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.)