Excellence Beyond Execution: Entering the UK Digital PR Awards

By Neville Hobson, a UK Digital PR Awards judge

Drawing upon my extensive experience as an awards judge over the past dozen years or so, I’ve gained unique insights into what distinguishes a winning entry from the rest. Having scrutinized numerous entries, I’ve observed first-hand the pivotal role that strategic thinking plays in crafting impactful, award-worthy initiatives.

This experience has not only deepened my appreciation for the nuanced art of public relations but has also highlighted the immense value that participating in PR awards can bring to professionals and organizations alike.

Inspired by my reflections shared in a post I published after judging entries to last year’s UK Digital PR Awards on recognizing excellence in digital PR, I’ve compiled a list of the key benefits I see plus top tips for entering a PR awards contest.

This guide is rooted in my firsthand observations and is designed to illuminate the path to excellence, offering both a celebration of strategic ingenuity and a pragmatic blueprint for those aspiring to achieve recognition in the PR field.

The Strategic Advantage of Entering PR Awards

In the dynamic landscape of public relations, recognition through awards not only celebrates the culmination of creative efforts and outcomes but also highlights the strategic acumen behind successful campaigns.

Entering the UK Digital PR Awards 2024 contest that recognizes excellence not only in the work submitted but also in the strategic thinking behind a campaign or other activity offers a multifaceted array of benefits. This contest provides a unique platform for professionals and organizations to showcase their ability to marry creativity with strategic insight, underpinning the essence of effective PR.

The Benefits of Participation

  1. Enhanced Credibility: Winning or even being shortlisted for a PR award lends significant credibility to your organization or personal brand. It serves as a testament to the quality and effectiveness of your work, both in execution and strategy.
  2. Increased Visibility: Awards bring visibility not only to the winning campaigns but also to the teams and individuals behind them. This heightened exposure can attract new clients, talent, and opportunities for collaboration.
  3. Benchmarking Excellence: Participating in awards allows you to benchmark your work against the best in the industry. It provides valuable insights into industry standards, emerging trends, and what it takes to lead in the PR domain.
  4. Networking Opportunities: Awards ceremonies and associated events offer unparalleled networking opportunities with industry peers, thought leaders, and potential clients. These interactions can foster partnerships and open doors to new ventures.
  5. Team Motivation and Morale: Being recognized for hard work and strategic ingenuity boosts team morale and motivation. It reaffirms the value of their contributions and encourages continued excellence.
  6. Strategic Validation: Winning an award for strategic thinking validates your approach and methodology, offering a competitive edge. It underscores the importance of not just what you do but how you think and plan.
  7. Attracting Talent: Recognition through awards can make your organization a magnet for top talent. Ambitious professionals are drawn to teams that are celebrated for their strategic and creative prowess.
  8. Market Differentiation: Awards distinguish your brand in a crowded marketplace. They highlight your commitment to excellence and innovation, setting you apart from competitors.
  9. Learning and Development: The process of entering an award itself is a learning experience. It requires a deep dive into your strategies, outcomes, and the impact of your work, offering insights that can shape future campaigns.
  10. Client Trust and Loyalty: Awards can enhance trust and loyalty among your existing client base. They offer reassurance that they are partnering with industry leaders recognized for their strategic and operational excellence.

How to Maximize Your Chances of Winning: Top 10 Tips

As someone who has had the privilege of judging numerous PR awards, I’ve gained valuable insights into what makes an entry stand out from the rest. It’s not just about the results achieved but the strategic journey that led there. With this in mind, I’ve curated a list of top ten tips designed to maximize your chances of winning. These recommendations are distilled from observing winning patterns and understanding the nuances that captivate judges’ attention.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the PR awards scene, these tips will guide you in preparing an entry that not only showcases your achievements but also highlights the strategic brilliance behind your work. Let’s dive into these actionable tips to elevate your submission and potentially secure your spot as an award-winner in the PR industry.

  1. Understand the Rules: Thoroughly review the awards criteria for entry, and prepare and submit your entry to meet these requirements explicitly. This is a hurdle I frequently see entrants falling at.
  2. Focus on Objectives: Clearly articulate the objectives of your campaign and how they align with the award’s focus on strategic excellence. Ensure your objectives are measurable – for example, if you say a prime goal is to increase engagements on social media, you need to say by what measure. Put your money where your mouth is.
  3. Highlight Results: Demonstrate the effectiveness of the campaign or activity you’re entering with quantifiable results and how strategic thinking contributed to these outcomes.
  4. Tell a Compelling Story: Present your entry as an authentic narrative that captures the judges’ interest, showcasing the strategic journey from concept to execution.
  5. Provide Supporting Evidence: Include tangible evidence to support your claims, such as metrics, testimonials, and media coverage. Bonus tip: whatever you do, don’t just offer up an Excel with 100 rows of text and links. That just makes the judge’s job harder: you need to be making it as easy as possible.
  6. Be Concise and Clear: Ensure your submission is straightforward, avoiding jargon and focusing on the essence of your strategic approach.
  7. Show Innovation: Highlight any innovative strategies or tactics that set your campaign apart and demonstrate creative problem-solving.
  8. Detail the Challenges: Explain the challenges faced and how strategic thinking was applied to overcome them.
  9. Engage Visually: Use visuals to enhance your submission, making it more engaging and easier to understand at a glance.
  10. Proofread and Review: Before submission, ensure your entry is meticulously proofread and consider getting feedback from peers for a fresh perspective.

Entering PR awards that recognize both the quality of work and the strategic thinking behind campaigns offers unparalleled benefits, from enhancing credibility and visibility to fostering team morale and attracting talent.

Preparing your entry with a focus on strategic excellence and adhering to the top ten tips outlined can maximise your chances of winning, setting a benchmark for success in the competitive PR landscape.