From the pride it brings to your team/agency, third-party credibility and validity it gives to your work and services, and recruitment opportunities it provides for both new business and star employees, it’s difficult to overstate the value of winning a Worthy Award.
Be sure to take some time before you start the entry process to maximize the quality of your submissions and ensure your entry stands out. Here are 8 tips to help you do this:
- Plan Ahead.
Draft an outline of what you want to get across before you start writing. The entry system now takes place entirely online, and the allowed copy length for both Programs and Tactics is 1,500 words (1,600 if you include the optional 100-word synopsis).
- Tell A Story.
Judges like a clear narrative, so borrow some techniques from PR Writing 101 and emphasize the 5 Ws: Who, What, Why, Where, and When – and throw in a little “How” if you have time and space.
- No Jargon!
Did you “utilize and leverage existing resources to achieve your goals and exceed KPIs?” Well, cut it out. Jargon like that takes up precious space and words, and conveys nothing about what you actually did. How about this instead: “We transformed the streets of downtown Fort Worth into an outdoor art gallery and performing arts venue.” Much better! Skip the big, flowery words, and cut to the chase.
- Don’t Ignore The Fine Print.
Check the category descriptions and entry guidelines to ensure you are covering all of the criteria for the categories you are entering. Keep to the maximum word count (300 per section) and upload only the maximum number of supporting materials (5 per section). Otherwise, you risk annoying the judges at best; at worst — being excluded from the category.
- Choose Supporting Materials Carefully.
There is so much temptation to upload everything, but don’t do it. Choose the best and most impressionable media clips, videos, images, and testimonials to support your case.
- Explain Your Results.
When you reach the last section of your entry, it’s tempting to make a series of bullets — ad equivalency values, impressions, followers, engagement rates, etc. But the storytelling shouldn’t stop here. Put those numbers in context. What do they mean for your client? How do they contribute to overall business goals? How did the organization and target audiences benefit? Share results beyond numbers — comments, stories, or changes in business practices, for example.
- Think Like A Judge.
The judges might be reading/judging 10-20 submissions. Think about that and put yourself in their shoes before submitting a final draft and make it as easy as possible for them – they will appreciate it and look at your entry in a more favorable light. Make it an easy read with clear objectives. Consider having an internal judging panel assess the entries before they are submitted – if you can’t convince your own colleagues, you won’t convince the judges.
- Connect All The Dots.
Most importantly, don’t expect the judges to draw conclusions for themselves. What seems obvious to you as an expert in your category and someone immersed in your client’s world for a year or more will not be obvious to the judges. Educate them about the challenges you faced, the uniqueness of your strategy, and the significance of your results. Because the truth is, great work and great results are just the first step. Great entries win Worthy Awards! 🙂
By Carolyn Bobo, APR, Fellow PRSA
The Worthy Awards are back! The annual contest, like those held by other chapters, gives area communications, marketing and public relations professionals an opportunity to honor and celebrate creativity, strategic thinking and professional ability.
Worthy entries will be judged by professionals like you who understand the challenges of time, budget, staff and other factors that go into efforts to support our organizations or clients. Don’t be shy; identify your best efforts and enter them. But be sure to allow plenty of time to think about your work from beginning to end and prepare a strong narrative to showcase your project.
Terminology and tactics have changed over the years, but the fundamentals of our profession remain the foundation for contests: research, planning, execution and measurement. Read the entry form closely and be sure to explain:
- What was done?
- Why did it matter?
- How was it measured?
Some tips for entrants:
Explain any type of research. A textbook campaign includes qualitative and/or quantitative research, but that isn’t always feasible or necessary. Judges know this, but they expect your entry narrative to show your knowledge of options and professional literacy. The judges want to know that you observed the public or market, and then thought about how to reach it. Use textbook terminology. For example, best practices review, media audit, literature search, anecdotal reports or even a brainstorming session may be described as secondary, informal research.
Explain the strategic purpose of your entry. Was your intent to create name recognition, influence behavior, increase sales, raise funds? Describe any factors about the program or tactic that will help judges understand your decisions. Judges are not likely to be familiar with our market and geographic area, so be sure to include details about population, annual sales, number of employees, consumers, etc., that help them understand the scope of your efforts.
Explain which tactics were chosen and why.
Remember that the judges won’t know that your tactic was spot-on unless you tell them. If your work required extraordinary skills or a budget challenge, be sure to say so. If media relations are part of your entry, be sure to note that we work in the fifth largest media market in the country (Nielsen) and that there is fierce competition for mass media attention.
