A rewarding experience on many different levels

Being part of the PRWeek Awards process is valuable for me and my university.

I'm writing this column a few days before the 2012 PRWeek Award winners are announced, so I don't know who won. But I'm sure the winners are celebrating and the profession is basking in the afterglow of another memorable evening.  

For the past four years, I've judged entries in several categories for the awards program – marketing campaigns, small and large agencies, community relations, and so forth. The judging process is detailed, comprehensive, and completely blind: each judge leaves the session knowing how he or she voted, but not who won.

Being part of the PRWeek Awards process is valuable for me and my university. As entrants in the education category, we must reflect on and document what we accomplished. This self assessment also helps us identify areas for attention and drive improvements in our PR program.  

As a judge, I review dozens of entries that describe marketing campaigns, social media innovations, and agency achievements, among others. I translate these cases into my teaching to help link crucial concepts and themes with practice. In addition, the awards banquet provides opportunities to build bridges from the classroom to practice.  

My only regret is that all PR students can't attend the event. That's not possible, of course, but perhaps PRWeek could do a little more to extend the benefits of this event to students. Here are a couple of ideas:

· Produce an online – or print – publication that profiles some of the winning entries in more depth. Brief descriptions of the winners are already published, but an online version could provide needed depth for application in the classroom.

·  Invite selected university students to review some of the winning entries and then write the cases for the publication. An advising educator for each student could add a couple of discussion or teaching notes. A sponsor might help defray costs.

The PRWeek Awards event is already a notable celebration of achievement and progress in our field. It's also a lot of fun. Perhaps we can do more to share its rich contents with upcoming professionals and leaders.

Bruce Berger, Ph.D. is Reese Phifer Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Alabama and a member of the board of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Previously he was VP of PR at Whirlpool. His column focuses on PR students, young professionals, and education. He can be reached at berger@apr.ua.edu.

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