PRWeek Awards prove edifying

Did you win? The winners' names are already inscribed on gilt cards and slotted into sealed envelopes. But you'll have to wait until October to find out if you carried off a PRWeek award.

Judging the awards is always an uplifting experience. Not only do you get to schmooze with PR's finest, you get the chance to see how your peers are tackling the issues you face every day. It's fascinating to see how others are trying to engage a public that has other things to do, to start shifting behaviour or to influence policy decisions.

The entries I judged all showed real effort and commitment, and some were excellent. Obviously, I'm sworn to secrecy about the result, but I can give two top tips for next year's would-be winners.

The first, and blindingly obvious, is... er, enter! It may seem stupid, but how many PR teams, when they see the winners, are going to say 'I coulda been a contender'? There is lots of work out there that deserves praise, but if you're not in it, you can't win it.

Next, demonstrate outcomes. That means simply that you need to show you had an impact. The award categories spell it out - 'the most effective use of PR', 'the most effective campaign or communications programme on a single topic'. Most PR professionals can do a good job of selling their work.

But just showing you've been seen is not enough. It's amazing how many eyeballs are claimed to be fixed on these campaigns. But if those eyeballs flick past and forget in 20 seconds, that's not effective.

Changing behaviour has become central to the public sector. Sure, delivering services, running institutions and investing in infrastructure remain key tasks. But getting people to change the way they act voluntarily is the way to deal with complex problems sustainably and efficiently.

There were plenty of examples on display of PR campaigns that had done just that. But there were others where it was hard to see what had changed as a result of the hard work and creativity.

So, roll on the awards dinner. And the winner is...

Paul Mylrea is director of comms at the Department for International Development.

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