I walked into a client office last Thursday to see a dry-cleaners garment bag hanging up at the end of one desk and a tux positioned neatly at another. A tell-tale sign that the next round of awards season is well and truly upon us. We have two awards dos this week with the Northern Marketing Awards and CIPR NW Pride, quickly followed by the national PRCA Awards in London next week. We’re particularly proud of this last one as we’re up for new agency and representing the region alongside the Coop and Citypress.
One part of what we do for our clients is set and advise on strategies for entering awards and bagging accreditations. A conversation we regularly have is, that not all awards were made equal and as part of a b2b or corporate PR approach, entries should be done ‘sparingly’ and only when rooted in a commercial objective. This could be as part of an ambition to retain and grow a happy team, attract investment or as a kitemark of quality or innovation.
Sparingly, now there’s a word you probably wouldn’t expect in the same sentence as a PR agency and awards. We’ve entered a good handful of awards and won 16 in 18 months at the last count. PR Moment ranked us as the eighth most awarded agency in the UK in its PR Agency League – the highest outside of London and the highest independent agency. All sounds pretty good and a mile away from modest but back to the why. Apart from making Granny proud, here’s an insight into why we felt awards were an important part of building a brilliant agency.
- Before Petal & Co, we worked in big agencies with high headcounts and access to many a creative resource. One concern when starting a small consultancy is whether the team will have the creative firepower and hands on deck to deliver. A year into business was the first chance we got to enter our campaigns into awards – so we entered them all. We entered every campaign we had worked on into the PR Moment Awards and all of our work was shortlisted. We won half of them making us the most awarded team on the night – and in the UK – and then found another ten shortlist places at the PRCA DARE Awards. This was proof in the proverbial pudding that what we were doing stacked up.
- Improving standards. Award entries by their very nature force you to interrogate everything against the commercial objectives set: the metrics, evaluation and increasingly, the extent to which you’ve achieved the above through creativity. Our clients wouldn’t mind us saying that we’re not usually working in sectors which readily set the creative juices following. But that doesn’t stop us. We pride ourselves on delivering commercially clever communications and we’ve conjured up ideas and campaigns which have sold businesses; launched companies into new sectors and attracted clients and customers to choose our clients because they’ve stood out from the crowd. If you think like an award entry when at the planning stage of a campaign, it tightens up the approach and encourages a sprinkle of fairy dust.
- Highlighting a strength (or depth). This may be entering awards in your client sectors or a particular technique or method. We picked up new business leads following our success at Investment Week’s marketing, and Citywire’s brand awards and our B2B agency win has stood us in good stead with clients in a pitch environment.
And finally…it’s a real boost for the whole team and the clients who we’ve worked on the campaigns with. The impact of this cannot be understated so here’s hoping for another piece of silverware (actually more usually glass or plasticware) in the next two weeks.