PR Week 2014 Shortlist – my experience as a judge

Proud of PR industry

This week PR Week announced their shortlist for the 2014 awards, which I am delighted to say Berkeley PR has been listed in the best technology category. The previous week I had been involved in judging the awards (not the one we were shortlisted in though!!).

What an experience. About a month ago I was presented with about 44 award entries to read and score across three categories.

At this first stage I was surprised by how many people had either not read the brief or sent an entry that wasn’t particularly inspiring. With so many entries to read I defined my own score system that was based around each of the elements mentioned. My biggest recommendation to anyone entering would be to review the criteria and break down each point highlighted. If your entry can’t be brilliant on every point – don’t bother entering.

How entries were laid out was also important to me. With so many to read through I wanted to get to the story quickly and to clearly see where the company had answered the brief. Having to refer to a variety of other documents became time consuming and with so much paperwork there was always the risk it could be over looked. Making it easy on the eye and easy to read meant I was also happier to read the document than if it looked like it was going to be a slog. Not too much graphic design but more than just a sheet of text was appealing.

My scores were then aggregated with those of my fellow judges and we then spent the day reviewing the shortlist to debate and score again. This again was an interesting process as each member of my panel came from a different section of the market and had different perspectives. In one case, I hadn’t scored a campaign particularly highly but upon debating with my fellow judges and discussing the merits of the campaign against the industry pressures for the entry I could review it with different eyes and scored it much higher because I could see that in its space it was braver and more innovative than I had first perceived.

On the judging day I was unsure of where the building was until I spotted a couple of beard and no sock brigade and followed them to a room signposted PR Week Judges! After a chat and a coffee I realised that I was going to be fortunate to have a category where we could meet the shortlisted parties and this was truly inspiration stuff. The PR industry gets a hard time in the press and from other outsiders but spending a day listening to the wonderful work and meeting some of the smartest brains in our industry was inspirational stuff and made me proud to work for a PR agency.

The awards are the showcase for our industry and as a judge we were all looking for evidence of outcome, creativity, relation to objective and cost effectiveness. In particular I was looking for ambassadors for our industry. I wanted people and agencies to win that would make others proud to say they worked in PR and I feel confident that we achieved this.

Roll on 14 October at Grosvenor House. It should be a superb night and fingers crossed the Berkeley PR team get to pick up their richly deserved gong.

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