Best PRactice: The kudos of winning a PR award can provide a considerable boost for any organisation. Kate Nicholas reports on what makes for best practice

Love them or hate them, there is no getting away from it - industry awards are one of the most visible, exciting and coveted indicators of best practice for PR professionals. Not only does the winning of an award help to forge a reputation for an organisation, raise the profile of the company among current and potential clients, and act as an enormous morale booster for staff, it also helps establish benchmarks for others in the profession to live up to.

Love them or hate them, there is no getting away from it - industry

awards are one of the most visible, exciting and coveted indicators of

best practice for PR professionals. Not only does the winning of an

award help to forge a reputation for an organisation, raise the profile

of the company among current and potential clients, and act as an

enormous morale booster for staff, it also helps establish benchmarks

for others in the profession to live up to.



The judging criteria set by the PR Week Awards focuses industry

attention on the crucial issues of planning, innovation, creativity and

evaluation.



It highlights the fact that it is not enough to have a good idea, it has

to be relevant, well targeted and its results measurable.



The competition is fierce - last year the PR Week Awards attracted a

record 666 entries - and it is only those applications that prove to be

shining examples of best practice which make it through to the

much-publicised shortlist.



Entries are judged over two-day sessions by a panel of 20-plus PR

professionals - both in-house and consultancy - and professionals drawn

from media, marketing, City and political backgrounds.



On the basis of marks allotted by the judges individually, only five

entries make it through to the shortlist on the second day of

judging.



Winners and commendations are decided from these finalists, based on

their combined scores in rounds one and two. Each judge’s marks are kept

confidential so the identities of the winners are not known until the

awards night itself.



But what separates the winners from the runners up? As entry details for

the 1999 PR Week Awards land on desks across the country with this

week’s issue, how can you ensure that your organisation picks up a

coveted PR Week trophy at this year’s glittering awards ceremony at the

Grosvenor House Hotel?



Big budgets alone will not impress. In essence, the judges will be

looking for a winning combination of creativity, originality,

cost-effectiveness, relation to objective, and outcome.



It is also important to remember that a commitment to research and

evaluation is considered a key factor by judges, not just of the Proof

Award, but of all PR Week Awards categories.



Finally, read the rules and stick to them. No matter how brilliant an

entry may be, if it is six pages long or fails to provide the

information requested, it will not make it through the first round of

judging.



For those who want a more detailed insight into just what the judges

will be looking for, and the qualities that are required to turn any

consultancy or organisation into an award winner, PR Week has gathered

winners of the industry’s three main awards - the PR Week Awards, the

IPR Sword of Excellence and the PRCA Awards for Outstanding Consultancy

Practice - to appear at this year’s Best Practice Conference.



For more information on this one-day event at the Landmark Hotel, London

on April 28, call Tania Cassell on 0171 413 4116.



PR WEEK AWARDS - WHAT IT MEANS TO WIN



Rosalyn Palmer, managing director, Rosalyn Palmer PR



Winning the PR Week Best Small Consultancy award has opened doors for

us. It has put us on three pitch lists already, one of which - London

Zoo - we won. It was fantastic for staff morale and recruitment: people

want to join and headhunters want to work with us. It has strengthened

our position with clients, especially larger clients who had used us

when we were the outsider agency on the pitch - it was an endorsement of

their choice, a public vindication of their faith in us. It has given us

the impetus to go for Consultancy of the Year in a couple of years. We

put the award on our letterhead because we are very proud of it, and

receive good feedback.



Marcia Knight, senior press officer, Haringey Council



When faced with the prospect of going for a hard hitting campaign,such

as ’Don’t mess with us’ most local councils would err on the side of

caution because they are conscious of the need to spend money carefully.

In this case, Haringey believed it was justified in taking a chance and

our faith was rewarded by winning the PR Week award for the Best Public

Sector Campaign.



It now means we have a model which we can use to show council officers

the difference between publicity and a PR campaign. The principles of

that campaign can also be used to show officers how to run a well

planned campaign.



Martin Brown, director of public affairs, Design Council



When the Design Council was radically changed in 1994/95, we had a clear

plan that we wanted to bring together the best people we could and

conduct our PR activities to the highest standards.



Winning the PR Week award for Campaign of the Year for the ’Creative

Britain’ campaign means recognition from our peers that we have achieved

that, even when compared to international consultancies or

multi-million-pound companies.



The Design Council has won many awards over the last three years.

Whether for the design of our premises, innovative videos or as

Investors in People, they all help us strive for the best possible

results - and now we have achieved them.



Lesley Brend, managing director, Red Consultancy



An award is not just one night of euphoria. I would say the benefit of a

single award lasts at least two years: the year of pushing yourself to

make your campaign award-worthy and the year of being title-holder, when

you damned well have to deliver on the expectation.



People often talk about the new business benefits of the PR Week

Consultancy of the Year award and, sure, the phone at Red rings a lot.

But the benefits go far deeper than that and to me, what’s most

important is the morale effect for employees and clients alike.

Everybody wants to be part of a hero campaign - and once you’ve got the

buzz, it gets the adrenaline going to strive for yet more. Awards raise

the bar for everyone.



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