Or have you finished them, but just not sure if they’re good enough? Did you know that every year, we see entries get pushed aside not because the campaign or component wasn’t creative, effective and successful, but because the entry wasn’t – as in wasn’t creative, effective, well-presented.
It’s not enough to show what you did – you need to show how you did it and the outcome of the project.
To help answer any nagging questions you may have, here are some things to consider as you complete your entries:
Before Preparing Your Entry:
- Take the time to determine if your entry is truly award-winning. Did you make an impact on the organization’s bottom-line? Was there a reason for doing the program in the first place? If you can’t come up with a good reason for doing the award entry (besides “my boss wants me to do it”), you will have a hard time putting it together.
- Know the entry criteria. Many award entries are submitted without measurable objectives or outcomes, budgets or timelines. If you leave out information that is requested in the entry form, you will lose points. If you follow the four-step strategic planning process for program entries (Research, Planning, Execution and Evaluation), you are more likely to have a good entry.
- Think long and hard about your objectives. They should outline what you’re trying to accomplish as a result of your entry. Remember, the objective is not the entry itself.
- Objectives should be SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
Research/Evaluation (these tend to be the weakest areas for many entries):
- You might have done informal research without even realizing it. Look back at your records; did you talk with personal contacts, key informants, advisory committees and boards, and field employees about the issue? That’s informal research. Your evaluation should iterate your objectives verbatim and then show how you achieved them specifically.
- Even though qualitative data can work for evaluation purposes and explaining results, it’s always good to build in quantitative data as well.
- Identify ways you can evaluate a program and build evaluation in at the beginning. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can still plan some measurement capability.
- Provide back-up materials for your summary. If you talk about something in your one- or two-page summary, please include with your submission. The judges want to see evidence of your hard work, so be sure to show it off!
Before Submitting to the Awards Committee:
- Don’t worry if one of your sections isn’t as strong as another. As long as the section is addressed, it should be okay.
- When in doubt, submit. Forces beyond your control – such as the number of entrants in a category, judges’ prerogatives, etc. – have a lot to do with winning. Besides, the exercise you go through in assessing your work and putting it together according to PRSA qualifications is worth the exercise, because it sets you up to evaluate your own work. You can often make use of this in making a case for continuing a program, launching a new one, or increasing the budget to do more.
- Proofread your entry carefully! If you have a typo in the summary (which we’ve seen happen!), the judges are very likely to take your entry less seriously than they would that of a well-written summary.
And of course, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our chapter office at 301-725-2508 and ask away.
Finally, here are some more tips from past winners and judges (click here and here for more tips).
Avoid silly errors – proofread.
“Dot your “I’s” and cross your “t’s.” Make sure you address every single element in the submission. And, have someone outside your organization proof your entry because believe me, you are too close to it! It’s so easy for your submission to be tossed aside by a judge because of a silly error that ruins all your hard work. “ Lisa Coster, Coster Communications
Be concise and clear.
“Be very clear and concise and don’t be afraid to enter…go for it!” Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot PR
Start early and include your research!
“For anyone entering this year’s BIM, start those nominations early! In the fast-paced world of PR, the last thing you want to do is be scrambling to get your nomination in under the wire. Also, don’t forget to include details for the research phase of any project you’re entering. Many overlook this portion of their submission in favor of the actual PR execution or results, but as any good PR pro knows, that research is absolutely critical to the success of any campaign, especially an award-winning one.” Courtney Benhoff, Abel Communications
#BIM17 logo designed by Devaney & Associates
We have more tips from past winners on how to make sure you take home that award.
#5: Research and evaluation determine the winner.
“All creative being equal, the research and evaluation portions of an award entry determine the winner.” Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers Insurance
#6: Hold your entry to the same standards as your other communications products.
“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Communications Department is laser focused on producing high-quality products in support of the CF community. Naturally, when we created our PRSA BIM Blog submission, we held it to the same high standard as any other communications product. We carefully reviewed application criteria and provided thoughtful answers, which were backed up by data. For those considering applying for this year’s PRSA BIM award(s), if you do one thing, remember that quality always matters, so create a best in class submission – one that answers all questions precisely and comprehensively, demonstrates creativity, and shows that you listened well to your audience.” Amanda Sobanet, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
#7: Don’t disqualify yourself before you even try.
