Small Corporate Comms Team of the Year 2008

Open to any corporate PR department with five professional employees or fewer, this award recognizes success in addressing the spectrum of management issues and objectives, and in handling corporate communications, campaigns, and programs, including crisis situations

Caesars Palace

Las Vegas is a virtual overdrive of stimulus with hotels, casinos, chapels, and shows, all vying for virtually the same demographic. The Caesars Palace PR (CPPR) team bears a heavy burden to make its company stand out as a leading source of luxury and entertainment.

The team, operating on a relatively small budget, implemented a comprehensive program to promote its establishment as the top destination for the sophisticated traveler. The team works in partnership with other internal business units such as wedding services, marketing, catering, food and beverage, special events, and hotel operations to attract media attention to all the hotel's offerings.

With a team of only three employees, the CPPR team set out to streamline its PR efforts in order to generate the maximum press exposure by aggressively pitching and targeting the media when opportunities arise. To accomplish this, CPPR organized its efforts by dividing the focus into two compartments: announcements and openings, and PR special events and broadcast productions.

For example, the team was instrumental in opening the "Absolut Find Your Flavor Suite," in partnership with Absolut vodka, The Rockwell Group, and Esquire. The effort transformed a normal suite into a state-of-the-art experience. Since its opening, it has doubled the suite's occupancy. Other openings include the Qua Baths & Spa, Rao's Las Vegas restaurant, The Pussycat Dolls Casino, a performance by Bette Midler, and a massive expansion of the palace.

In its special events and broadcast productions efforts, the team launched a comedy festival, holiday tree lighting, New Year's Eve celebration, and a July 7, 2007 (7/7/07) wedding event. The team seized upon the opportunity to promote what many considered the luckiest date of the century by providing an elaborate wedding for a couple who also shared a July 7 birthday - officiated by famed Vegas headliner Rita Rudner.

The judges all agreed on the organization of CPPR's efforts and its ability to position itself creatively in such a busy marketplace. "Strong tactical elements," said one judge, "Creative implementation and strong results in a highly competitive category." "A huge amount of effort by a solid team," noted another.

During the 2007 qualifying period, CPPR reached a total audience of 1,094,648,510 with media value worth $93,476,806 - nearly 90 times the team's operating budget. The team's efforts drew media impressions with USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Extra, US Weekly, Dateline NBC, and Good Morning America, to name a few. During the qualifying period, CPPR also received the Harrah's Entertainment Chairman's Award for Superior Team Results in the Western Division for the work it did on Caesars' 40th anniversary PR campaign.

Honorable Mention
CarMax Inc.

The online used-car retailer's in-house communications team of four operates on a budget of no more than $200,000, excluding salaries. The team assists CarMax in continuing its dominance of the online car dealership industry. To this end in 2007, the team launched a social networking site and engaged consumers with opportunities for feedback. The team contacted influential bloggers, inviting them to participate in beta tests, and provided key CarMax personnel for interviews with online journalists. The team also launched "On the Web," a monthly peek at online conversations about CarMax, which the team sends to senior management to increase the firm's knowledge of consumer concerns, praises, and criticisms. The judges were impressed by the team's aggressive online strategy and its humanitarian efforts. "Their embrace of social media and the CSR trend is admirable and distinctive in this category," noted one judge. By targeting press releases and new media capabilities, the team was able to determine that 10% of CarMax customers learned about company offers from its PR efforts. The social networking site has spread virally also, landing on You Tube, AOL video, and Yahoo Video.

Finalists 2008
Caesars Palace
CarMax Inc
Omni Hotels
Rosetta Stone

The Award
Open to any corporate PR department with five professional employees or fewer, this award recognizes success in addressing the spectrum of management issues and objectives, and in handling corporate communications, campaigns, and programs, including crisis situations. Judges considered communications management achievements, such as cost-effective use of in-house and external resources, department restructuring programs, and success in integrating other communications functions - including advertising, event management, and Web development - into the PR function.

Sponsor: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide is a full-service agency operating in more than 60 markets around the globe. The firm provides corporations, government agencies, trade associations, and not-for profit-organizations with strategic planning and implementation across an array of disciplines: public relations, digital influence, broadcast production, media planning, and more. The firm's seven specialized practice areas include healthcare, consumer marketing, public affairs, corporate, technology, social marketing, and entertainment.

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