First you hear your name above the drum roll; the spotlight trains
on you as you work your way through the crowds; then you step onto the
podium to receive a top award from a well-known celebrity, your obvious
glee projected onto 10-foot high screens on either side of the stage -
apparently it is quite a feeling. According to those who should know, to
be recognised as the best-of-best in front of a gathering of 1,400 of
your peers creates quite an unbeatable rush.
And it doesn't stop there. As winners every year testify, in the cold
light of day a PRWeek Award does more than gather dust on your desk. It
increases the profile of both the individual and the organisation within
It makes chief executives feel good about their investment in PR,
clients feel vindicated in their choice of agency and, let's face it,
most staff would rather work for an award-winning organisation. It also
acts as a real magnet when it comes to new business. An award is a very
valuable indicator of excellence to clients trying to make the right
choice of agency in a very crowded marketplace.
The PRWeek Awards also set important benchmarks of best practice for the
industry as a whole. Every year, as the quality and quantity increase -
last year's PRWeek Awards attracted a phenomenal 700 entries - the goal
posts shift a little further. And this year, to keep in line with all
the changes that have been taking place in the industry, PRWeek has
restructured its awards to ensure that excellence is recognised across
the entire spectrum of activity known as public relations.
For the 2001 PRWeek Awards we have now created seven different types of
awards, reflecting the main areas that you operate in. This year, you
can enter seven different areas: People and Agencies, Corporate,
Product, Public, Specialist and Craft. The Gold Awards are, of course,
still the most highly-prized of all and continue to recognise the
highest achievements during the year.
This year also sees the introduction of a raft of new awards. Some
recognise the increasingly strategic nature of the work undertaken by
some in the industry, some the complexities of specialisms and others
the changing nature of the workplace.
The Corporate category covers the whole gamut of both strategic and
implementation work undertaken relating to the corporate brand. For the
first time PRWeek has recognised the considerable control that corporate
communications and PR professionals now have over internal as well as
external communication, with a new award for Internal Communications,
plus a category recognising work relating to the development and
communication of Corporate Branding.
In the Product area, PRWeek has divided its healthcare awards into two
sections to reflect the increasingly specialist nature of this sector.
The first recognises work undertaken on behalf of pharmaceutical
companies relating to ethical (prescription-only) drugs with another
separate award for work in the area of licensed OTC drugs and consumer
The marketing communications section also includes for the first time
awards specifically for B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B
(business-to-business) marketing communications, plus a Youth Marketing
award for some of the dynamic work being undertaken to reach the elusive
And last, but certainly not least, the PRWeek Awards will for the first
time recognise the substantial contribution made to the PR industry by
freelances, with a special People and Agencies award for best Solo
Most commonly asked questions
Every year, PRWeek runs an annual seminar entitled 'Best Practice' which
looks at the whole gamut of industry awards and how to win them? Our
chairman of judges explains the PRWeek judging process and talks about
the kind of work that catches the judges' eyes, and the reason why such
work stands out from the crowd. This is then illustrated by a series of
detailed case studies presented by a broad spectrum of award winners
from both the PRWeek, PRCA and IPR awards. This year's seminar, for
example, featured campaigns by, and on behalf of, AOL, P&O and the BBC
and speakers such as the RAC's outspoken campaigner Edmund King and
Simon Lewis, who talked for the first time about his work as the Queen's
The next conference will take place in early 2002 following this year's
awards, but in the meantime, here are some some of the most commonly
answered questions, and the answers.
Who are the judges for the PRWeek Awards?
Around two thirds of the 40-strong panel are drawn equally from public
relations consultancies and in-house departments, from a range of
industry sectors and specialisms. The rest are drawn from the worlds of
journalism and broadcasting, and related areas - such as marketing
directors, MPs and City analysts. This year's chairman of judges is the
worldwide chairman and chief executive of Top 10 global agency Ketchum,
David Drobis, who, given the global communications environment in which
you all now operate, will bring a broader perspective to the
How exactly does the judging work?
The judging takes place over two days. On the first day, the judges are
divided into around ten mini judging panels, each of which considers a
selection of categories. A spokesperson is appointed from each of the
groups who then participates in the second round of judging. On the
second day, ten of the original panel meet to consider the shortlisted
Once again the judges give their individual marks to each entry after
group discussion. The winners and commendations are then decided on the
basis of the first and second round totals. But by keeping each judge's
marks confidential, the identities of the winners are able to be kept a
closely guarded secret (even from the judges and chairman) until the
all-important awards night.
There are also a number of special awards. To decide who the recipient
of the Proof Award should be, the judges give additional (confidential)
marks to those shortlisted entrants who they feel have made best use of
research and evaluation in terms of planning and targeting PR activity
and can prove, using recognised methodologies, the effectiveness of
their campaigns. The financial award cannot be entered, but is nominated
by a separate panel of financial experts drawn from financial
journalism, City institutions, agencies and in-house departments.
What are the judges really looking for?
The rules say that the judges will look for evidence of 'outcome,
creativity, relation to objective, and cost-effectiveness'. The winning
entries will show all this, but they will also display that something
extra - that spark of innovation, the unique approach to problem
solving, that makes the judges think 'I wish I'd thought of that.' They
will also be looking for a real appreciation of the role that PR plays
as part of the broader business process plus evidence that creativity,
no matter how brilliant, is appropriate and is actually putting
something back into the business.
So why didn't I win an award?
This is always a tough one, as the judges' decisions are final. There is
the all too common failure to read the rules - for example, submitting
four pages when two are required and failing to include a budget when
required. But probably the most common reason for failing to make it
through to the shortlist is a lack of measurable objectives and failure
to evaluate outcomes. It doesn't matter how wildly creative the concept
is if it isn't relevant or isn't good use of budget. All our judges are
far too experienced to be dazzled by huge budgets - they are more likely
to be impressed by a brilliant idea, well targeted, that achieved its
aims on a modest sum. Contrary to popular opinion, it really isn't size
One final tip
You can't win if you don't enter. The closing deadline for entries to
the PRWeek Awards is Friday 6 July. For further information call Helen
Thomas on 020 8267 4391 or visit www.prweek.com.
The awards will be presented at the PRWeek Awards dinner on Wednesday 31
October in The Great Room, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London. For
further information on the Best Practice conference, contact Fiona
Fennell on 020 8267 4116.
CATEGORIES AND SPONSORS
Craft Categories Broadcast
Research sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Public Sector sponsored by COI/TAS
Not for Profit sponsored by Profile Group
Proof Award sponsored by Echo Research
Healthcare: OTC/Consumer Marketing Communications: B2C
Marketing Communications: B2B
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Publications sponsored by Colophon
People and Agencies
Communicator of the Year
Small Consultancy of the Year sponsored by Media Information
New Consultancy of the Year sponsored by Durrants Media Monitoring
Solo Practitioner of the Year sponsored by Xchangeteam
Young PR Professional of the Year
PR Professional of the Year International Campaign of the Year
Consultancy of the Year sponsored by Tellex
In-house Department of the Year sponsored by Burson-Marsteller
Campaign of the Year sponsored by PR Newswire
PRWeek Awards entry kit is inserted in this issue. Those listed are the
confirmed sponsors to date.