Denise Scatena Honored as ‘PR Pro of the Year’ in 2020

Our founding partner, Denise Scatena, received top honors from the PRSA San Diego Imperial Counties Chapter at their annual awards program held virtually on Dec. 16, 2020. We are very proud of her accomplishment, which is given to communications professionals who are at the top of their game in our region.

This award was initiated by PR Club of San Diego as the PR Professional of the Year Award and came into the Mark of Excellence Awards structure after the merger of the two organizations. In 2003 it was renamed the Deborah Baker PR Professional of the Year Award in honor of Deborah Baker, APR, who passed away just months after being selected to receive the honor in 2002. Baker was the director of communications for the Girl Scouts San Diego-Imperial Counties Council and was honored, among other things, for her work initiating “Operation Thin Mint” to send Girl Scout cookies to troops deployed overseas. The nomination criteria is an individual who in the course of the previous year, has achieved an outstanding public relations accomplishment in strategic planning, product or service introduction, issues management, advocacy or crisis.

Here’s Denise’s personal statement on receiving the award from her peers:

"It is with much appreciation and gratitude that I accept the Deb Baker PR Professional of the Year 2020 award from the PRSA San Diego Imperial Counties Chapter.

Thank you to my team at Scatena Daniels Communications and community advocate JoAnn Fields for nominating me this year.

To be a recipient of this award, named in honor of Deb Baker, who dedicated her life to philanthropy and civil service, is just amazing and humbling.

As a founding partner of Scatena Daniels Communications, Arika Daniels and I started our agency in 2009 with just two laptops and $1500 each. We initially met when were both on the PRSA San Diego board together. After finding out we were both turned down for the same new business because we were each independent and considered ‘too small’ for a certain nonprofit’s brand, we thought if we teamed up, we could get some work. Fast forward 11 years later, and we’ve built an agency that moves mountains for our philanthropy-focused clients. This is the longest job that I have ever had. And I am grateful to continue my service to the community.


We all know that our line of work is not glamorous — especially when working with celebrities or children on live TV. There is a lot of writing, coordinating, and cajoling. Time goes by so fast we forget to eat, and these days, just getting halfway dressed for the endless video calls while at the same time helping our kids learning from home.

At Scatena Daniels Communications we are a team of senior-level PR practitioners who specialize in philanthropy, working with nonprofits and businesses. We help clients communicate highly-complex subjects through media placements, often on limited budgets and abbreviated timeframes. This year, our work has centered on the most challenging issues facing our region — amplifying the voices and frontline work in underserved communities in more than 325 interviews around the emergency response to the pandemic, racial injustice and mask conflict, educational inequity, and the digital divide, the accurate count of the 2020 census in hard to count communities, and other social justice initiatives.

We cannot perform the high-caliber of work we expect of ourselves without the trust and collaboration of our clients. Thank you to our clients for trusting us to be good stewards of their brand and resources. Together we can continue to share great stories of human impact to inspire others to reflect and take action.

I want to say a big thank you to our journalism colleagues — many I have known for close to two decades and others who I am meeting this year for the first time — who are our partners in this journey to amplify the voices of those in our community who are doing amazing things, and to rally support and participation in important causes.

When COVID hit, the Scatena Daniels team shifted our process to be successful in the remote news-gathering environment, and often we found ourselves working out Zoom, Skype, FaceTime interview logistics as the media was figuring it out too — making all of this work with the reporters who are broadcasting from their living rooms and patios.

Thank you for your trust, patience, good humor, commiseration, and friendship in the most challenging of times — a global health crisis, civil unrest, assaults on your reputation for simply doing your job. We stand with you.

And thank you to my family — my husband, daughters, and parents — who support me and my work, and give me space to just send “one last email” or “one last tweet” before heading for bed at night.

If the tumultuous 2020 has taught us anything, it is that showing up matters. Authenticity matters. Showing up matters. Empathy and self-care matter. Representation matters. Your value matters. And brace yourself for 2021. I am ready and I hope you are too.

Thank you."

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