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Katie Martin, SMP President




Over 100  Mississippi Pinnacle Award nominations have resulted in five winners being named in the first statewide event.


April 12, 2023 –HATTIESBURG, MISS Sales & Marketing Professionals (SMP) announced the winners of the 2023 Mississippi Pinnacle Awards at a black-tie awards gala held at Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, MS on April 11, 2023.   The Mississippi Pinnacle Awards honor excellence, professionalism, and outstanding achievement in sales, marketing, and community engagement and showcase the highest level of public relations talent in the state. 

 “SMP’s Mississippi Pinnacle Awards represent an opportunity to recognize successful public relations colleagues for their efforts and achievements in 2022,” said Michael Marks, Chair of the event. “It truly was awe-inspiring to see so many talented professionals in one room.”


2023 Pinnacle Award winners:

Overall Mississippi Pinnacle Award 


The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves over 50 community members in Mississippi. MMSA’s mission is to be the catalyst for the preservation and economic revitalization of Mississippi’s historic downtowns and traditional commercial districts. MMSA serves its members through statewide marketing and advocacy, training and professional development, and community development services. We developed and executed a statewide marketing campaign, featuring print ads in the Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi Magazine, the Mississippi Tour Guide, and Elevation Magazine, as well as radio promotion on SuperTalk Mississippi’s “Good Things with Rebecca Turner” and “The Paul Gallo Show.” In addition, MMSA’s social media campaign promotes our events, communities, board members, investors, and other Main Street related news. Finally, MMSA’s Annual Awards Luncheon is held in June each year and showcases the best people, projects, and initiatives from Main Street communities across the State of Mississippi. MMSA’s Annual Awards Luncheon is always our biggest promotional event of the year. In 2022, the event was held in June at The South in downtown Jackson. MMSA’s Annual Awards Luncheon had its largest attendance ever, with over 250 attendees and 40 statewide award winners in categories such as Organization, Design, Promotion, Economic Vitality, and Special Awards.



Bud Kirkpatrick Professional Award


NELSON HASKIN, JR. J40 RESTAURANTS Take a stroll down E. Front Street in downtown Hattiesburg, throw a rock (not really), and you will hit a restaurant owned by local restaurateur Nelson Haskin, Jr. Hattiesburg's Veteran of the Year is the owner of Southbound Bagel and Coffee Shop, Nellie’s Chicken & Daiquiris, Nellie’s Food Truck, Blu Jazz Cafe, and Hattiesburgers and Blues–and has opened a fifth restaurant, Bourbon on Front Street. His restaurants have become a staple for many Hattiesburgers and are quickly gaining popularity with visitors, too. “I planned on opening one restaurant and just trying to make it the best restaurant it could be but at the same time maybe expanding to a bigger location. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have four restaurants in downtown Hattiesburg because that wasn’t the goal.” Haskin is the 2022 Recipient of the Area Development Partnership's (ADP) Spirit Award. For his business efforts, Nelson has been recognized as the Mississippi Small Business Authority Minority Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022. Nelson served in the Army National Guard part time from 1995-2001 and in the Army National Guard Active Reserve from 2008-2020 and is the recipient of an honorable discharge.  



Charlie Holt Business Award


MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY TELEVISION CENTER Started in 2020, the MSU Films storytelling initiative’s goal is to provide high-quality, thought-provoking entertainment for general audiences in support of Mississippi State University’s mission and goals. Using complex and intricate storytelling formulae, the center’s films have spurred discussion on the topics of food insecurity, nature resource conservation, youth suicide, farm stress, opioid misuse, and MSU’s contributions to the space program. Documentaries produced by MSU Films are seen in the classroom, at workshops, and across the country on public television, reaching beyond traditional learning environments to meet the learner where they are and encouraging serious thought and conversation about topics important to all. MSU Films productions received extensive recognition from colleagues and professional organizations in 2022. Collectively, the programs and producers of MSU Films received eight Southeast Emmy awards from fifteen nominations, a regional Edward R. Murrow award for news documentary, and six first-place awards at the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Excellence in Broadcasting program. In addition, “The Hungriest State,” MSU Films’ flagship program received a James Beard Foundation nomination for best documentary, one of three national nominees and the only nominee based in higher education.



