The advent of the Assembly and the growth of civic and commercial confidence in our urban centres have made a big difference - there's now a greater need to engage, to network, to work together, to communicate with the public.
Welsh businesses are growing and developing; indeed, if present trends continue, we will see the benefits of a new spirit of entrepreneurship and business confidence. Wales has opportunities in the enlarged Europe, where many of the newest nations face similar challenges and admire our achievements. Even our sporting heroes and artists are making a greater impression in the international arena, creating PR opportunities to raise Wales' profile. PR and public affairs are vital to reaching our goals, and the key to achieving that is excellence in practice, strategy and implementation. Let's show the world what we can do, and persuade others they can benefit from using our skills.
Marc Evans MIPR, chairman, IPR Cymru Wales
For the record, some of my best friends are exponents of the art of public relations - and oh yes, my girlfriend is too. As business editor of the Western Mail I get more calls from the PR world than arguably anyone else on the paper. Your mission is to get coverage for your wonderful clients on the business pages of the Western Mail and even better if words appear in the Wednesday Business Wales supplement. In South Wales alone I guess there more than 100 PR practitioners, both consultancy and in-house, who have our business pages high on the hit list of clients. There are just two of us on the business desk, with no secretary to deflect or deter the daily assault from the PR machine.
To be honest we wouldn't have it any other way. Most of what comes our way is unusable, but I take a pragmatic view. Like a salesman who knocks on ten doors to convert one into a sale, I have the same approach in regards to usable press releases from PR land. But the best stories are always from good contacts without a press release in sight. So keep trying, even if you send the same release to every journalist on the Western Mail in the hope that it might be used. One day I could join your ranks, but for the moment I would rather take your calls than have to make them.
Sion Barry, business editor, Western Mail
AWARD WINNERS PICK UP THEIR ACCOLADES
GOLD AWARD - PR TEAM OF THE YEAR - CONSULTANCY
Warwick Emanuel - Established three years ago, Warwick Emanuel PR concentrates on clients in the utility and public sectors, including Welsh Water, energy company Swalec and e-learning provider Learndirect. The judges said that in the potential minefield of politics and different businesses, it has shown the ability to pull together the strands and implement coherent comms strategies.
When it comes to its own people, WE PR is very team-focused, with minimal hierarchy and a sensible approach to work/life balance, the judges said. The agency takes personal and professional development seriously and rewards staff who bring in new business, while development is linked to a bonus scheme. Consultants are encouraged to work across accounts and the agency carries out an impressive range of not-for-profit charity work.
GOLD AWARD - OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Helen Northmore-Thomas - A finalist in the Young Communicator of the year, Helen Northmore-Thomas is the winner of the inaugural IPR Cymru Wales PRide Award for Outstanding Achievement. The accolade reflects not only her skill as an account director with Cardiff-based public affairs agency Grayling Wales, but her tireless work as honorary treasurer of the IPR Cymru Wales Group. She has contributed a huge amount to the IPR in Wales this year, the chairman of the judges said, and the Wales PRide awards came about largely because of her enthusiasm and hard work. At other IPR events and on the group committee, her energy and commitment helped to achieve the current success of the IPR in Wales, which now has a continuously growing membership.
GOLD AWARD - GRAND PRIX
MGB PR: The Mask Operation A clever, innovative piece of work for a difficult brief, said the judges. The restructuring of professional rugby in Wales had left The Ospreys, an amalgamation of the Neath and Swansea clubs, coping with disengaged fans who were formerly rivals. Interest was waning, with ticket sales low. MGB's tactic, which was to create an unofficial mask logo for the new team, produced a highly creative and well-integrated campaign that delivered outstanding value for money. Guerrilla marketing suggested that the agency had a lot of fun with the campaign, which included sourcing a masked streaker to infiltrate rivals' games. The panel was impressed by the consistent use of an eye-catching and striking imagery through a range of highly creative techniques to capture the imagination.
SILVER AWARD - CONSULTANCY VALUE SPONSORED BY THE PRCA - FRESH WATER PR
Cardiff Screen Festival Judges said that the dual virtues of creativity and good, old-fashioned hard work were to the fore in a campaign that was timely and topical with good outcomes. As well as putting the event on the Welsh arts map, it managed to double audience figures and therefore proved very good value. A highly competent and well-executed campaign.
SILVER AWARD - CHARITY OR NON-PROFIT CAMPAIGN - WORKING WORD PR
Adult Learners Week
The judges thought this was a very creative, innovative drive that grabbed the public's attention. The idea involved bicycles and the 'cover-all-bases' involvement of both a celebrity and a government minister. It worked, too - the quality of implementation was good and the campaign was shown to boost adult learner participation to an all-time high.
SILVER AWARD - NEWSLETTER - BT WALES & GRAYLING WALES
This newsletter achieves its objectives and proves it by evaluating them.
The editorial content is honest, simple and concise. It catches the eye and gets to the point quickly, while making it clear that it has a defined target audience and purpose. The panel also liked the creative use of the research in this entry.
