Lessons from the Silver Anvils

Just like the Academy Awards for actors, public relations professionals are given the opportunity to shine with a PRSA Silver Anvil. The honor of receiving a Silver Anvil should not be taken lightly. In a concise two-page summary, PR firms, corporations, government agencies, non-profits and the like, painstakingly detail the elements of their program in a manner that fulfills and exceeds public relations principles. When the awards are handed out, the winners truly represent the best of the best nationally.

I’ve had the privilege and honor of being among the 150 judges from throughout the county to review the submissions and select the winners. For the third year, I traveled to New York City in March to spend 8 hours in a conference room reviewing the entries, discussing the program implementation, the tactics chosen and the support material. A team of four judges review one or more categories. This year I judged Crisis Communications and Business-to-Business Other.

What an incredible experience! Not only do we scour the entries soaking in the details, but we have the opportunity to review all the materials that went into making it possible. Plus, it’s a great idea generator for your own programs.

This year was the best yet. The other three judges were from large New York firms and have held a variety of positions including one who is sought after as an expert by several national news outlets (I also think with one call he could have gotten me into any hot New York restaurant…next time!). The conversation and the ability to discuss trends and the professional were well worth the trip cost.

All in all, here’s what I learned…

·         That just because you work at a boutique communications firm in Reno, Nevada, doesn’t mean that you don’t understand current trends.  It means you implement them. 

·         That results from being assertive in seeking out knowledge from larger markets and minds pays off. Be a sponge.

·         You can hold your own, even in the midst of larger firms, because the layers are removed and teamwork proves to the most valuable asset.

·         That honestly, integrity and doing what’s right always wins the day.  

·         That programs that you think are the best thing you’ve ever done, which is probably true, is only as good as the next entry but should never be minimized.

·         Healthy debate is liberating, reassuring and needed.

·         That communications professionals are the glue during crisis situations.

·         That a majority of professionals are not ready for this next phase. 

·         That today’s communicator needs to be quick, savvy, understand the tools available (and use them), be mobile and above all recognize opportunities—they are everywhere!

·         Making new friends is rewarding.  I had the opportunity to meet a fellow judge through Twitter two days before arriving and then met for coffee before judging.  Also that photos on Twitter really help in finding who you are meeting. 

·         And finally, that writing is still the professions bread and butter. 

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