RALEIGH NC - The North Carolina Zoo's marketing staff was the recipient of four awards for excellence in communications from the N.C. Association of Government Information Officers (NCAGIO) during the organization's annual conference held Thursday at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

NCAGIO's membership includes public relations specialists representing city, county and state government agencies across North Carolina. The organization annually sponsors a competition for members in various areas of the communications arts from writing to photography to video production.

N.C. Zoo Public Relations Manager Rod Hackney was awarded first place in Broadcast Programs for the zoo's syndicated television series, "The Zoo FileZ." In its 12th season, the series is aired by 11 N.C. broadcast stations and all Time Warner Cable systems statewide.
Hackney also garnered two writing awards, first place in News Releases for his report on the death of two female gorillas from cancer in December 2009 and an account of a N.C. Zoo Society 10-day safari to wildlife preserves in Kenya, Africa, published this summer on the zoo's educational website Field Trip Earth (www.fieldtripearth.org).

Webmaster Beverly Fox was the recipient of the honorable mention award for website design for the zoo's official site www.nczoo.org.

Judges for the NCAGIO competition included a panel of public relations and media experts from various fields. In selecting "The Zoo FileZ" as top broadcast program, judge Jaime Zea of WUVC-TV in Fayetteville wrote: "The writing and video editing of these five sample-pieces was outstanding.....Mr. Hackney's story-telling is simple, to-the-point, and best of all, engaging....(and) allows the viewer to put himself or herself in the middle of the story......"

Commenting on Hackney's winning new release, Alison Davis, a senior public affairs advisor with the Federal EPA wrote: "This release did a nice job of personalizing bad news, giving readers a glimpse of how attached zoo keepers get to zoo animals rather than simply reporting that the gorilla had been euthanized....."

In recognizing the zoo's website, judge John Conway, director of creative services for WRAL-TV in Raleigh observed: "The website succeeds in engaging visitors by showcasing the Zoo's variety of animals and habitats on its homepage. Navigation is clear, concise, logical and consistent......Content is comprehensive and well written and supported by eye-catching photography.....

Hackney has served as head of public relations for the zoo since 1987. Fox has been in charge of web design since joining the staff in 2006.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.