Why submitting your work for an award is a good idea

Close of photo of four rows of Silver Anvil Award trophies.

Five reasons to enter your work and two tips to help you win

You probably saw the 2021 call for entries to the PRSA Silver Anvil awards. You may have looked it over and considered entering, but decided you just don’t have the time to do it this year. Well, you should make time. The deadline for entry is Feb. 26. That’s plenty of time to put together a good entry.

As someone who has entered many awards competitions and judged many, many more, I can tell you that there are five good reasons you should make an effort to enter you work for a Silver Anvil.  

1.       It forces you to take a critical look at your work. It’s not just winning that counts. The application process is worth the effort. Anvil judges evaluate campaigns on four criteria — insights and analysis, planning, execution and evaluation — that you share in a two-page summary. Narrowing down all the aspects of your campaign into just two pages makes you aware of the strengths (and weaknesses) of your work. Reading through your results gives you a sense of accomplishment.

2.       Free publicity. Just being listed as a nominee for a Silver Anvil can open doors to new business and new contacts. As a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence winner I’ve been asked to speak at events and have even received job offers.

3.       Increased credibility. Winning a Silver Anvil (or any industry award) provides a credible third-party endorsement of you and your organization. Just like an Oscar, Emmy or Pulitzer serve as reminders of excellence long after the awards ceremony, Silver Anvils have long-lasting value. Award winning campaigns and tactics are featured in text books, presented as case studies at conferences and events, and serve as inspiration for the next generation.

4.       Helps with morale and recruiting. Employee morale and motivation improve when an organization wins an award. The process for putting together your entry can be a team-building exercise. You can revisit the strategies and tactics you used, highlighting successes of the team. Awards also help with recruiting. People want to work with the best and brightest.

5.       Have something to share at Thanksgiving dinner. Did your cousin the chemist invent a cure for crab grass? Don’t let them get all the glory. Celebrate your victory with your family. Your mother will be so proud.

Now that you’ve decided to enter, make sure you put your best foot forward. Here are two tips for creating a winning entry.

1.       Read and follow the directions. If the application asks you to include a detailed budget, make sure to include a detailed budget. Include the number of hours your team spent on the campaign. If the instructions limit you to a two-page overview, don’t submit three pages. Those small errors can mean the difference between winning and losing.

2.       Evaluate your objectives. List your objectives and make sure they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). I like to number my objectives and then turn them into results. This helps me make sure I’ve correlated each objective to an outcome. Your measures need to be valid. If you’re still using impressions as a measure, you need to watch a PRSA webinar on evaluation. There are many different ways to measure effectiveness; get creative.

Now, gather your team and your data and put together a great entry! In all seriousness, there are many benefits to entering the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards or any PR awards program (PRSA Oregon Spotlight Awards for example). The most important benefit is the sense of pride and accomplishment you get from sharing something you believe in with your peers. Good luck!

Sally Ridenour has received nine national awards for her communications work including a PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for an internal communications campaign. She currently works for the Oregon Department of Transportation as the chief content strategist. Prior to working for the state, she worked in sales and marketing. She is an accredited member of PRSA and has served in several different leadership roles within our chapter. Sally is a graduate of the University of Idaho. In her spare time, sheenjoys entering recipe contests and going on adventures with her family and dogs.