EDITORIAL: A compelling story, not an overblown budget, will go a long way with our esteemed judges

While companies busily prepare their entries for the PRWeek Awards, we are assembling an esteemed group of judges. I am delighted to announce that Bill Nielsen, corporate VP at Johnson & Johnson, will serve as this year's chairman of the judges.

While companies busily prepare their entries for the PRWeek Awards, we are assembling an esteemed group of judges. I am delighted to announce that Bill Nielsen, corporate VP at Johnson & Johnson, will serve as this year's chairman of the judges.

Nielsen was featured in this column last week, following his speech to the Arthur W. Page Society. His leadership in the industry is well known, and his participation is highly motivating to us, as it will no doubt be to those corporations, nonprofits, and agency teams that are choosing their best work to pit against their competitors. One of the most common questions we get is, "How do we win more awards?" Winning entries often have the same elements of a successful new business pitch. Personality counts, creativity is crucial, understanding the audience is necessary, and demonstrable results are the bottom line. Every year, we hear the same whine from types too timid to enter - that only the big, pricey campaigns are favored to win awards. But in truth, judges look at the budget and the results together. Great results on a small budget have just as much traction in the minds of the judges as hugely successful campaigns with large budgets. The point is to meet, and possibly exceed, the goals of the company or client, and prove it with more than just a clip book. PRWeek's Campaign section is a great place to test the mettle of a program. When, as with an awards entry, one is asked to define the strategy, tactics, and results of a campaign, weaknesses can very quickly be revealed. Budgets are required, so the reader can judge whether the team really accomplished what it set out to do, and at what cost. The art of storytelling should not be forgotten when preparing an entry. This is part of remembering your audience - dedicated volunteers, who pour through pages and pages of information about everything from the launch of a new movie to the crisis response of a scandal-plagued corporation. Help them out by telling the story in an engaging way - not neglecting the hard facts, but amplifying them through compelling narrative. For information about entering the awards, e-mail awards@prweek.com, or call 646-638-6021. PR agencies need to watch their want ads At a recent educational forum, I spoke on a panel about getting a job in PR. I was taken aback to hear from a woman who recently graduated from a good school with a finance degree. She said she was discouraged from applying for jobs because all of the entry-level opportunities she saw asked for PR or communications majors. A little research into some current job postings bore this out. Rather shocking, isn't it, considering the amount of lip service this profession pays to the importance of business acumen, particularly in the younger ranks? Clearly it is important for a candidate to have solid writing ability and a communications sensibility. Good employees will be found in the ranks of those with PR degrees as well. But generic help-wanted ads, which focus on type of degree rather than specific skills, may be turning off potentially great hires that more precisely meet the image the PR industry wants to exemplify.

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