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.

What do you think of the new @berkeleypr website?

Berkeley PR website

A fear most PR consultants have is that their client will utter the following words ‘we have a new website. Can you write a press release?’ I actually just shuddered as I wrote that..

So I’m not putting a press release out….. I’m shouting on my blog about Berkeley PR’s new website. To say I am proud of it would be an understatement.

Our design team have worked tirelessly and in my eyes have absolutely delivered on their brief to produce a website that isn’t as good as other PR consultancy websites, but better.

Why do I think this? I love the opening video. I think it effortlessly demonstrates the cities around the world we work in without telling people. (It actually reminds me of the opening credits for House of Cards – which I love).

Berkeley PR video

I think the homepage demonstrates we understand great design without telling people but most importantly I love the fact that it doesn’t drone on about us. Our research has shown that the content people are interested in, is what we have done for our clients (our stories) and who they will be working with (our storytellers). As a result we have worked hard to keep the site both simple and elegant.

Berkeley PR staff

We have changed our corporate colour to yellow to reinforce the fresh new approach and also updated our company logo. Our new logo has been stripped back to demonstrate our no fuss and sophisticated approach to PR while also giving a nod to the past. Berkeley PR was launched from an office in Berkeley Avenue so the logo has been designed to resemble the road sign.

Berkeley PR yellow

The blog has taken a bit more of a newspaper column feel with the latest blog being the lead story and older posts making up the columns underneath.

Berkeley PR blog

What do you think? Love it or hate I would welcome your feedback.

@PRCA_UK Awards 2014 – just call me the judge!

I am delighted to have been asked to become a judge for the forthcoming PRCA awards. Being passionate about our industry, it will be great to be part of the process that celebrates the brilliant work PR teams up and down the country have achieved over the past twelve months. I’m particularly keen to see how PR has added a real and tangible business benefit.

The closing date to enter is 27 June 2014 for both the consultancy and in-house categories. For a full list of the PRCA Award categories and advice on how to enter follow this link.

Good luck and I can’t wait to read about your campaign if I get your category.

The most important thing to remember when venue checking


A colleague of mine was checking a potential venue last week we might be using and I sat down and asked for a list of the things she was going to review. We went through the normal stuff such as equipment available, facilities, wifi and security but I told her to not forget a vital aspect that is often over looked.

When venue checking it is essential consider your guests. Sounds obvious but it is often over looked.

How easy is the venue to find?

What are nearest tubes, bus routes, taxi numbers?

Is there parking?

What nearby landmarks are there in case you need to direct someone to the venue.

What is the phone signal like should you they need to call you?

How many entrances are there? Sounds obvious but I held a wine tasting event at Harrods once – there are over 15 entrances. Which entrance do you meet someone at?

All sounds simple but these are the details that can make or break an event. If you lose just one guest because they give up trying to find you – you have failed!

Simple ideas have more impact


I was re-reading Jon Steel’s book Perfect Pitch (worth reading) the other day and wanted to share a quick passage that I particularly like.

Simple ideas have more impact than complicated ideas. They are more memorable in the short term, they are easier to pass on by word of mouth, and in the long term they endure.

‘I have a dream’

‘We shall fight them on the beaches’

Enough said. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. I couldn’t agree more with this.

Saturday 31 May is @TheBigMatchCo day in Reading


Berkeley PR
supports the Thames Valley and Bristol Byte Night events by sleeping out, sitting on the relevant boards and also providing free PR support. This year we have also branched out and have supported The Big Match in Reading.

The Big Match is a charity event featuring public, celebs and ex pros at the Madjeski Stadium on 31 May. The money raised goes to Action for Children and The Brain Tumour Trust.

Confirmed for the match are Suzanne Shaw, Razor Ruddock, Ossie Ardiles, David Seaman, Gareth Gates, Michelle Heaton and John Salako to name but a few. The Premiership trophy will be there on the day for photo opps and a kids session before the match will allow children the chance to have a kick about on the pitch.

Tickets are an unbelievably cheap £7.50 and children under four go free.

See you there…

Bill Bernbach’s secret to grabbing attention

The respected advertising man Bill Bernbach once said ‘you can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.’

This could be written about PR. I have seen great stories die because the press release used to communicate the announcement was factually right but deep down boring. You need to tell a story and grab people’s attention. If they don’t care, they won’t remember.