The Importance of Our Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award

I had the wonderful experience of interviewing our four Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award finalists last year. Simone Bunsen, marketing manager, Chief Executive Group, told me about the time they made a small mistake in a personalized email. Did they fret? No. Instead, they sent out a corrected version, apologized and offered $100 off registration to an upcoming event. “And surprisingly,” she said, “we did really well on that email! I think the lesson is to own up to any automation or marketing mistakes. It gives your brand an opportunity to show its human side.”

Justin Scace, associate content manager, Simplify Compliance, told me about hosting their podcast (EHS on Tap), relying more on analytics, writing stories and being on Jeopardy, where he lost in the last round. “…the final question was a real tough one, and while I can’t remember the exact phrasing, I remember the answer (and will never forget it!): Namibia.”

And Jenn Ocampo, marketing director, Cynopsis (Access Intelligence), corresponded with me proudly yet modestly about all her accomplishments, including their Television Upfront/Digital NewFronts season. It’s an online resource and destination for agencies and brands. And it won first place in the SIPAwards for Best Product Launch/Relaunch.


All of these young people (the fourth was the winner, Kirstina Colvin) were incredibly impressive, and we hope you submit more great people to us this year. As I did those interviews, I thought back to the person that the Rising Star Award is named for—Andy McLaughlin, who passed away suddenly just over two years ago at age 47. I recall maybe in my first year with SIPA, how calmly and expertly Andy helped to steady an annual conference that, a few days before, had veered off after a couple sudden departures. I remember my colleague Julie getting off the phone with Andy so relieved, saying—because of Andy—”we got this.” And we did.

But let me turn the column over to someone who knew Andy best, Ed Coburn, president of Cabot Wealth Network, to say exactly why this most prestigious award is named for Andy.

“Andy McLaughlin caught the SIPA bug from his college professor who published the very successful Communications Briefing,” Ed recalls. “Inspired he went and started PaperClip communications which is now the pre-eminent publisher in the higher-education residential life and safety market, among the various education-related markets it serves. Andy was a shining example of a rising star, starting with little and growing his knowledge and his business into an industry leader. Along the way, Andy also personally developed into an industry leader where he served SIPA as a director, president and frequent speaker, and earned SIPA’s Volunteer of the Year honors. Andy also spent time, through the SIPA Foundation, working with university publishing and journalism programs to give students exposure to our industry.

“I had the good fortune of knowing Andy as both a dear friend and colleague. In addition to being a smart entrepreneur who gave freely of his time to help SIPA and its members, Andy was a truly delightful person who was a friend to all who knew him.”

“The SIPA board had been discussing creating a rising star award to recognize up-and-coming leaders in our industry, and when Andy died unexpectedly in 2017 we realized he was the perfect embodiment of a young, energetic person whose hard work, knowledge and enthusiasm carried him to success in our industry. The board unanimously voted to name the award in his honor.

“I have so many personal memories of times spent with Andy that were equal parts business lesson, therapy session and a lot of fun,” Ed concludes. “If I could do anything to bring him back, I’d do it in a second. Since I can’t, the Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award is one of the best ways I can think of to honor the legacy and the spirit of a wonderful person who did so much for SIPA and our industry.”

Click here to check out the entry process.

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