Monday, July 06, 2009

Bringing in the Gold: How to Build an Award-Winning Entry

By Paige Ramsey-Palmer, APR

In the PR profession, our results often are measured by the number of reporters we attract to our event or program. Yep, that’s how we let the public know that we’re doing good stuff for our organization/community. But that shouldn’t be the end of our work. Entering that project in an award program provides a “next step” in promoting what we do. Winning award recognition shows your organization that you’re doing a great job when your work is compared with a standard of professional excellence. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get this professional recognition for yourself and your team.

I entered our 6th Annual Shred Day in the Del Oro La Plata Award category, which recognizes outstanding campaigns, and I was thrilled to receive a beautiful trophy! As a tip, I consciously pre-thought the project as a future entry, keeping the La Plata guidelines in mind. These comments are based on the La Plata guidelines; the process may differ slightly for El Bronce entries or for other programs. Here are a few things you might consider for a La Plata entry next year:

• PLAN the entry BEFORE you start the project. Remember to collect your notes, communication and promotional pieces, media clips, etc. to make the entry easy to assemble. You have two pages to showcase your entry - make the words count.
• Use the Del Oro guidelines to be sure you have completely thought the project through. For example, every campaign must have research that justifies the project’s existence. Don’t forget to state your budget. This pre-thinking will help you define the range of tactics that you will eventually use.
• Goals and objectives must be itemized. For example, be sure each objective is clearly stated, measurable and time bound.
• Strategies and tactics used in implementation must be appropriate to the objectives. For example, the tactics need to directly support the objectives. All the parts need to interweave, supporting each other.
• Make sure your evaluation reflects the results of your research and planning. For example, how successfully did you stick to a budget, reach or exceed your objectives, and use creativity/strategy to get your results? Then, what went well and what could be refined for a project in the future, i.e. what were the lessons learned?

Finally, creating a successful award entry is much easier if you’ve been a judge for other award programs. Each year our chapter reciprocates in judging another chapter’s award entries. Set aside time in the spring to partner with a seasoned PRSA member and volunteer to judge a set of the entries. You’ll build confidence when you’re ready to develop an award-winning entry. Remember, if you don’t enter, you can’t win!