Believe it or not, it's that time of year again. On August 2, the entry process for the 11th annual PRWeek Awards will officially open. But amidst the excitement of deciding which campaigns, companies, programs, and professionals should be submitted for consideration, there is inevitably criticism. And to be fair, it is not exclusive to us; all industry awards go through it. Of course, I can only speak for the PRWeek Awards and I think it needs to be addressed.
Each year, PRWeek receives nearly 1,000 entries across 32 different categories. And these entries come from a variety of sources: agencies, corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and government agencies. An enormous amount of work goes into preparing an entry - from writing the two-page summary to creating supporting materials. And winning a PRWeek Award is (rightfully so!) an honor that the industry takes very seriously.
After six years of moderating the judging process, I have a good sense of why certain campaigns/agencies/people win and others don't. There are those in the industry that constantly complain that the awards (and for that matter, PRWeek itself) favors large agencies. The argument is that by requiring the same entry fee of all firms, regardless of size, it limits the number of entries a smaller agency can submit and, therefore, reduces its chances of winning.
While I do see some semblance of logic in this argument, I still don't think it really holds water. This is not a lottery. The odds of winning don't increase along with the number of entries. The PRWeek Awards are judged by industry leaders, not PRWeek's staff - another misconception. Those judges come from the same areas that make up the entrants (agencies, corporations, and so on). They are not concerned with which agency is submitting the award; they are simply looking to honor the most creative and successful campaigns, people, and companies in the industry. (Click here for tips on producing a great entry.)
Certainly it is true that a large firm has a bigger marketing budget and can afford to submit more entries than a small or midsize firm. But in some way, that provides an advantage to the smaller agencies because they have to be more discerning about which entries they submit, almost doing a pre-judging if you will, and thereby ensuring that truly the best of the best is being entered into competition.
Erica Iacono is the executive editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.