Nashville publicist Kirt Webster honored amid sexual harassment allegations

(Courtesy: Twitter)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The publication PR News listed Kirt Webster as the Publicist of the Year on its website Wednesday morning among other winners of the “PR People Awards.”

This all-star lineup of communicators were honored Tuesday night at the historic National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The public relations faux pas went public, as the embattled Webster fights allegations of sexual misconduct. He stepped away from his company more than a month ago. But a PR News executive says they didn’t know.

Senior Vice President Diane Schwartz explains:

PR News rescinded the 2017 Publicist of the Year award given to Kirt Webster amid these just-released allegations against Webster of sexual abuse. The PR News judges had no knowledge of these actions four months ago during the judging process and unfortunately we were not aware of them until this morning, a day after our awards ceremony. We removed him from the award honoree list on our site and are notifying the principals at his former agency. We found these allegations to be very disturbing and we hope justice is served.

By Wednesday afternoon, Webster’s name was removed from the awards list.

The website now has a blank space where Webster’s name was listed in the roster of winners earlier.

BEFORE (Courtesy: PR News Online)
AFTER (Courtesy: PR News Online)

Webster faces accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct from Austin Rick, a former aspiring country singer and client of Webster’s.

After the publicist was listed on PR News, Rick sent News 2 the following statement:

This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach, and it serves to illustrate why it’s so very important for victims of Webster’s – like myself and the known 21 others – to continue speaking about our traumas. How PR News overlooked our statements for more than a month is beyond me, but I do know that bribery, sexual assault, and escalating intimidation are not characteristic of anything besides a serial sexual predator.

Former Webster employee, Zach Farnum sent this angry statement:

Kirt Webster receiving this award is not only a slap in the face to all of the good, moral publicists in our profession, but also to the many victims like myself who suffered through his torment. I will not participate in or associate with this organization until the correct and apologize for this error.