It’s time to call it: PRWeek’s 2020 U.S. events are going virtual

In the interests of safety, clarity and future planning, PRWeek will transition its awards, conferences and other live events to virtual environments for the rest of the year – including the PRWeek Awards, which will take place online on July 30.

Photo credit: Erica Berger
Photo credit: Erica Berger

It’s fair to say 2020 hasn’t turned out quite like anyone expected. 

At the start of the year, no-one had heard the term “COVID-19.” But the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented implications have quickly come to dominate 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond.

It has changed everything: life, society, healthcare, politics, business and, yes, PR.

Safeguarding the health of our employees, readers, event attendees and customers has always been, and will continue to be, our top priority at PRWeek. We have adhered to and closely follow CDC and federal, state and local authority guidance, especially when it comes to meetings and live events.

Pre-lockdown, we took the difficult but necessary decision to postpone our highest-profile live event of the year  the PRWeek U.S. Awards, or the “Oscars of the PR industry,” which were due to be presented at a gala celebration in New York City on March 19.

We hoped to convene for this wonderful celebration of the PR industry in a live setting later in 2020. It is now clear this is no longer desirable or advisable.

Everybody is, rightly, concentrating 100% of their efforts on taking care of their people, clients, customers and other stakeholders. You are dealing with the challenges of this exceptionally difficult business environment while trying to plan for a return to office-based working and the new reality of what that environment will look like.

On the client side, you are prioritizing the physical and mental well-being of your staffers, safeguarding your brand and corporate reputation, and doubling down on supplying the needs of your customers.

On the agency side, you are counseling clients on crisis communications, reputation management and employee engagement. You are also debuting exceptional examples of creativity fashioned in this lockdown environment. And, of course, looking after your people too.

The appetite for convening large groups of people for events in live physical spaces and traveling across the country to do so just isn’t there at the moment. People are focused on keeping their families safe, doing their job to the best of their ability while working from home and just getting through this crazy period.

Because of this, we are transitioning the PRWeek U.S. Awards to a virtual setting and will present them live online on July 30.

Our Hall of Femme gala dinner and collective, a celebration of female role models and future leaders in the PR industry, will take place virtually on September 17.

Our PR Decoded: Purpose in Action conference and 2020 Purpose Awards were originally planned to be held in the fall in Chicago. These will now also transition to live virtual environments on October 14-15 and will not take place in a physical setting in 2020. The first deadline for Purpose Awards submissions is June 8.

The PRWeek 40 Under 40 gala dinner, which honors the next generation of PR superstars, will be presented in a virtual environment on October 29. We’re still keeping our options open for the Hall of Fame dinner on December 7, which recognizes legends of the PR industry, and the judging for the 2021 PRWeek Awards, set for the same day.

Necessity is the mother of invention and we already instigated an engaging virtual environment for our Brand Film Awards, which took place on May 7 and can be seen here on catchup. Our PRWeek Global Awards were presented online on May 19-21.

We have conducted extremely popular PRWeek Convene virtual events, on Communicating in the Coronavirus Era and Dashboard communications technology. Convene: Health & Well-Being is set for June 17.

It is inevitable that virtual will now be an intrinsic part of all PRWeek events moving forward, whether they also happen physically or not.

We appreciate your patience and support as we all navigate these dynamic and trying times and we pledge to continue to provide the best coverage, analysis and insight about the PR industry to help you do your jobs effectively.

We’re also profiling the most inspiring and creative case studies of PR pros really stepping up to the plate to help their people, clients and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, in our general editorial coverage but also through our new Coffee Break and Lockdown Life segments.

Stay safe and know that PRWeek will always be there to reflect the great work all of you do. Together we will tackle the challenges facing our industry and the world in general. And we look forward to meeting up with you in person in 2021 and resuming our convening role in physical (and virtual) live environments.

In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions, suggestions, feedback or just tips on staying sane after three months in isolation.

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