SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Cook + Schmid, a full-service public relations, public affairs, advertising and marketing firm, received a Silver Bernays Award of Merit in the category of nonprofit/government/association events (seven days or fewer) at the 25th Annual Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence Awards hosted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The agency earned the Award of Merit for Orchids and Onions, an awards program that recognizes the best and worst of architecture, planning and urban design in the San Diego region.

Cook + Schmid developed and implemented a public relations and marketing plan that helped to increase the awareness and visibility of Orchids and Onions on its 40-year celebration and its host non-profit organization, the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF). The plan included an integrated approach to reach the media, larger public and key stakeholders. Cook + Schmid also supported SDAF’s social media campaign.

“Seeing the San Diego community step up its involvement in Orchids and Onions, one of the only awards ceremonies of its kind in the nation, is really encouraging,” said Margit Whitlock, vice president of the Board of Directors of SDAF. “It was great to have Cook + Schmid as a partner in helping our efforts this past year to get more people talking about architecture, design and our overall built environment.”

Cook + Schmid used the theme “Taking it Back to the People” to guide messaging and raise awareness about the importance of the competition among the general public. In recent years Orchids and Onions had declined in popularity among audiences not directly involved in the architecture industry. Leveraging the current region-wide focus on the housing crisis and controversial issues over development, Cook + Schmid successfully reached out to a broad range of audiences. Cook + Schmid effectively communicated the relevance of the competition as San Diego struggles with how to accommodate projected increases in population while maintaining the character of neighborhoods and quality of life.

As a result, the 2016 Orchids and Onions competition posted a record number of nominations for the award and the event reception sold out.

“It was great to see the turnout for Orchids and Onions extend to individuals who haven’t been involved in the past. This showed they understood how important this competition is for San Diego’s built environment as we struggle to accommodate growth,” said Jon Schmid, Cook + Schmid CEO and president. “The mission of the program is so important for the quality of life in our region.”

Cook + Schmid is a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm in San Diego, CA. Clients include private and public companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies. Cook + Schmid offers multi-cultural marketing and public outreach, as well as social media, website, interactive technologies, and mobile application development. For more information, please visit