Luke Blair: In award entries, avoid jargon and answer the question

I did a stint judging public sector award entries for the CIPR last week and, as usual with these kinds of things, it threw up some interesting issues.

Luke Blair: CIPR judge
Luke Blair: CIPR judge

For example, I couldn’t help noticing how everyone was now trying to demonstrate how digitally ‘switched on’ they were.  Some pulled it off, some didn’t. Some, it was clear, were trying to use digital jargon, graphics or evaluation to distract from an underlying lack of ideas or content.

There was a plethora of CDs, memory sticks, and other ‘supplementary materials’ which I thought, at least in once case, might even be freebies aimed at bribing the first person to open the award entry box.

Others had genuinely used new media like networking sites or really interactive website-based channels to achieve remarkable results, often in socially important areas such as delivering services to hard-to-reach groups.

Aside from this, it was odd how many had simply not addressed the question, exam-style, such as setting out their business objectives and indicating to what extent their PR activities had actually been measured against these. 

It was also notable how many had delivered so much with so little – with small teams of two or three people, tiny budgets, or budgets which at the same time were being drastically reduced.

There were of course entries from public sector bodies delivering incredibly worthy work which it was difficult to judge objectively in terms of actual results achieved – or at least, difficult without feeling slightly hard-hearted.

All good stuff. But the entry which I and my fellow judges felt really hit the spot, in every way, was perhaps the one which was the least flashy, or jargonistic, or filled with graphics or extra materials.

All it did, in a series of well written, black and white bullet points was answer each question, succinctly, simply and powerfully. 

There is very little which can compete with clear evidence of organisational or corporate objectives achieved through clever, well thought out and skilfully executed PR work. 

And you don’t need a flashy diagram or some kind of digital format to prove that point.

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