2017 Spotlight Awards Is Open For Submission!
There are dozens of awards programs for public relations and integrated communications, both locally and internationally. We all know the ones that are for show. The Spotlight Awards, along with our cousins, PRSA’s Silver and Bronze Anvils, are focused on the same criteria used to determine a candidate’s readiness to go through the Accreditation program: research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Entering in our awards program is a great way to benchmark your organization’s communications programs against best practice methodologies around the country. Our judges provide written feedback, in addition to scores, and you can use this insight to enhance your strengths and address your opportunities for improvement.
Ethics at work: how entries are judged
Entries will be judged by our PRSA colleagues in Maryland. Two or more judges will review each entry, at least one of whom is a nationally APR accredited professional. If there is a large discrepancy in the number of points awarded, an additional judge is brought in to render the final decision. Entries are also reviewed by a local audit committee for accuracy and completeness of results.
Nominees compete against themselves, not other entrants. If you did good work, and the judges agree, you’ll receive our state’s highest honor for public relations professionals, a Spotlight Award.
The awards will be handed out on October 20 at the Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby
What do winning Spotlight Award entries have in common? They have succinct summaries that clearly show the situational analysis, research, planning (including budget), execution and evaluation of a PR campaign or tactic. They include materials that document all of those elements. They are organized in a way that’s thoughtful and makes it easy for judges to review them. They describe how goals and objectives were developed, and why the program or tactic matters.
Programs and Campaigns
C-1. COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Includes programs that seek to win the support or cooperation of — or that aimed to improve relations with — people or organizations in communities in which the sponsoring organization has an interest, need or opportunity. “Community” in this category refers to a specific geographic location or locations.
C-2. REPUTATION/BRAND MANAGEMENT
Programs designed to enhance, promote or improve the reputation of an organization with its publics or key elements of its publics, either proactively or in response to an issue, event or market occurrence. Campaigns designed to launch or promote a specific product or service launch or sales/marketing effort should be entered in Marketing Consumer Products or Services or Marketing Business to Business.
C-3. EVENT OR OBSERVANCE
Events may be commemorations, observances, openings, celebrations or other special activities. You must have played a major role in organizing or publicizing the event or observance you’re entering in the awards. For instance, creating or publicizing a booth at a trade show held by another organization would not qualify you for an award.
C-4. PUBLIC SERVICE
Includes programs that advance public understanding of societal issues, problems or concerns.
(Similar programs conducted principally to enhance an organization’s standing, or to otherwise serve its interests directly, will fall in Reputation/Brand Management.)
C-5. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Includes programs specifically designed to influence public policy and/or affect legislation, regulations, political activities or candidacies — at the local, state or federal government levels — so that the entity funding the program benefits.
C-6. MARKETING CONSUMER PRODUCT OR SERVICE
Includes programs designed to introduce new products or services, or promote existing products or services to a consumer audience (product launches).
C-7. MARKETING BUSINESS TO BUSINESS
Includes programs designed to introduce new products, or promote existing products or services to a business audience (product launches).
C-8. GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS
Includes any type of program (e.g., institutional, marketing, events) sponsored by a U.S. company or a company with a U.S. presence. The program must demonstrate effective global communications implemented in at least two countries, one of which may be the U.S. itself.
C-9. CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS
Includes programs undertaken to deal with an unplanned event, requiring immediate response.
C-10. ISSUE MANAGEMENT
For programs undertaken to deal with issues that could extraordinarily affect ongoing business strategy.
C-11. INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS
Includes programs targeted specifically to special publics directly allied with an organization (e.g., employees, members, affiliated dealers or franchisees).
C-12. INVESTOR RELATIONS
Includes programs directed toward shareowners, other investors and the investment community.
C-13. MULTICULTURAL PUBLIC RELATIONS
Includes any type of program (e.g., institutional, marketing, community relations) specifically targeted to a cultural group.
C-14. INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS
Includes any program that demonstrates leadership of public relations strategies and tactics in a creative and effective integrated campaign along with other marketing or communications. The program must demonstrate the clear leadership of public relations, along with its integration with other disciplines.
C-15. SOCIAL MEDIA/DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS
Campaigns that demonstrate leadership of public relations strategies and tactics executed in an online or digital format. Campaigns that incorporate social media or digital elements but also include traditional or print components should be entered in Integrated Communications.
T-1. MEDIA/BLOGGER RELATIONS
Tactics, programs and events driven entirely by media/blogger relations for a product, service, organization or government agency. Submit press releases, media advisories, pitch letters, requests for coverage, etc., along with the two-page summary that includes measurable objectives and results, such as evidence of the resulting media coverage. Television coverage can be submitted on a DVD. Radio coverage can be submitted on a CD.
