Take greater pride in your campaigns

Local government needs to win more prizes. There were attempts to demonstrate best practice in the public sector by entrants to this year's PRWeek Awards – the winners of which will be announced in just over 11 weeks' time. But having just played a role in the judging, I was amazed by the lack of local government entries.

Perhaps this is a result of the increasing number of comms awards, with many catering for local authorities. But the real test of our success cannot be whether Telford is better than Blackburn, or beat Derby for ‘team of the year'. It is whether our campaigns can match the best of the public sector at large, from departments of state to agencies
and watchdogs.

Awards are not goals in themselves. They are historic measures of performance, and some are overrated. But the gold standard awards, such as PRWeek's annual ceremony, give us an opportunity to see how our work measures up against the public and private sector. The victories of Hackney and Stockport at the recent national CIPR Awards should inspire us.

From reading dozens of entries by agencies on behalf of their public service clients, I can see that the private sector knows that shortlisting helps business. For local authorities, the benefits are similar. Showcasing our campaigns aids recruit­ment, improves skills and validates our work, breaking the perception of dull ‘town hall PR'.

Neither should the process appear frightening. Most award submissions are long labours of love when they should be short statements of fact. In any pile of award entries, the submissions can be divided between campaigns that set a meaningful objective and can demonstrate success, and those that meander in nine-point type through a tall story with misty conclusions.

The best authorities enter awards because they are proud of their achievements, the authority and their colleagues, but they also want to test whether their standards meet the best of the rest in the sector. So, as the CIPR announces its shortlist for the September Local Government Awards, the question for those authorities is whether they will meet the challenge of benchmarking thei

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