Public Sector: PR award entries a credit to sector

I spent two days last week judging PR awards and, I have to say, it gave me a really different perspective on our industry.

Firstly, all credit to the organisers who have the labyrinthine task of getting all the entries in and arranging several days of judging panels for each category, with scores and comments all faithfully recorded. Awards are sensitive items, into which many a PR chief has poured a lot of sweat and personal effort, so mislabelling an entry or mis-recording a score simply cannot happen.

As for the entries themselves, it was notable how often the 'gold' leapt out of the box, a clear winner in every category, particularly in the public sector. My favourites were, without giving too much away, those that took a conventional idea and really turned it on its head to create something genuinely 'new' and innovative.

In all these cases, it was also clear that however clever the initial germ of an idea - be it an NHS publication, council handbook, or publicly-funded web initiative - an awful lot of very thorough, thought-through, detailed work had then gone into the execution.

Some of the entries were simply good fun - such as those using interactive surveys or games aimed at particular audiences. Or those using a mix of graphics and viewer/reader engagement to pull you into the issue. In fact, there was everything from the sublime, to the ridiculous, to the downright sloppy. The number of entries that put the wrong category number on documentation was extraordinary. As for the organisation with a glaring spelling mistake on its entry for 'publication of the year', the less said the better.

On the whole, though, we as a panel were all struck by the sheer ingenuity, enthusiasm and level of effort that went into those winners. What a credit to the public sector. How encouraging to think that some of our taxes are actually spent on really excellent, clever, meaningful communications. I know which entries I will be cheering for at the awards dinner.

Luke Blair is a director at the London Communications Agency

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