Awards Season

It’s that time of year again when our industry gets more competitive than usual (is it even possible?) as we pit ourselves and our projects against each other in a bid to be crowned “the best!”

It’s award season. Or rather short list season, with entry deadlines in early Summer and the actual black tie affairs usually taking place in the Autumn.

I’m not going to lie, I love it. Not for the glitz mind you (I hate wearing a dress) but for the competitiveness and the excitement. I also enjoy taking the time to really evaluate a piece of work, to pull it all together on paper and see how the story reads; to learn from every success and failure. I am, however, aware that awards season isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. This article on the RepMan Blog last year outlines just a few common concerns, namely transparency and agency-domination.

And it’s true that none of us outside the judging panel actually know if making the short list matters because there may well only have been a few entries in the category in the first place. It’s also true to say that for reasons from resources (both manly and monetary) to availability of suitable examples of work, agencies tend to dominate such short lists.

But the tide is changing. Increasingly, the voluntary sector in particular is investing in its communications departments, bringing strategic expertise to the sector and, therefore, sector-specific examples to the judging table. In-house professionals are seeing the benefits of award entry outside those obvious to agencies (such as competitive edge when tendering) and citing boosts in staff morale, Board level recognition and an enhanced pool of candidates when recruiting for new posts.

Often, when the small teams or the solitary in-house PROs do summon the courage (and sometimes, sizeable fee) to enter, they can actually win, as I did back in 2011. So there is no issue with the quality of the work produced outside the agency world. The problem lies in a lack of resources and confidence as well as a perception that some of the bodies tasked with judging such awards spend the rest of the year concentrating their networking and CPD elements on the “typical PRO setup” in the public and private sectors.

I think that could change, but not just by moaning about it from outside the playing field. In order to change you must get inside, take part, be seen and not just heard. Be proud of your good work and promote it, just as you would for your client/organisation.

I for one am proud to say that in my latest team, we have made the short list for this year’s CIPR PRide Awards in Northern Ireland. And we keep our fingers crossed for the DANI awards short list later in the Summer. It means I will have to wear a dress *groan* but the potential pleasure will be worth the pain.

As the saying goes - if you’re not in, you can’t win!