The Power of a Judge

    By Ali Munk, PRSA Colorado Communications Committee, Infinite CBD Director of PR 

    Each PRSA Chapter honors hardworking PR professionals for their outstanding work throughout the year. Without the help of judges from other Chapters, Gold Picks and other award ceremonies would not function as they do today.

    Being a judge is much more than evaluating another campaign. Being a judge offers you insight to learn strategies and tactics to use on your own campaigns, critical thinking and insights on how to push the envelope for your clients or business. This year, the Ohio Chapter judged our Gold Pick awards. We interviewed Ohio chapter member Lauren Doyle, with Wordsworth Communications, to understand what it takes to be a judge and the benefits it offers.

    AM: What do you look for in a winning campaign?

    LD: I look for campaigns that demonstrate a strong, strategic foundation and flawless, creative execution. To me, those are the two hallmarks of an award-winning effort. The best entries are concise enough to fit within the judging parameters, yet descriptive enough to provide important context and nuance that I don’t have, living halfway across the country.

    AM: Is one aspect more important than another?

    LD: Tying back to the overarching strategy is the key. When the entrant takes the time to outline the why behind a campaign or tactical effort, their choices become much clearer. What is the business goal? What are the communication objectives? How did audience demographics or industry trend research impact tactical decisions? It’s important to proactively answer these questions for the judges because we’re so unfamiliar with the work. 

    AM: If you could give one tip of advice to a judge, what would it be?

    LD: Please offer constructive feedback! The entrants have put an immense amount of time and effort into putting their best work forward; reward that effort with a couple of sentences about why an entry rose to an award-winning level… or didn’t. It helps the entrants improve both their work product and the entries they submit the next year.

    AM: What was the most impactful campaign you judged?

    LD: I judged in the media relations campaign category, which is notoriously difficult to judge in my opinion. The work Webb Communications did on behalf of the Colorado Department of Transportation really stood out because there was a measurable impact on behavior. Changing hearts and minds, that’s the gold standard for any PR campaign.

    AM: How has judging improved your quality of work in the office?

    LD: It certainly makes me think critically about the choices we make, daily, on behalf of our clients. Are we pushing the envelope? Did we track specific objectives when we started a campaign? How are we proving not only a return on the client’s investment but also the impact of our work? Judging another chapter’s award-worthy work is a good reminder to make sure I’m delivering my own best work.

    AM: What is the biggest benefit of being a judge?

    LD: It’s just really interesting to see what my peers and colleagues around the country are up to. Creative inspiration never fails to strike when I’m reading about all the ways PR pros are solving organizational and communications problems. And can I say professional envy? Because there were definitely a few entries that had me like, “Daaaaang, I wish I’d thought of that!”

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