Finalist: Outstanding Young Communicator 2015

Today the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) released the finalists for this year’s PRide Awards.

My name appears under the “Outstanding Young Communicator” category for Northern Ireland.

Yes, thank you, I’m well-chuffed to make it this far.

Awards and the PR Industry

Given the recent discussions we’ve had about the industry and awards in general following June’s Cannes Lions, where the great and good from the creative marketing industries congregate for their annual pat-on-the-back, it’s become even more difficult to decide whether it’s a good or bad thing to enter awards at all.

There are issues with our industry and awards that are too numerous to mention, from questions over judging to the subjective nature of success and the fact that many members of the public will never have heard of the winners. This article sums the issues up best for me.

Those issues exists here, too.

But award success is still a vital tool as the UK & Irish PR Industries battle each other for contracts, raise their own profiles, and basically try to engender more integrity and understanding for the work we do.

Like it or loathe it, that’s the way it is, for now.

I’ve entered the CIPR PRide Awards before, I’ve been a finalist and I’ve been a GOLD Winner. It’s all rather lovely; it boosts your CV no end, it makes the slog seem worth it after a hard year and it is truly wonderful to be judged by your peers to have done a good job at something you love.

But entering this year was a difficult decision, not least because I had to fund the (substantial) cost myself.

And because this award in particular, is a skin-crawler:

Sitting in-front of your own industry colleagues and convincing them that you’re the best person in the country under the age of 31 is more excruciating than any job interview I’ve ever done, even the one with the surprise-PowerPoint presentation.

Even worse than the one where I had to sell the interview panel a highlighter.

And the one where I accidentally cursed in a mock telephone role-play.

Then again, if the award is for OUTSTANDING Young Communicator, then being good at the communicating part is pretty important. I appreciate that.

That’s why I turned up for the interview 40 minutes before my appointment at Belfast City Hall to exchange vows and get a Marriage Certificate with my husband…


So, the cost, the inconvenience, the sheer awkwardness. Why did I bother?

Because I feel like I’ve done a really good job.

There, I said it.

In the world of PR we can bring ourselves to do some gut-wrenchingly embarrassing things, including, but not limited to:

  • Contacting strangers and making outlandish requests - like can a group of people in costumes come play rugby in your National Stadium or can I push a giant blow-up thing down your main river?
  • Calling journalists who we know are too busy to listen to us, to ask what they think of the press release we sent that’s buried in their inbox
  • Pitching for business, essentially public speaking and a job interview rolled into one, on a regular basis
  • Asking clients to part with hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, for things they can’t see the tangible benefit in, like posting funny memes about the weather on their Facebook pages (it works, just trust me)…

However, as a general rule, we spend a lot more of our time bemoaning our industry’s reputation and our ethics codes and our professionalism and our gender issues, than we do actually talking about how good we are. I’m guilty of it myself.

Inadvertently, we’ve made it so it’s not cool to celebrate yourself.

Celebrating Your Own PR Success

Well I don’t care if it’s cool. I spent the last few years going above and beyond for my own professional development and the development of my local industry as a whole. From serving on the local CIPR Committee, becoming an Accredited Practitioner through CPD, to helping students by guest lecturing, taking part in their dissertation interviews and starting my Young Enterprise volunteering with younger children, running events and CIPR membership sessions for Charity/Public Sector communications teams, to writing my blog and managing the local CIPR member communications.

Outside my day job, my son, and my (now) husband. Outside the washing, the cooking, the homework. I don’t get paid for it and, for the most part, I don’t ask anything in return for it, not even praise.

But it’s pretty impressive, darnit!

So, with this my last year to have a crack at the whip, (I turn 31 next month, after which point I could still become Outstanding but I won’t be “young” *sniff) I decided to throw my hat in the ring, alongside a bunch of other people that I look up to and learn from as well.

I’m in esteemed company.

An all-female shortlist (yes!)

I feel worthy to be there.

And I think I do more for my profession and my peers by admitting that, than writing yet another blog post about why awards are bad or hiding my elation and pride at being named a finalist.

See you at the Awards in October folks!


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