Thou Shalt Not Waste Time with PR Award Competitions!
My colleagues in the industry will hate me for this, but it needs to be stated in without any degree of moderation: the PR industry awards are a waste of time and money and should be avoided.
Now, I am not stating this because my vines have cultivated a bumper crop of sour grapes. I’ve participated successfully in these competitions and my work snagged a few trophies. I’ve also had the responsibility (not privilege) of judging a few awards competitions. Having received PR awards and having determined which folks should receive them, I cannot help but feel they are of no value.
The reason for this negativity is twofold. First, there is an egregious glut of awards being handed out. The PR industry rivals the entertainment world for the mass quantity of honors it bestows on itself. Many of the national trade groups have annual awards, and the regional chapters of these groups have their own local awards. Likewise, many of the trade media have their own award competitions (though truth be told, those awards exist primarily as a major revenue enhancement scheme for the publishers – they can make some fast bucks on the entry fees – rather than as a genuinely sincere celebration of PR excellence).
Even within the individual award competitions, there are an absurdly high number of categories for the trophy chase. The PRSA’s Silver Anvils, arguably the most respected of the industry’s honors, has 16 different categories. But within each category are anywhere from two-to-six subcategories. For example, the Marketing Consumer Products Award has individual prizes going for best achievement in the Healthcare, Technology, Food & Beverage, Packaged Goods, Non-Packaged Goods and “Other” industries (the latter is a lump-‘em-together of “categories not elsewhere defined,” according to the PRSA).
But that’s just the Silver Anvils – the Bronze Anvils have 50 different categories and subcategories. What’s the difference in the awards? Well, according to the PRSA’s web site, the “Silver Anvil Awards recognize complete programs incorporating sound research, planning, execution and evaluation” while the Bronze Anvil Awards “recognize outstanding public relations tactics, the individual items or components of programs or campaigns.” And anyone who thinks that’s logical obviously had an anvil (silver, bronze or whatever metallic nature) dropped on their head.
The second problem is something that few award givers in the PR universe are willing to acknowledge: none of these awards competition carry any clout beyond their respective organizing committees. Outside of the industry, PR awards are meaningless to the point of being thoroughly ignored. One individual responsible for an annual PR award presentation (who will not be identified here) used to boast fantastically that judging that particular award competition was “an honor.” Strangely, that person had a bitch of a time trying to get anyone from the industry to embrace that “honor” and the judging was mostly done in-house.
I’ve done a search of national media and I have yet to locate a single news story about the results of a PR industry award. The only genuine mainstream media coverage I could locate on a PR industry award presentation came from the weekly (and relatively unimportant) New York Observer on March 13, 2006, when it covered the PR Week Awards with the decidedly unflattering headline “Publicists Lauded for Flackery; PR Gods Get Freedom From Press” (the rest of the article was equally snarky).
Even if you bring the awards directly to the gathering point of the major national media, they won’t pay attention. PR News, for example, hosts several of its awards (it has five different award competitions) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. – yet, to date, none of their awards ever received any national press coverage.
And that’s just for the awards. There are also at least four different groups in the industry offering their own PR Hall of Fame. No further comment required on that!
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book “The New PR” will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
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"The expo we just started is on games that were created in SL for SL residents. While SL is not a game in itself, we still know that the residents spend a large amount of time playing games, and – some of them – creating games."
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"Based on these experiences, we worked with some clients in introducing them to this new platform."
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