GOLD AWARD - ISSUES OR CRISIS MANAGEMENT CAMPAIGN - WARWICK EMANUEL
The Pendragon Windfarm
The panel felt that this campaign was well thought-through and that it engaged effectively with the stakeholders in the community. The programme showed evidence of sound planning and good positioning, with both a clear strategy and clear messaging.
A real effort had been made to communicate with the local community, and there was evidence of a positive reception.
SILVER AWARD - INTEGRATED PR CAMPAIGN - VIBE PR
Greens of Southern Wales
This was a good, solid campaign, said the judges in this category. Vibe's team demonstrated a breadth of experience through its use of a wide range of implementation techniques. The Greens of Southern Wales campaign also encompassed some interesting creative ideas that pushed a strong brand identity to the fore.
SILVER AWARD - USE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATION - CAERPHILLY COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL
Unlock the Potential
Displaying an excellent use throughout this campaign of the initial research it was provided with, Caerphilly County Borough Council was able to demonstrate good integration for this programme using research and strategy. The judges said activities engaged well with the audience, making it good value for money and successfully raising awareness of objectives in the action plan.
SILVER AWARD - PUBLIC AFFAIRS/LOBBYING PROGRAMME - VIBE PR
Care Forum Wales
A systematic campaign for this not-for-profit organisation representing independent health and social care services throughout Wales. Vibe used a well-organised combination of political briefings and creative publicity to achieve demonstrable results, and the calibre of the team's expertise shone through. A prime example of PR and public affairs fuelling each other to benefit the community.
SILVER AWARD - BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS CAMPAIGN - GOLLEY SLATER
EU Clinical Trials Directive
This was a sound, well-targeted campaign on a limited budget in an area that isn't perceived to be sexy, said the judges. This health-related business-to-business programme reaped the benefits from what was obviously some clear thinking beforehand about what was required, with the team showing direct business results.
CONSUMER CAMPAIGN GOLD AWARD - MGB PR
The Mask Campaign
Clever, innovative piece of work for a very difficult brief. Highly creative and well-integrated drive delivering outstanding value for money.
SILVER AWARD - GOLLEY SLATER PR
Bread for all Seasons
PR with marketing, the support of local sport and a seasonal approach kept the campaign fresh.
SILVER AWARD - ROYAL MAIL GROUP
Beauty of Wales Stamps
Different approach, with good use of locations, opinion formers and activities to grab various audiences.
LOW-BUDGET CAMPAIGN GOLD AWARD - VIBE PR
Miss Wales 2003
Nice, quirky ideas showing skill and success in selling to the media.
SILVER AWARD - FRESHWATER PR
Cardiff Screen Festival
A well-run drive that helped double audiences and put the event on the Welsh cultural calendar.
SILVER AWARD - VIBE PR
A stylish campaign with strong identification of audiences.
TRADE OR TECHNICAL CAMPAIGN
SILVER AWARD - WARWICK EMANUEL PR
The Carbon Trust in Wales
This commendable entry from Warwick Emanuel was highly creative in its method of presentation to the client's key audience. The proof of this came through the significant endorsement the client received from businesses.
The success of the programme bore out the campaign's careful positioning of the client as a credible commentator on energy and sustainability issues.
SMALL TEAM/SOLE PRACTITIONER
WINNER - CAMBRENSIS COMMUNICATIONS
Small is only a Frame of Mind It might be a small team, but Cambrensis Communications demonstrates a clear passion for its highly varied work, said the judges. Founded in 1990, the Cardiff-based agency shows real commitment to clients whose areas of expertise range from broadcast to national heritage. The agency's ability to deliver results across a wide range of projects is impressive.
SILVER AWARD - ROYAL MAIL GROUP
Beauty of Wales Stamps
The Royal Mail campaign, which celebrated the coastline and countryside of Wales, was sound and achieved a good level of coverage and endorsements by key influencers. A successful launch was at the heart of the campaign's achievements. The evaluation clearly showed the effectiveness of the campaign through a marked increase in sales of stamps.
RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME
SILVER AWARD - GOLLEY SLATER PR
Red Dragon FM
The judges felt that, in this day and age, it is quite a difficult feat to sustain a relationship for six years - thus demonstrating that this is a mutually-beneficial union. And PR is evidently an integral part of the marketing mix, they said, adding value to Red Dragon's profile among listeners in its communities.
GOLD AWARD - BT WALES
A fine example of a locally focused campaign that used a range of mechanisms to push its key messages to stakeholders. In fact, so trail-blazing was this drive from BT Wales, that it has been replicated elsewhere with some success.
The panel of judges was impressed by the programme's evaluation, which they said was particularly good.
WINNER - LYDIA SPOONER
Warwick Emanuel PR
A close-run thing. Lydia Spooner, 25, has worked for two years for Warwick Emanuel PR in Cardiff. Graduating from Cardiff University in 2001 with a first class BA in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting, she gained a distinction on the IPR-accredited postgraduate diploma in PR. She manages six accounts, including Welsh Water and the Carbon Trust in Wales. All finalists can be found at www.ipr.org.uk/prideawards.