February President’s Message

pedrazaheadshots010-webNow’s the time to start thinking of your best work in 2013, gathering your supporting materials and entering your submissions for the 67th Virginia Public Relations Awards, to be held Wednesday, May 14 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The early deadline is Feb. 24, and the final deadline is March 3, with additional fees.

I’m proud to have won several awards for my work in the past, but probably the most beneficial insight into what makes a great entry is judging other people’s submissions. Each year, our chapter partners with another PRSA chapter, and we switch awards. Their members judge our awards, and we judge theirs.

Over the past several years, I’ve probably judged more than 100 award entries, and now I’m passing along what I think works and what doesn’t when it comes to bringing home a win.

DO link your evaluation to your objectives. Judges want to see you base the success of your campaign or tactic on whether you met or exceeded your stated objectives. If it wasn’t an objective, then don’t address it in your evaluation.

DO make your objectives measureable and timely. “To raise awareness” is not measureable. How would you know when awareness has been raised and to what extent? Try to tie your communications initiatives back to organizational or business goals that are measureable. “To increase attendance at the event by 20 percent over last year.” “To increase visitation to the website by 200 visitors a month.” “To raise individual donations by 10 percent over last quarter.”

DON’T include media relations as an objective – it’s a tactic. Media relations can be a great way to reach a target audience. Securing a placement, however, should help your organization achieve a stated goal. Goals that aim for X number of placements or advertising value say more about wanting to see your organization’s name in print than the strategy behind reaching and impacting a target market.

DO enter your BEST work. You know, the stuff that made you proud to work where you do, the projects that made you proud of yourself. Tactics that are fresh. Campaigns that had a huge impact. The videos that went viral. The publication that got rave reviews from your board. The postcard that helped boost attendance. You get the point. But…

DON’T just enter the pretty stuff. You win awards because you do a great job showcasing the strategy behind new, innovative and stellar work. Just because you got 500 people to like your Facebook post, doesn’t mean it actually meant anything for your organization. Why did you choose this campaign or tactic? Why was it the best way to reach or influence your target audience?

DON’T overload the judge with too much information. Keep your entry straightforward and to the point. Give the judge a good overview of your organization, issue and approach, but don’t get lost in the weeds. Provide a sample of supporting materials, not every single thing. Judges are reading through a lot of entries. Include headers for background/overview, research, objectives, strategies/tactics and evaluation. Make it easy for judges to find the essential elements of a winning entry.

You all have work that’s worthy of entry. It’s just a matter of knowing how to communicate why your work is award winning. Get started at https://prsarichmond.org/awards/.

Jenny Pedraza, APR
2014 PRSA Richmond President
Jenny Pedraza Communications, LLC