The Best in Maryland Awards program is not just about the call for entries. The Professional Awards are a major part of the program, honoring new and seasoned PR pros for their individual contributions and successes. You can be part of this by submitting a nomination in one or more of the following categories …
Lifetime Achievement – PRSA Maryland’s top award recognizes long-time PR pros who have exhibited extraordinary achievements and demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field. Past LT winners include Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA; Ralph Crosby; Bonnie K. Heneson; Helen Szablya; Jody Aud, and more. Help us continue this tradition by submitting your choice for this top honor.
PR Team Award – We all know that most great PR programs are a team effort. This is a chance to honor your high-performing communications team for its outstanding support of your clients’ and your organization’s communications objectives. New last year, it was a tough competition with Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company taking home the honor. Nominate your team and be the second to receive this award.
Rising Star (formerly New Professional of the Year) – This award is like a jump start to those just starting out in PR or communications by honoring their dedication and commitment to being the best. This year, we’ve extended the requirement from three or fewer years to five or fewer years, which should make it even more competitive. This category heats up so don’t delay.
Educator of the Year – Educators are an integral part of our industry building strong public relations/communications programs and inspiring PR pros of tomorrow. This award is for those teachers/professors who go above and beyond that task. Past recipients include educators from Loyola University Maryland, Towson University and Stevenson University. There are many more great programs out there; nominate your favorite teacher.
Partner of Distinction – Let’s not forget another important team member – our vendors. This award honors those organizations which through their services have shown overwhelming support of a public relations/communications program or the profession as a whole. They go above and beyond to make your program a success. Let us know who they are by submitting a nomination.
And our newest award named in honor of past Chapter president and long-time PRSA member …
Paul E. Welsh Award – We can’t forget our colleagues that are mid-career stars. This award honors PR pros who are successful in the field with at least 10 years’ experience. Paul E Welsh is credited with creating our state’s nickname, “America in Miniature.” What better way to honor the past and the present.
Click here for more information and nomination forms!
Sponsorship Opportunities …
Want to show your support of these awards while getting in front of the Maryland PR community? Become a PROFESSIONAL AWARDS HOST. Not only will you be featured on the PRSA Maryland Web site and in 2017 BIM magazine (new this year), you’ll also present the awards during the 2017 Best in Maryland Gala on December 6 at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court.
Not interested in being an awards host? We also plenty of other sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Click here for a full list.
Best in Maryland Sponsors to date …
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 …