There is a moment at awards ceremonies, just as the drums begin to
roll, when everyone’s imagination kicks into overdrive.
Even if you haven’t entered the category, even if you are only there as
someone else’s guest, your mind envisages what it would be like to step
up and claim the prize.
There you are: waiting for the spotlight to pick you out, and for that
famous television personality up on stage to pluck your name from the
golden envelope to the rapturous applause of your peers.
However, back on planet Earth, there is surprisingly less wishful
thinking needed to put you in serious contention for a gong.
The PR Week Awards attract around 550 entries, and 1,200 guests on the
night. But exactly what is it that makes the difference between the 27
winners and the rest?
First, let’s shatter the myth that the awards only go to big London
Last year nine winners, nine commendations and 19 finalists came from
outside London. As well as this, 12 in-house teams managed to scoop up
Nor is it just big budget work that wins - the judges are looking for
cost effectiveness and a small budget that is made to go a long way will
almost certainly defeat a campaign which is impressive only for the size
of its spend.
But there are some basic ground rules that would-be winners should
always bear in mind. In particular, an incredible number of entrants
waste their entry fees every year by not reading the rules, or by
imagining that they are somehow exempt from them.
Where the rules stipulate two pages of submission only, they send three
or four. Where the rules ask for budgets, they leave them out. If the
category is for companies which are under two years old, they enter
There is a knack to winning awards. But making sure you fulfil all the
entry criteria is the easy bit. Creating work which stands out from the
crowd is the hard part.
After every judging session, the judges come to the same conclusion.
Of the hundreds of submissions that have passed before their eyes there
will invariably have been a few turkeys, a large amount of solid
professional work, and then a few sparkling gems.
A well-executed campaign which is properly presented will always score
well, but it needs that extra touch of creativity and inspiration to
make the judges really sit up and take notice. This doesn’t necessarily
mean the kind of wild and wacky creativity that involves spending
client’s money on stunts that have precious little to do with the brief,
rather imaginative, intelligent and informed responses to a client’s
real needs and objectives win the day. Above all, the campaign has to be
able to show some impressive results.
If you can make the judges think ’I wish I’d done that’, then you’re
halfway to the podium.
One final tip. If you don’t enter you can’t win.
The closing deadline for entries to the 1997 PR Week Awards is Friday 18
July. The awards dinner is at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Wednesday 29
For entry forms and more information, call Lisa Patnick at Haymarket
Events on 0171 413 4391.
THE JUDGES’ DECISIONS ARE FINAL, BUT FAIR
Who are the judges? Half of the 24-strong judging panel are drawn
equally from public relations consultancies and in-house departments,
from a range of industry sectors and specialisms. The rest are drawn
from the worlds of journalism and broadcasting, and related areas - such
as marketing directors, MPs and City analysts. This year’s chairman of
the judges is Margaret Thatcher’s former press secretary and PR Week
columnist Sir Bernard Ingham.
How does the judging work? The judging takes place over two days. On the
first day the judges are divided into six mini-panels each of which
considers a selection of categories. Judges discuss the entries with
each other but allot their own marks individually. The top scoring
entries (up to a maximum of five) in each category go through to the
final round of judging on the second day. On the second day, 12 of the
original panel meet to consider the shortlisted entries. Once again each
judge gives their individual marks to each entry after group discussion.
The winners and commendations are decided on the basis of the first and
second round totals. But keeping each judge’s marks confidential, the
identities of the winners are able to remain a closely guarded secret
until Awards night.
What are the judges looking for? The rules say that the judges will look
for evidence of ’outcome, creativity, relation to objective, and cost
effectiveness’.The winners will need to show all of the above, but they
also need a bit extra - something to make the judges wish they’d thought
of the idea. And they need to demonstrate the success of the work with
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
’It is punch the air time when you win. An award serves as a touchstone
for both staff and clients. For a company like ours, where we are short
on history, it helps us to be long on credentials.’
David Fuller, partner,
The Red Consultancy,
Consultancy of the Year 1996
’Unlike other marketing disciplines, there are relatively few awards
kicking around, which makes it all the more important to win. It has an
effect both internally - re-energising staff and existing clients - as
well as in terms of new business.’
Matt Fearnley director,
Small Consultancy and Best Business Campaign 1996
’It was highly satisfying from both from our point of view and the
client’s to receive this award.’
MaryLee Sachs, MD of marcoms,
Hill and Knowlton
Best Consumer Campaign 1996
’In terms of raising the profile of the project was brilliant. If you
are going to win an award, this is one of the best ones to get.’
public affairs manager,
Best Use of Sponsorship 1996.