reputation and management with security, intelligence gathering and analysis with facilities integrity and media education/training with litigation abatement.

A UK Fellow with a journalism degree from UK, Preston is the only Kentuckian to be elected to the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America.  He has received more than 100 state and national communication awards from organizations including the International Film Festival, the International Film and TV Festival of New York, the Gold Camera, the U.S. Industrial Film Festival, PRSA, IABC, the Kentucky Press Association and National Editorial Association.

“Tommy Preston has shown meritorious leadership capabilities during his long and distinguished career,” said Jack Guthrie, president of the Journalism Alumni Association.  “Creating a firm that can claim top-notch crisis management capabilities and be named one of the top 12 strategic counseling firms in America by Inside PR is no small achievement.”

The James C. Bowling Executive-In-Residence Lecture Series is being funded with a $100,000 endowment grant from Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd, out of his admiration for Bowling.  UK’s Journalism Alumni Association is also raising an additional $100,000 from alumni and friends of the university who knew Bowling. The series will bring a nationally recognized public relations professional to UK’s campus each year and a scholarship in Bowling’s name will be presented annually to a senior planning a career in public relations or public affairs.

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