How to Write an Award-Winning PR Entry

If you’re reading this post and you work in the Richmond region, chances are you are highly familiar with the annual “PR Prom,” otherwise known as the Virginia PR Awards hosted by PRSA Richmond. This annual event has been around for decades, and it celebrates a wide swath of work – from independent practitioners to large agencies.

Hodges was honored to take away 10 awards this year across our account teams, but we were even more thrilled to be celebrating our friends and peers who were recognized and honored at the event. We’re looking at you Jason Lee, Taya Jarman and Jill Vaughan.

Our account team that came home with the most hardware from the evening was our Virginia Spirits Board Marketing Office team (VSBMO). In its inaugural year, the VSBMO was responsible for updating lots of existing channels and creating many new tactics and deliverables. Our team had an industrious first year, and we learned a lot along the way.

Here are four takeaways as we selected our top projects and drafted our winning entries:

  • Start with your SOW (or in our case, the RFP) – Whether it’s award season or not, regularly check in on your objectives and KPIs. As you look back, some should jump out as major milestones or successful campaigns.
  • Look for the data – To win an award, you have to prove success. For the most part, we chose success that included KPIs like email opens and click rate, website traffic increases and how our Virginia Spirits Month campaign lifted sales by 25%.
  • Think bigger picture – You might be doing a lot of great things, but what has or will move the needle for your overall organization? Finding a way to draw a line from something like an increase in social followers to more website visits to more purchases is an effective way to answer the question: “So, what?”
  • Assign a passion person – Our digital strategist wrote about website updates, our content strategist wrote about email performance, our director wrote about our team as a whole. When the writer is passionate and well-versed in the topic, the process is smoother and typically written with more conviction.

That’s our secret sauce. How we decide what projects get award submissions and how we go about writing them. Now is the time, if you had some projects on the cutting room floor this year, to ensure your objectives and KPIs are explicitly written and ready to go for next year. Your results are only as good as your planning and goal setting BEFORE a project. A good PR campaign (at least one that will win awards), follows a RACE, SMART, ROPE or similar model.

Amanda Christian

Amanda has always had a knack for project management, a sharp eye for details and an unwavering commitment to AP style. She brings content strategy, certifications in email marketing and media relations savvy to the table for a variety of clients like Hilldrup, UnitedHealthcare and the Virginia Spirits Board.

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