I have a confession to make. After more than a decade in booze PR, I have never attended a PRSA conference. I KNOW. It is so crazy, it’s Italian television crazy. But allow me to redeem myself.
I have helped to write, edit and submit more PR award entries than I care to remember. Ok, they were submitted at 11:59pm on the late entry date north of 99% of the time. But that’s not the point. The point is, I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the industry (I’m looking at you, Patrice Tanaka), and whipped, kicking and screaming, into PR award shape.
With the annual PRSA International Conference in DC only a few days away, I am working feverishly with the (ahem, no big deal) SILVER ANVIL award-winning Rioja team to prep our PRSA session, “Pairing Rioja Wine Producers with the U.S. Market.” Truly a team effort, this winning entry was led by the Rioja Trade Campaign Manager, Lauren Ray, assisted by Pablo Olay (Campaign Director), Rebekah Polster (Media Team Supervisor), Daniel Walsh (Trade Team Consultant) and the PR award ninja herself, Patrice Tanaka (Chief Counselor and Creative Strategist). And this isn’t our first rodeo, Friends. For the record, the Wines from Rioja team has won three Silver Anvils and one Award of Excellence over the past two years.
This session is going to be a blast to present, not only because it is based on a double Silver Anvil-winning campaign, but also because we’re bringing a little Rioja wine for attendees to sample. And tapas. At 8 am.
Now that I’ve made you sufficiently jealous, I will leave you with a glassful of rich and spicy tips on how to win a Silver Anvil, whether you’re writing about booze or something else almost as awesome.
1. Be Honest. Very.
This is probably the most important point, and it is two-fold. First, you have to be honest with yourself in whether your work and results will shine among top competition. Awards use a huge amount of company resources, both human and monetary, so take this part seriously. Secondly, be honest with the judges. Support your fabulous work with cold, hard facts, and try not to embellish more than necessary. In reading dozens of entries, the judges will read right through it anyway.
2. Stand Out from the Crowd
Speaking of judges’ blurry eyes, your best shot at winning a Silver Anvil is to distinguish yourself from your competition. Did you do some amazing research? Are your results over the top? Did you move the needle, or in the case of Rioja, actually move the cases? Start there and make sure it is crystal clear why you are the best entry of the bunch.
3. Overcoming Adversity
The best and worst thing about PR is that you can’t control everything. S#!&t happens and sometimes the cards dealt are particularly crappy. What sets your entry apart is how you overcame these challenges, and perhaps even turned them to your advantage. For example, when we first surveyed people about what Rioja was, the top answer was “a region in Mexico.” Sometimes you really have your work cut out for you!
4. Keep it Tight
We are all PR professionals here. This likely also means we’re pretty type A, and maybe even a little obsessive-compulsive (let’s call it perfectionism to make ourselves feel better). In finalizing your submission, put a little extra time in to make sure there are absolutely no mistakes: typos, inconsistent formatting, and especially objectives without measurable results.
5. Make it Measurable
Speaking of measurable results, and I can’t emphasize this enough, the proof is in the pudding. Distinguish your work and submission by directly connecting each section (objectives, research, strategy, tactics and results), and demonstrating hard results in the form of facts, figures and stats. Did you triple your impressions goals? Change consumer opinion and have a pre- and post-campaign survey to prove it? Help your client achieve their goals, and most importantly, affect the bottom line? Your entry should make these points clear, in black and white. And then bold them. Literally.
Hopefully, these tips will help your next entry move to the top of the heap. At the very least, winning the next Silver Anvil will give you a reason to celebrate with a tasty glass of vino. As if you needed a reason!