There’s a huge amount of very good PR and communications work being done in-house in Australia in both the corporate and Government sectors. Why then are PR Directors and PR Managers not more active in trying to submit their corporate internal and external work for critical acclaim?
That’s not to decry any of the latest winners. As usual there’s some great work that has – quite rightly – been acclaimed.
However, I can’t help but think that the PRIA awards are not really judging the best of all the PR and communications work done in Australia over the past twelve months.
Tim Burrowes’, editor of the media and marketing website MUmBRELLA, has done a bit of stirring by asking why none of the multinational PR agencies are among this years winners. The reactions to his blog are worth a read.
Burrowes’ does have a point. However I think he’s asking the wrong question.
To me the issue is not really whether it’s local or multinational PR agencies that are winning. I think the real question to be asked is why more in-house PR Departments for both corporates and Government are not submitting.
My perception (which I’ve held for a number of years – even when working on the agency side) is that the PRIA awards are mainly a showcase for PR agencies. It seems the majority of entries – even when campaigns by large organisations are entered – are being made by PR agencies on behalf of clients.
While I don’t have access to the numbers of entries being made, superficially it appears that because of the bias towards entries from PR agencies the PRIA is only evaluating or judging a proportion of the PR campaigns and programs being undertaken in Australia.
Are they evaluating only 40% or 60%? I have a sneaking suspicion they might be!
I’m not sure whether this situation is a result of the PRIA deliberately angling towards it’s predominately PR agency membership or whether there something restrictive about the structure of the awards and the classifications under which award entries can be made.
Or is it just apathy coming from the senior in-house corporate and Government PR and communications professionals?
Clearly PR agencies use the winning of awards as a way of showcasing their expertise and marketing themselves. And why not?
And the not-for-profits rightfully compete for their fair share of the spoils.
However, there are equal benefits to be gained from PR Directors and PR Managers also winning awards. The work involved in preparing a submission including all the necessary measurement benchmark can:
o Help to demonstrate to senior management the contribution PR makes to the business,
o Help to informally benchmark the PR effort compared to other like organisations,
o Recognise and reward internal PR department staff and assist in the recruitment of new staff,
o Help boost the credentials and standing of the PR Director or PR Manager – which can have immediate personal benefits for them within the organisation, and potentially longer term career benefits.
Dare I also say that organisations that deliberately seek to enter, and win, PR awards even have the potential to be recognised as premier clients for PR agencies to vie for!
Above all the standards of the whole PR industry would arguably be raised if more of the work being done in-house were to be showcased through participation in an award system.
It seems to me that in Australia there is a gap in our PR award system. The PRIA awards seem skewed towards PR agencies while the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) is skewed towards recognition of internal communication.
Does anyone out there who is closer to either PRINZ or IABC have any viewpoints or insights that might either support or challenge my premise?
Footnote: As an aside MUmBRELLA ran a story on the awards, and published the full list of winners, last Tuesday (October 26) after the announcement was made at the PRIA conference in Darwin the night before. Yet a week after the awards were made (Monday October 25) PRIA still has no list of the 2010 winners on its ‘new’ website – just the list of winners in previous years! PRIA has to be careful that it doesn’t get carried away with the look of its new website and forget about the content.