T-2. FEATURE STORY*
Feature articles that have been written by a practitioner, and submitted and published through his or her efforts. Submit text of feature article as well as documentation of publication and placement. The two-page summary should include target audience, measurable objectives and any documented results.
T-3. EDITORIAL/OP-ED COLUMN*
Opinion articles written as an editorial, guest column or letter-to-the-editor. Submit text of article and documentation of publication. The two-page summary should outline measurable objectives, audience, results and budget.
T-4. WEBCASTS (New)
Media files distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology. May be live or recorded. Submit the two-page summary and a DVD of the webcast, as well as the actual site URL.
Web-based journal, or blog, that communicated either a corporate, public service or industry position. The two-page summary should include rationale for blogging strategy, target audiences and statistics or other means of quantifiable measurement to support stated objectives. Screen downloads of the blog being entered and the actual site URL must be submitted as part of the entry.
Use of a website as part of a public relations program. Include screen grabs or copies of key pages to support your two-page summary. In addition, include the website URL for external sites. Online media rooms should be for media only.
T-7. CREATIVE TACTIC
Unconventional, creative tactic or approach used as part of a public relations program. Documentation of how the tactic specifically contributed to the measurable results of the campaign should be included in the two-page summary. (If objects are large or bulky, a photograph or video representation should be sent.)
T-8. NEWS CONFERENCE
One-time event held specifically to announce news to target media about a product, service, issue or organization. A series of events or multi-day effort does not belong in this category. The two-page summary should address logistics, execution and quantifiable measures that demonstrate how the news conference achieved its stated objectives.
T-9. NEWS RELEASE/SOCIAL MEDIA RELEASE
Press releases or social media releases to announce news to target traditional or new media about a product, service, issue, event or organization.
T-10. MEDIA KIT**
News releases, photographs and other background information compiled for an organization, product or issue. Submit one copy of the press kit or media kit along with the two-page summary. (For online or electronic versions, include the URL or digital version of the press kit on a CD or DVD.)
T-11. VIDEO NEWS RELEASE/ONLINE VIDEOS
Pre-produced videos distributed to television stations to inform target audiences about an event, product, service or organization. Entries may consist of edited DVD and sound bites on a single DVD or a URL to the video. The two-page summary should include usage statistics or other means of quantified measurement to support stated objectives.
T-12. SATELLITE MEDIA TOUR
Live broadcasts offered to and aired by television stations to inform target audiences about an event, product, service or organization. Entries may consist of one or two of the representative placements on a single DVD or in a digital format. The two-page summary should include usage statistics or other means of quantified measurement to support stated objectives.
Video productions of one minute or less distributed to television stations, audio productions of one minute or less distributed to radio stations, or ads distributed to newspapers and/or magazines as non-paid Public Service Announcements. Single productions or a series addressing the same issue may be submitted. The two-page summary should include documentation of results. (Video submissions on DVD or in a digital format, audio submissions on CD or in a digital format, and print submissions need to include copies of the actual print PSA.)
T-14. VIDEO PROGRAM
Video programs targeted toward internal audiences such as employees, members, etc. or targeted toward external audiences. Entrants should submit programs on a DVD or in a digital format as a reasonable representation. The two-page summary should include usage statistics or other means of quantified measurement to support stated objectives.
T-15. SOCIAL MEDIA/DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS
Digital and social media tactics designed to inform an audience or media target about an organization, product, service or issue, as part of a public relations program. Entrants should submit the tactic in a digital format or should include the URL. Include screen grabs or copies of key pages to support your two-page summary. In addition, include the website URL for external sites.
T-16. WORD OF MOUTH/VIRAL TACTIC
Creative tactics used to create buzz within a target audience. Tactics that get key audiences talking or provide an avenue for conversation through the use of different techniques, such as viral marketing, sampling programs, loyalty programs, etc.
Publications designed, written and published periodically to provide brief and timely information to target audiences while supporting an organization’s overall objectives. Submit three consecutive issues along with the two-page summary. For online or electronic versions, submit in a digital format or include the URLs.
T-18. PRINTED COMMUNICATION
Magazine, brochure or single-issue publication designed for a special purpose, to provide in-depth information about an organization or topic on a regular basis, or to inform a target audience about an organization, product, service or issue. Submit one copy of the publication along with the summary.
T-19. ANNUAL REPORT
Publications which report on an organization’s annual performance. Submit one copy of the publication along with the summary. For online or electronic versions, submit the annual report on a CD or DVD.