Describe how the target responded and how you learned about its response. Program evaluation and measurement may be a replication of preliminary research or of other activities. For example, measures can be election results, a sales increase, ROI, donor or donation increase, or the number of participants/responses that exceeded expectations. Include as much measurable and anecdotal response as possible; describe future plans.
If comprehensive research was not needed, say so. For example, “More than 5,000 people in our target public responded to the activity. We expected only 3,000, so we did not repeat our preliminary research to measure interest.”
Or, if the goal was “to generate five media stories,” the result must show five (or more) media reports. If the purpose is “to raise awareness,” the results must show a measurable increase in awareness.
Remember that evaluation results must must must match your stated goal or purpose, i.e., “Why our work mattered.”
(Carolyn has been a member of Fort Worth PRSA since 1999 and was previously a member of contest-hosting chapters in New Mexico and South Carolina.)
May 2016 Member Spotlight: Tracy Greene
Job Title/Company: Public Information Officer, Amon Carter Museum of American Art
College/Degree/Graduation Date: TCU, Bachelor of Science in Advertising/Public Relations, 1999
Hometown: Dayton, Texas
Position within GFW PRSA (i/a): Hospitality Chair
Childhood ambition (what did you want to be when you grew up?): Broadcast journalist
Current livelihood (what you’re actually doing as a grown-up): Nonprofit public relations
First PR job: Communications coordinator at the Fort Worth Zoo
What you know now that you wish you’d known then: So many things!
- The traditional media landscape will dramatically evolve in your career, so it’s best to get on board sooner rather than later. (When I started in PR, most people still read the newspaper, and a tweet was a bird call!)
- It’s called media relations for a reason–the relationship is critical, even more so than a perfectly written news release.
- You’ll do your best work on a small budget! Creativity goes a long way.
Greatest professional or personal accomplishment:
- Planning and promoting a baby shower for an elephant, which generated international awareness for the Fort Worth Zoo’s elephant conservation program (professional)
- Running a half-marathon after a leg injury delayed my first attempt (personal)
- Raising kind and compassionate children (personal–and a work in progress)
If you weren’t in PR, you would be a: professional resume writer.
Desired legacy: I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference to my family, friends, coworkers and community.
Why did you originally join PRSA: To learn more about the profession and meet novice and seasoned colleagues
Finally, tell us about your hometown and what makes it cool: My hometown is very small–only about 7,000. There were more people at TCU (even in the mid-90s) than in my hometown!
March 2016 Member Spotlight: Laken Rapier
Name: Laken Avonne Rapier
Job Title/Company: Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, Justin Brands, Inc.
College/Degree/Graduation Date: University of Kansas / Bachelor of Science in Journalism / May 2013
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas
Position within GFW PRSA (i/a): I help tweet during luncheons and events on occasion 🙂
Childhood ambition (what did you want to be when you grew up?): Growing up, I wanted to be a chef. I loved watching Food Network and insisted on visiting Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant in Orlando during a family vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios at age 8.
Current livelihood (what you’re actually doing as a grown-up: Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
First PR job: I handled press and communications for a Member of Congress on Capitol Hill.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then: Identify what works for you, in order to be and give the best that you can. Recognize that sometimes you need a break or change of pace to make sure you’re always coming at your work in the most creative and energetic way you can, while giving not just 100%, but the best 100% you can give.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received: I’ve received a lot of good advice. Here are some of my favorites that I remind myself of often: Actions create opportunities. Listening is very different from hearing. Use all your vacation days, because everyone needs time to recharge.
Greatest professional or personal accomplishment: One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is having an article I wrote nominated for a Hearst Award.
If you weren’t in PR, you would be: An attorney
Desired Legacy: My desired legacy is to be bigger than myself. I hope when I’m not present people still know what’s in my heart.
Why did you originally join PRSA? I joined PRSA after attending a few events with some coworkers. I found it was a great way to meet other PR professionals in the community, while continuing to learn and keep up with industry trends.
Finally, tell us about your hometown and what makes it cool.Flower Mound is a sleepy town, so much in fact that people I went to high school with made a music video about it lacking excitement. Is that cool?
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
- Join us for our next GFW PRSA luncheon on Wednesday, November 14, at Colonial Country Club!
- Wanna Get Away? October PR History
- Join us for our GFW PRSA half-day workshop on Wednesday, October 10, at Colonial Country Club!
- How a Photo-Op Tanked a Campaign: September PR History
- Join us for our next GFW PRSA luncheon on Wednesday, September 12, at Colonial Country Club!
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