Sea Grant’s COVID-19-inspired #BEachSAFEly Wins “Best Public Awareness Campaign” Award
COVID-19: NYSG's Rapid Response Support for its Coastal Stakeholders - Press Release

Fair Media Council bestows honor to Sea Grant for third time in the past seven years


Paul C. Focazio, Communications Manager, New York Sea Grant, E:, P: (631)-632-6910

Kathleen Fallon, Coastal Processes & Hazards Specialist, New York Sea Grant, E:, P: 631-632-8730

Thomas Herrington, Coastal Community Resilience Specialist, New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, E:, P: 732-263-5588

Stony Brook, NY, April 30, 2021 — In a virtual ceremony held last Friday afternoon, Sea Grant's COVID-19-inspired "#BEachSAFEly" campaign ( received a Folio Award from the Fair Media Council (FMC) for best "Social Media Public Awareness Campaign." 

In the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, as well as the middle of beach season, New York Sea Grant and the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NYSG and NJSGC respectively) developed and implemented a nine week social media campaign called “#BEachSAFEly”. The campaign was supported by a COVID-19 Rapid Response grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Sea Grant College Program.

The nine bilingual (available in English and Spanish) illustrated messages, created by freelance designer Joel Davenport, not only focused on standard “ocean hazards” tips such as “Break the Grip of the Rip,” but also incorporated general safety and health concerns related to COVID-19.  Other messages included: "Stay social, be distant"; "Don’t let your mask become marine debris!"; “Stay dry when waves are high”; and "Grab your sunscreen and sanitizer," among others.

One of nine scenes developed by the New York and New Jersey Sea Grant programs for summer 2020’s #BEachSAFEly campaign, which provided beachgoers with tips to help keep them safe when enjoying the sand and surf. With COVID-19 and beach safety still a priority, a poster and postcard series are being planned for summer 2021. See more at credit: Joel Davenport | New York & New Jersey Sea Grant Programs

"While many social gatherings were discouraged last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, outside public spaces remained open and operating at a reduced capacity," said Kathleen Fallon, New York Sea Grant (NYSG)'s Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist. "Beaches became even more relevant as a place to which people could escape."

"Sea Grant recognized and responded to the need to develop and promote messages that would encourage people to continue to enjoy the beach, but be aware of both COVID-19 and water-related potential physical and health hazards, how to avoid them, and how to stay safe," said Thomas Herrington, New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC)'s Coastal Community Resilience Specialist and Associate Director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University.

“We are honored that FMC recognized #BEachSAFEly for both its design and effectiveness of conveying valuable health and safety information in an eye-catching way,” said Paul C. Focazio, NYSG's Communications Manager. “The weekly series stood apart from other COVID-19 coastal messaging seen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram because it brought in different aspects of water safety, such as wave and rip current awareness.” 

On Facebook, NYSG’s #BEachSAFEly posts reached more than 9,345 stakeholders and received 738 engagements (likes, shares, comments) from organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Cornell University, Stony Brook University, the Association of Marine Industries, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Weather Ready Texas, and others. On Twitter, the content gained 22,724 impressions (how many times a tweet was seen) and 653 engagements from partners such as NOAA offices and programs, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hofstra University, The Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, and Florida’s Department of Fisheries, Ecology, and Conservation. Overall, the average engagement rate for this campaign was almost 10 times higher than what is considered high engagement.

Moving forward and building off of the success of this all-virtual campaign, in summer 2021, NYSG and NJSGC will continue the extension of these messages by making the images available, individually as postcards and combined in a poster, to local beach venues and other community organizations.

#BEachSAFEly marks the third time in eight years that FMC has bestowed the honor to Sea Grant in this social media category — in 2020, it was in recognition of the "Currents Clips" limited video series and in 2014 it was for a collection of science-based information released before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy

“Recent events, particularly the pandemic, have spurred new interest in news by the public, and that energy is reflected in this year's Folio competition,” said FMC CEO and Executive Director Jaci Clement. “We saw more entries from more news outlets throughout the New York metro area than ever before, and our judges increased in number, too. But we also saw something else: Across the board, the quality of entries hit an all-time high. That speaks well not only for the news media but for the future of our communities and country.”

When you remove your mask while at the beach, be sure to keep an eye that it doesn’t blow away and land in the ocean. Make sure you take everything that you brought and dispose of your trash in appropriate receptacles. Image credit: Joel Davenport | New York & New Jersey Sea Grant Programs

More Info: Fair Media Council’s Folio Awards

"Folio recognizes excellent journalism that resonates with the public – and that's critical feedback for a newsroom, because great journalism means nothing if it doesn't capture the public's attention,” said Jaci Clement, Fair Media Council’s Executive Director. “Put another way: You need critical acclaim and success at the box office to earn a Folio." 

The Folio Awards are about bridging the gap between what the news media does and what the public wants from its news. That's why the event is a celebration that ultimately improves the news, which, in turn, keeps our communities vibrant, our public informed and our country strong.

This annual event brings together the best in media with community and business leaders to celebrate and honor quality news and impactful social media. Local, regional and national news stories and social media campaigns are judged by media-savvy news consumers and journalists for excellent journalism and relevance to the public, among other criteria. Each year, a mix of business and community leaders and journalists volunteer their time as judges to support the Fair Media Council and its Folio Awards.

FMC’s annual Folio Awards program is adjudicated by panels of metro NY community leaders. “Their personal commitment to the betterment of the community enables them to judge entries with an emphasis on news and information that is most relevant to the public,” said Clement. “Because the public is the judge, earning a Folio Award is among the highest of honors.”

"The Folio judging process is unlike any other, as it seeks to recognize outstanding social media campaigns of relevance and importance to the public,” said Clement. “That's a high standard, and on behalf of the Fair Media Council's Board of Directors, we congratulate you on raising the bar even higher."

More at

More Info: New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium is an affiliation of colleges, universities and other groups dedicated to advancing knowledge and stewardship of the Garden State’s marine and coastal environment. NJSGC meets its mission through innovative research, education and extension programs.
Founded in 1969 as the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, the organization has contributed leading research in the field of marine and environmental science. Since 1976 it has managed the New Jersey Sea Grant Program, part of a national effort that funds competitive research focusing on specific priority areas. In recognition of its academic and scientific achievements, the Consortium was awarded Sea Grant College status in 1989 and currently functions as a non-profit.
NJSGC provides equal opportunity for all New Jersey students and citizens to learn about the marine environment. Diverse, interactive, age-appropriate curricula ranges from pre-K through graduate level studies. Nearly 30,000 participants – students and their families, teachers, Scouts and the general public – take part annually in annual education programs and special events.
For more than 50 years, the Consortium has served the state and the region by developing programs designed to resolve coastal issues, develop marine technology, formulate science-based policy, and improve science literacy among its citizens.

The public can connect with New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium through its website; via it's newsletter COASTodian; @njseagrant on Facebook and @NJSeaGrant on Twitter.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, University at Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Elmsford and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter, "NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog,

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