Winning awards is more than just an ego trip

Every year, we face the frenzy of industry award season, scurrying to get our applications in order.

Every year, we face the frenzy of industry award season, scurrying to get our applications in order. The categories seem to continue expanding, offering more opportunities to recognize great work. We showcase our trophies in our conference rooms, use them as ammunition when negotiating with supervisors, and present them as proof of our excellence. But is it all about the bling? I think not.

At its heart, the concept of recognizing great work is designed to inspire. Who among us hasn't read about an award-winning program and thought, “that's brilliant,” or “we could do something similar here.” Inspiration is something we all need and shouldn't be shy about seeking. Universities require their students to comb through winning entries, interview the participants, and learn from these real-world examples of excellence. The challenges we face as industry are constantly changing, and it's exciting to imagine the new tools, tactics, and strategies that are yet to evolve. Learning from the past is a critical tool in reinventing the future.

That's why many organizations use awards as a metric of success. Whether you are a professional in an agency or corporate setting, if your organization uses awards as benchmarks, you probably have a culture of innovation and are willing to take risks. If the bar is always set at doing award-winning work, then you elevate the level of all you do and truly become a workplace where best practices are the norm.

Also, award programs provide a public record of the growth of the public relations profession. Look at entries from decades ago and see the emphasis on clips compared to the entries of today that deliver real business results. Each award entry contributes to the PR body of knowledge and shapes perceptions about the industry.

So while it certainly does feel good to win, and there is a marketing benefit to being recognized as best-in-class, for most of us, it's not about ego. It's about raising that bar of excellence just a little higher.  

Christine Barney is the CEO of rbb Public Relations. She can be reached at

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