“I think the judges understand every project is unique and has limitations, often in terms of budget and/or client flexibility. I would urge those thinking about entering BIM not to overly worry about these things and not to disqualify themselves before they have even tried. We were very excited to win and it meant a lot.” Adam Shapiro, ASPR
#8: Follow directions!
“It sounds so simple, but follow the directions in the call for entries. You don’t want your entry to be disqualified for a reason not at all related to your work. Make sure you include all of the required components, and submit it exactly as it’s requested. It’s worth it to spend the time putting together a thoughtful, complete entry.” Kelsey Pospisil O’Planick, News Generation, Inc.
Click here for tips #1-4
Click here to get started …
Are you starting to think about what to submit to this year’s Best in Maryland awards competition? Or have you started working on your entries? Either way, here are a few tips from past winners on how to make sure you take home that award …
#1: Start early!
“The biggest piece of advice we can give is to start early. You may be surprised by the amount of time it takes to craft a solid, compelling entry – it isn’t something you want to rush!” Kendall Blair, Vitamin
#2: Find your “best fit.”
“Carefully review all of the award categories to determine what would be a “best fit” for any nomination you might be planning to submit. Also, having previously served as an award judge, I recommend that nominations be as concise as possible; having clearly stated measurable objectives and results.” Dan Dunne, Erickson Living.
#3: Have a sound strategy and measure!
“One piece of advice for someone entering this year’s BIM awards is to focus on 2 things: sound strategy and measurement early and often. The digital landscape allows us to have access to more data than we know how to handle – showing that you used some type of data insight to develop your campaign will position you well. And get creative with measurement. The number of free tools at your disposal allows us to measure PR impact better than ever before, and even more creatively than ever with the use of free infographic tools and dashboards.” Caitlin Wolf, Planit.
#4: Use this as a PR exercise.
“Have a good product. Don’t enter because you want to win an award. Enter because it is a PR exercise. You get recognition from an established group and brand exposure. Our team was very proud of our win – and our teamwork.” Brooks Paternotte, Irvine Nature Center
Read tips #5-8 here.
Click here to get started …
Here’s a peek into News Generation, Inc.‘s winning campaign in Media Relations – Assoc/Nonprofit/Govt category: Educating and Empowering Americans with Financial Literacy.
Finances. It is a frequent, sometimes difficult, but necessary topic of conversation between spouses, parents and children, and adults and their parents. The American Bankers Association (ABA) works to make this necessary conversation and subsequent action and preparedness as seamless and easy to understand as possible. Representing banks across the United States, the ABA works to educate, inform and empower people to take control of their finances, or those of family members in their care. To leverage the newsworthy and timely resources, tools and information it offers, ABA engaged a media strategy heavily focused on earned radio outreach. ABA partnered with News Generation, a broadcast media relations firm based in Bethesda, to develop, pitch and implement an effective media relations outreach campaign.
Together they launched a cohesive campaign of six messages, and six resulting radio media tours, working toward the goal of educating the public on the role hometown banks play in helping economic growth and empowering Americans with financial literacy. Sixty radio interviews were secured, with highlights including interviews that aired nationally on NBC News Radio (formerly 24/7 News Source at the time), Bloomberg Network, Compass Media Networks, and American Urban Radio Network. As well as airings on statewide or metro-area interviews with 16 different networks, and airings on the top news and top news-talk stations in Atlanta, Detroit, San Antonio, Fargo-Valley City, and Rapid City, as ranked by Nielsen.
The radio media tours reached a total of 74,754,470 listeners, almost 25 percent above the initial goal set out by the collaborating teams. The campaign delivered an incredible cost per point (CPP) of $.00037, or less than four one-hundredths of one penny, to reach each listener. The American Bankers Association saw engagement in the areas the radio media tours focused on, largely contributing to the advancement and awareness of the association, its focus and multi-faceted expertise.
According to Nielsen, the leading company on global information and media measurement, 93 percent of people 12 years of age and older listen to the radio each week. In addition, radio interviews allow reporters to engage the spokesperson, seeking clarity from experts and steering content towards their anticipated audience needs.
