Award winners must show real business benefits

Awards season is upon us again and the call for entries for the PRWeek Awards has already gone out, which automatically turns thoughts to those perennial client mantras of measurement, effectiveness, and return on investment.

Awards season is upon us again and the call for entries for the PRWeek Awards has already gone out, which automatically turns thoughts to those perennial client mantras of measurement, effectiveness, and return on investment.

Having judged dozens of awards schemes across numerous marketing-related industries over the years, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to make sure your entry gets straight to the point and is backed up by evidence that demonstrates real business benefits.

Let's get away from thinking in terms of media impressions and advertising value equivalency – rather, let's think about how a campaign positively impacted a brand, business, or organization in concrete, measurable ways.

The winner of this year's top Cannes PR award was the National Australia Bank, which produced a daring and attention-grabbing campaign revolving around the creative theme of breaking up. It even surreptitiously persuaded competitor banks to unwittingly tweet out its campaign, in the belief that the bank had made a “PR gaffe.”

It garnered incredible attention, buzz, and media impressions. But the reason it won the award was, ultimately, because it persuaded people to switch their accounts to the National. It demonstrated return on investment. It shifted the dial. And that is exactly the type of evidence our stellar group of PRWeek Awards judges will be looking for when they make their assessments.

Entries stuffed purely with tales of “gazillions” of media impressions and the value of said impressions if they were expressed in terms of paid-for advertising will not cut the mustard.

So, bear this factor in mind when putting together your awards strategy. We have produced a handy feature featuring 11 top tips (10 would have been too formulaic…) for those wanting to see their name up in lights at the awards ceremony, which takes place at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on March 1, 2012.

PRWeek's managing editor Gideon Fidelzeid will also be hosting a special webcast from noon until 1pm on Wednesday, August 17, featuring contributions from this year's awards chair and Power Lister Gary Sheffer, VP, corporate communications and public affairs at GE; former chairman at Hill & Knowlton, MaryLee Sachs; and the National Retail Federation's VP of comms, Tita Freeman. All three are experienced judges and their views on crafting an effective awards entry will be well worth listening to. The webcast will be archived on our website after the event if you can't catch it live, and there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

Entrants have until Friday, October 7 to submit entries and entry kits can be downloaded here. I wish you all good luck and look forward to celebrating with you next March – but first of all, remember to keep those business benefits at the top of the evidence list.

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