Bernice Linton Outstanding Event Award (Population above 7,500)


Cruisin’ The Coast, Inc. began in 1996 as a way to bring tourists to the Mississippi Gulf Coast as event participants and spectators during a slow time of year. In the first year, 374 vehicles from mostly the Gulf South participated. In 2022, 9,618 vehicles - an increase of 122 from the previous year - registered for the event, coming from 44 states, Canada, and, for the first time, the UK. We have also hosted registrants from Mexico, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Germany; and spectators from as far away as France and Hawaii. Each year, we mount national, regional, and local marketing campaigns through The Ad Group, a local ad agency on the MS Gulf Coast. Our national campaign takes place in publications such as “Hot Rod” magazine, Dennis Gage “My Classic Car”, and Motor Trend TV network. Regionally, we advertise on TV and radio in markets within a day’s drive of the coast, such as New Orleans, LA; Birmingham, AL; Memphis, TN; Panama City, FL; and more. We also leverage our strong relationships with Audacy, Gray Digital, and Super Talk MS. Locally, we engage The Sun Herald, M2 Media, local TV and radio stations, and publications such as Coast Observer. We are very proud of our positive word-of-mouth recommendations among enthusiasts nationwide. Cruisin’ The Coast continues to grow, adding participants and spectators yearly. Our impact on the coastal economy is in excess of $33 million and $36 million statewide, as determined by an economic assessment prepared by The Bradley Research Group, LLC



Outstanding Small Town Event Award (Population under 7,500)


EXPERIENCE COLUMBIA, MS From mere lights on city walls to a downtown-wide deck the halls, Experience Columbia, MS has grown year-by-year into the magical, beautiful, and exciting experience that it is today! Since 2018, this event continues its legacy as America’s premier southern holiday destination. With over 300,000 visits in the 2022 holiday season alone, Experience Columbia, MS is prepared to deliver the ultimate holiday experience to its massive and growing audience of visitors. This Winter Wonderland features many attractions, live events, magical light shows, a large-scale outdoor ice-skating rink, and so much more! During our 2022 holiday season, we had many great achievements that not only impacted our organization but also our local economy. We proudly received a “Best of MS Travel 2022” award and a “FestivalSouth 2022 Best of the Pine Belt” award, both recognizing our status as Mississippi’s best holiday destination. At the top of our achievements this year, our team worked tirelessly to construct the largest LED Christmas tree in the country. After opening week, this historical feat was unfortunately lost in a natural disaster. Despite this loss, our event was able to create a $22 million economic impact, which brought a great boost to the Pine Belt and our beautiful town of Columbia. To finish off our amazing season, we hosted America’s Got Talent Group Golden-Buzzer Winner Chapel Hart at our massive New Year's Celebration.


Thomas Gregory accepting the Overall Pinnacle Award on behalf of Mississippi Main Street Association

Nelson Haskin wins the Bud Kirkpatrick Professional Award

Cruisin the Coast founder and winner of the Bernice Linton Outstanding Event Award, Woody Bailey

Brianna Fortenberry accepting the Outstanding Small Town Event Award for Experience Columbia

James Parker, left, and David Garraway, right, representing Mississippi State University Television Center, which won the Charlie Holt Business Award

Pat Hopson honored with SMP’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for her humanitarian efforts in the state of Mississippi.


About Sales and Marketing Professionals (SMP)

SMP is a state-wide organization comprised of owners, managers, and account executives involved in sales and marketing. Membership includes professionals from all fields of businesses, including banks, media, real estate, medical, retail, tourism, law, academics, and more. 

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