BEING IN IT TO WIN IT: Getting on to the PR Week Awards podium isn’t as difficult as it may seem, as Stephen Farish explains

There is a moment at awards ceremonies, just as the drums begin to roll, when everyone’s imagination kicks into overdrive.

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

three-year old-consultancies.

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.


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

concrete results.


’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,

Larkspur Communications

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.’

Lynn Shepherd,

public affairs manager,

Guinness plc

Best Use of Sponsorship 1996.

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