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A panel of judges made up of public relations professionals from The Phoenix Chapter will review entries and select winners. Judges may only present one Best in Maryland award and up to two other entries for an Award of Excellence in each category. Judges reserve the right to not select an award in a given category. Judges also reserve the right to re-categorize materials. The decisions of the judges are final. Finalists will be notified in October and winners announced at the Best In Maryland Virtual Gala on Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Note: We cannot stress enough how important it is to address each criteria listed below. Entries that do not provide sufficient details will receive low scores or be disqualified. This includes keeping your initial summary for each campaign or component entry to no more than 2 pages (and yes, entries have been disqualified in the past for summaries over 2 pages!).

Judging Criteria – Campaign Categories

Research: Each entry will be judged for the quality of original or secondary research and its relevance to overall planning and audience identification. Questions to consider in preparing your entry:

  • What prompted the research? Was it in response to an existing problem, or does it examine a potential problem?
  • What type of research did you use — primary, secondary or both? Primary research involves original research, including focus groups, interviews and surveys. Secondary research involves searching existing resources for information or data related to a particular need, strategy or goal (e.g., online computer database searches, Web-based research, library searches, industry reports and internal market analyses).
  • How was the research relevant to shaping the planning process?
  • How did the research help define or redefine the audience(s) or the situation?

Planning: Judges will look for clearly defined objectives, strategies, originality, judgment in selected strategy and techniques, accuracy of budget, thoroughness of the plan of action, and difficulties encountered/overcome. Questions to consider in preparing your entry:

  • How did the plan correlate to the research findings?
  • What was the plan in general terms?
  • What were the specific, measurable objectives of the plan?
  • Who were the target audiences?
  • What was the overall strategy used?
  • What was your budget?

Execution: Judges will examine plan implementation, materials used, appropriateness of tactics to the objectives, creativity, in-progress adjustments to the plan, techniques in winning management support and other public relations techniques, difficulties encountered and effectiveness of the program’s employment of dollars, personnel and other resources. Questions to consider in preparing your entry:

  • How was the plan executed, and what was the outcome?
  • How did the activities flow in general terms?
  • What were the key tactics?
  • Were there any difficulties encountered? If so, how were they handled?
  • Were other organizations involved?
  • Were nontraditional public relations tactics used, such as advertising? (Unless you are entering this program under “Integrated Communications,” advertising costs should not exceed one-third of the budget.)

Evaluation: Judges will consider to what degree a program met its objectives and what efforts were made to identify, analyze and quantify results. Documentation of how success was measured should be included. Questions to consider in preparing your entry:

  • What methods of evaluation were used?
  • What were your results?
  • How did the results compare to the specific, measurable objectives you identified in the planning section?
  • How well do the results reflect original strategy and planning?

Judging Criteria – Components Categories

Judges evaluate the tactic on four key areas — planning/content, creativity/quality, technical excellence and results. (Media relations categories are not judged on technical excellence.) Within these areas, the summary should include measurable objectives, target audiences, budget and any other specific information requested in the individual category. Results — qualitative, quantitative or both — should provide evidence of how the stated measurable objectives were met, and how the entry impacted the success of a broader or ongoing program.

Planning/Content: Judges will consider whether any research was done in developing the entry. They will examine whether objectives and strategies were thoughtfully considered and clearly stated and if the medium was a proper vehicle for attaining the stated objectives.

Creativity/Quality: Judges will consider whether the messages were directly tied to the objectives and if the content was substantive, understandable, consistent and appropriate for the target audience. Level of uniqueness and creativity also will be assessed.

Technical Excellence: Judges will examine graphic or communication elements that set the entry apart and the quality of production, with consideration for the scope of the project and its budget.

Results: Judges will consider whether efforts, quantitative or qualitative, were made to assess the degree to which the entry met its stated objectives.

Need help? We suggest you check out “Anvil Thinking: The Route to Award-Winning Work” on PRSA’s Silver Anvil page.

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