As previous winners will confirm, winning a PRWeek Award is no easy task. Aside from the necessary hard work that goes into creating a compelling campaign in the first place, the entry then has to pass through a meticulous judging process involving some of the industry's most esteemed professionals. On December 6, this senior and engaged body of more than 70 judges will gather in New York City to deliberate over the entries and select the shortlist.
PRWeek Awards judges are drawn from across the industry, from agency and in-house, and represent firms of all sizes – not just the big ones.
For awards veteran Jolie Hunt, global head of PR for Thomson Reuters, the judging process is something she always relishes. “Judging the PRWeek Awards is always an educational process,” she says, “one in which I am always happy to participate.” Hunt believes the high-caliber award entries she sees reflect exciting changes in the industry and notes that some of the most interesting campaigns often come from smaller firms.
“Some of the best entries I have seen come from people and organizations I've never heard of,” she says. “Unfortunately, some of the smaller firms don't think to put their own work forward to the awards, but they really should be making it a priority to get attention.”
Bethany Sherman, CCO at Dow Jones, who this year will be judging for the third time, adds, “I've never seen a bias during the judging process. The work speaks for itself – the name of the organization doesn't matter.”
For Sherman, one of the most fascinating parts is working alongside the diverse group of judges, all bringing different perspectives to the process. “It is a terrific experience and an excellent way of understanding what is going on in the industry,” she adds. In terms of offering advice to this year's entrants,
Sherman believes simplicity is the key. She counsels, “Judges want to see crisp, clear language, clear metrics that are meaningful and relevant, and proof there was message pickup.”
A SELECT LIST OF JUDGES FOR 2011
Langdon Cook, director, PR and communications, Deloitte
Jolie Hunt, global head, PR, Thomson Reuters
Ray Kerins, VP, worldwide communications, Pfizer
Maril MacDonald, CEO, Gagen MacDonald
Valerie O'Neil, VP, global partner communications and engagement, Starbucks
Andy Polansky, president, Weber Shandwick
Jen Prosek, managing partner, CJP Communications
Maria Russell, Professor of PR; director, executive education, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
Matthew Traub, managing director/chief of staff, DKC
Bethany Sherman, chief communications officer, Dow Jones
Barby Siegel, CEO, Zeno Group