T-20. DIRECT MAIL/DIRECT RESPONSE
Communications designed to solicit a specific, immediate response by the target audience. This can be a single communication or a series. Quantifiable, specific actions by the target audience recipients resulting solely from the sponsor’s communication should be detailed in the summary. Submit one copy of the publication along with the summary. For online or electronic versions, submit in a digital format or include the URL.
Submit text of speech along with summary. Summary should include information about the audience, purpose of the speech and any documented results against the stated objectives.
Paid advertising written as editorial matter to gain support for a product, issue, program or organization. Submit text of editorial matter and documentation of publication. The two-page summary should include target audience, measurable objectives and budget.
Research that provides a meaningful contribution or input to a public relations program, or an evaluation documenting the value or benefit of a public relations program or tactic. Sample of the methodology and findings of any research should be included in the entry, along with the summary. Summaries for evaluations should detail how and why the method is unique and valuable.
T-24. SMARTPHONE/TABLET APPLICATIONS (New)
Use of smartphone and/or tablet applications as part of a public relations program. Include copy and any images of key pages to support your two-page summary. In addition, include brief instructions on how to download the application.
*Entries within these categories must be written in their entirety or substantively by the entrant and not merely “pitched.”
Submission Instructions and Guidelines
We no longer accept physical hard copies of entries. Please submit all entries in digital format. Only one (1) file may be uploaded, so please combine all of your supporting materials into one file. Files cannot exceed 5MB. If you have any graphics, photos or videos, please include links in your supporting material to the files. Make sure the links are easily accessible with proper level of permission.
To submit a single entry, select the corresponding “PRSA members – single” category, which relates to your entry. For example, to submit a single Advertorial category as a PRSA member, please select the category: (PRSA members – bundle) Advertorial.
To submit a bundle of three entries for discounted pricing, select three (3) corresponding “PRSA members – bundle” categories, which relate to your entries. A bundle will only be valid with three entries. If you are submitting more than three entries, e.g. five (5) in total, then you will choose three (3) “PRSA members- bundles” and two (2) “PRSA members – singles” categories.
To submit a single entry, select the corresponding “Non-members – Single” category, which relates to your entry.
To submit a bundle of three entries for discounted pricing, select the corresponding “Non-members – Bundle” categories, which relates to your entries. A bundle will only be valid with three entries. If you are submitting more than three entries, e.g. five (5) in total, then you will choose three (3) “Non-members – Bundles” and two (2) “Non-members – singles” categories.
Pro Bono entries:
Whether you are a PRSA member or non-member, to submit a Pro Bono entry(ies) for discounted pricing, select the corresponding “PRSA members and non-members Pro Bono” category(ies).
To pay, either use the PayPal option for credit card payment or submit a check to the address provided.
The category you choose will reflect on your payment. If you entered incorrectly, we will contact you for payment correction(s) before processing your application(s).
Should you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Early Bird Pricing (Deadline: June 30, 2017)
PRSA members single entry: $70
PRSA members bundle of three entries: $192
Non-members single entry: $85
Non-members bundle of three entries: $237
PRSA members and non-members: $45
Your Entry should include:
- Two-page entry summaries are required and are the primary method used by judges to score an entry.
- 100-word descriptions of entries are required.
Essential Entry Components:
The summary is the primary component of each Spotlight Award entry. Judges evaluate your clear and concise statement of need, challenge or issue; your identification of the public relations goal; your research; your communications strategies and tactics; and your results. All entries require a summary of no more than two pages, regardless of category (-ies) entered.
Research and Planning
Who specifically initiated the research? Was it in response to a problem or to examine a potential problem? Did research help to redefine or confirm the situation? How was the research relevant to shaping the planning process and defining the audience(s) or the situation?
How do the plans correlate with the research findings? Who was involved in the planning? In a brief overview, what was the plan? Be sure to include all of the following: measurable objectives of the program, target audiences, measurable strategies employed, tactics used and general timeline. Budget information must be provided.
How were the plans executed? What were the results? Were there any difficulties encountered? If so, how were they handled? Were other nontraditional tactics (e.g., advertising) employed? Were the budgeted funds effectively allocated? The judges will consider professionalism – and creativity.
Evaluation / Results
What method(s) of evaluation were used? How were results related to research findings? Were objectives met? Did the program stay within budget? Why or why not? Note: While media circulation figures or clip counts represent one way of measuring, they are not acceptable as the only means of quantitative measurement.
Need more info? Contact us at email@example.com.
We look forward to shining a spotlight on your best work!
Tips from past winners (and long-time judges)
- Tips on winning a Spotlight Award – Barbara Kerr, APR
- Tips on winning a Spotlight Award – Tom Unger, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA
Learn by example: Winning two-page summaries
Consider modeling your entry after one of these award-winning entries: