COMMENT: Platform - Winners aren’t necessarily the most deserving Glitzy industry awards reward big budgets and high profiles, but where are the prizes for longevity and originality, asks Joanne Milroy.

’A campaign associated with a new product launch is probably a less arduous challenge than changing public opinion about the reputation of an old established organisation,’suggested the publicity blurb of the Marketing/PRCA, PR Effectiveness Awards.

’A campaign associated with a new product launch is probably a less

arduous challenge than changing public opinion about the reputation of

an old established organisation,’suggested the publicity blurb of the

Marketing/PRCA, PR Effectiveness Awards.



While I applaud the awards - particularly that bit about

’effectiveness’, I can’t agree wholeheartedly with the statement.



Just about every PR practitioner I know has sat in a room with either a

prospect or an existing client and been asked to launch or achieve

coverage for a new product which, in essence, represents a marginal

change in a marginal market place.



’We want fabulous coverage for our marvellous widget’, the cry goes

up.



This is a real challenge. In comparison revamping the image of the

Mothers’ Union, the Women’s Institute or Help the Aged sounds like a

piece of cake. PR is so often about the perverse, the quirky. The fact

you are revamping the Mother’s Union is a story in itself.



Generic and ’good cause’ entries often fare well in industry

honours.



This is great but these sorts of campaigns frequently benefit from a

higher degree of residual interest from the media and the public. The

new breakfast cereal, the slightly different variant of a fizzy drink,

the new motor model with just one or two new features - are often the

more testing briefs.



I believe awards make a very valid contribution to our industry and

offer a vital showcase. However, I would like to suggest some

alternative award categories - to truly reflect some of the ultimate

challenges all of us have been presented with at sometime or other.



The Successful Second Year Award, for instance. The campaign launch may

have been fabulous (possibly even award winning), but reinvigorating the

message and keeping up the momentum is an equal task.



And what about in the years after that? So often the focus of awards is

on short, sharp, shock campaigns, not hardworking, long-running

programmes that succeed because of the commitment and creativity of the

consultancy over years and sometimes, decades.



Of course, such campaigns don’t usually excel in the sex appeal

stakes.



There are other reasons, I think, why there is a tendency for them not

to appear on the honours board. One is that such programmes don’t

usually have the neat beginning, middle and end so beloved of case study

writers.



If only communications were that tidy.



Also, sadly, we now live in world where short termism reigns. Quick ’in’

and ’out’ saturation campaigns seem to be the vogue, even if they are

not always the most strategically effective.



Specialism is growing in the industry but I do think that some of the

best campaigns involve work across all the divisions of full service

agencies.



Very few awards provide a suitable category for such a

multi-disciplinary, integrated approach.



Finally the award for campaigns with the Least Promising Support

Props.



Last year’s PRCA Awards were a case in point. While I don’t doubt the

professionalism and competence of all the winners, some had been handed

some pretty juicy goods: the first ever football investment trust; a TV

advertising icon in the shape of a fluffy puppy, and the UK’s largest

ever TV sponsorship, to name but a few.



They were all fabulous campaigns, but we should be honouring the

campaigns where real originality and ingenuity have won the day. These

are the clients, issues and products that really test a PR person’s

skills set.



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