I spent a full day in New York Friday as senior judge for the PRSA Silver Awards – probably for the 10th time – and continue to believe it’s the best way to view first-hand some of the strongest PR programs from talented companies, agencies and public relations practitioners from across the U.S. No seminar or workshop can equal the insights gained from hours of reviewing jam-packed binders detailing the inner-workings of top PR programs, not to mention the networking with fellow judges who are among the leaders in the PR profession.
The competition is intense, and at least in the category I judged this year – Integrated Communications for Consumer Products – many of the 33 entries had a chance to win. Following a full day of review and discussion, our team agreed on one winner and two runners up, all close and just edging out a number of excellent entries. The finalists will be contacted in the coming weeks and winners announced at a gala event in June.
Not all PR programs are appropriate for a Silver Anvil, as there is a heavy emphasis on a solid research component, which weeds out many entries. In addition to a creative and strategic execution, winners always have a thorough mix of primary and secondary research, which I believe is what separates the Silver Anvil competition from other industry awards programs. If all an entrant did was scan the Web and throw in a few pages of printouts for their research section, they won’t stand a chance. This year a member of my judging team, David B. Rockland, Ph. D., partner and managing director of Ketchum’s Global Research team, offered insights that were especially helpful on the research front.
Another element found in the best entries is a planning component that clearly states measurable objectives, followed by an evaluation that demonstrates how closely those objectives were met. Page after page of news clippings or an email stating “the client was extremely pleased” won’t cut it in this competition.
Also on my team were two professionals with excellent credentials, Alissa Pinck, GM/vice president with the New York office of JS2 Communications, and Patrice Tanaka, co-chairperson, chief creative officer and “whatcanbe ambassador” with CRT/tanaka, with offices in Richmond, New York, L.A. and Norfolk, Va.
If you ever get the chance to serve as a judge, by all means do so. It’s not an easy day, but well worth it. And if you’ve ever won a Silver Anvil, or know someone who has, congratulate them for their hard work and realize it was no easy feat.