News Generation compiled the most relevant and newsworthy information into the media pitch. The pitching team extensively researched the most appropriate national and statewide networks, as ranked by Nielsen, as well as media markets in which the most relevant coverage would best represent its largest news or news-talk station. News Generation personally pitched each reporter, host and producer via telephone and email to secure the most relevant interviews based on top listenership and market rank. This all earned-media strategic approach focused on securing quality interviews with highly-ranked networks and stations to maximize on-air time for ABA.
News Generation, Inc. received an Award of Excellence for its work with ABA. Click here for a list of all 2016 Best in Maryland winners.
A. Bright Idea Wins Best in Show Award
Communications excellence and the effective practice of public relations took center stage at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala recently hosted by PRSA Maryland at the Belvedere Hotel. Top honors this year went to A. Bright Idea, LLC, advertising and public relations agency headquartered in Bel Air, Md., for its integrated communications program – “U.S. Army National Guard Action Events” – and, to the communications department of Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, which won PR Team of the Year award.
Several individual public relations practitioners also received top honors: Louise Lake Hayman received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Loyola University’s Veronica Gunnerson was recognized as Educator of the Year; and, AECOM’s Lauren Michelotti was honored as PRSA Maryland’s New Professional of the Year.
The awards were presented at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala, which was held at The Belvedere Hotel on Thursday, December 8, 2016. This year’s event emcee was President and CEO of Clapp Communications Barb Clapp and National Geographic Magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg was the event’s keynote speaker.
In addition to presenting awards across multiple categories for communications and public relations excellence to more than two dozen area businesses, nonprofits, associations, and government agencies, PRSA Maryland also recognized outgoing President Dan Dunne, APR, of Erickson Living, and welcomed incoming President Claudia Ciolfi, manager of public relations and strategic communications at Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company.
A complete list of honorees and award recipients can be found by clicking here.
A. Bright Idea wins Best in Show
Photo caption: Pictured left to right are: (A. Bright Idea representatives Leanne Eck, interactive designer, and Kevin Hess, communications events specialist, accept the Best in Show award from PRSA Maryland Chapter President Daniel Dunne, APR, Director of Communications, Erickson Living, at the association’s awards gala in Baltimore.
Photo courtesy of Harry Bosk PR & Photography
It’s hard to believe that after months of planning and some finger-crossing on behalf of the entrants/nominees, the Best in Maryland program came to a close last week … and what a close it was! Coupled with high quality entries and tough competition on the awards side, and a top-notch venue, an outstanding keynote, and some exciting surprises on the Gala side, this year’s awards program was a resounding success. A great finish to the Chapter’s 55th year. (Check out Jeff Davis’ recap of the Gala.)
Of course, none of this can happen without the support of our sponsors and volunteers so we would like to take a few minutes to once again thank you all:
To our #BIM16 sponsors, because none of this can happen without your contribution and support …
for helping us put on this great event
Premier sponsor and VIP
for your continuing support of the Chapter
for creating our #BIM16 design
Harry Bosk PR & Photography
for giving us your time and expertise
(pictures coming soon!)
PCA | An RR Donnelley Company
for providing all our printing needs with a smile
(even those last-minute items)
Flowers & Fancies
for providing our wonderful centerpieces
for sponsoring the keynote Susan Goldberg
(she was amazing!).
We also want to thank our VIPs – your support helped us afford those few extras that made the evening sparkle … A. Bright Idea, LLC, BGE, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, Crosby Marketing, Erickson Living, Planit, and Lifetime Achievement Honoree Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA.
To our #BIM16 volunteers for finding a way to balance our needs with your day jobs …
- Dana Cohen, Clapp Communications
- Lauren Moyer, Clapp Communications
- Sarah Tuccitto, Clapp Communications
- Timmy Ruppersberger, Clapp Communications
- Daniel Dunne, APR, Erickson Living
- Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
- Amanda Nolan, The Associated
- Nancy Sherman, The Caroline Center
- Dani Baldassare, Erickson Living
- Lisa Coster, Coster Communications, LTD
- Blaine Dunford
See you all next year!