Is it all about the award win?

Do awards mark the be all and end all of a great agency? Two PR experts fight their metaphorical corners…

“YES” says Radhina Almeida Coutinho, Regional Director, TRACCS UAE

RadhinaCoutinho“Awards are an agency’s armour – proof that the work it does is outstanding, effective and industry leading”

If there ever was an event that proved the case for awards, we all watched it last month. From films, to directors, actors to cinematographers, the title “Oscar-winner” opens doors, delivers contracts on desks and changes the course of careers.

While the industry produces thousands of films each year featuring several thousand brilliant actors, it’s only a chosen few that rise to the top. Arguably this is due to the strength of their performances, and canny choice of scripts – but there’s no denying that once that hallowed title of Oscar-winner has been achieved, the opportunities to shine again increase ten-fold.

Awards matter. They bring visibility, attention and longevity to work done in the creative field; they commend impressive results and reward innovation. In a crowded communications landscape where clients and consumers are constantly bombarded by great work and campaigns, they help agencies stand out above the rest.

And awards should matter. An award-winning agency gets called upon to do more interesting work. It’s a fact of life – success breeds success and having a few awards under your belt as an agency or a PR practitioner gives you the opportunity to work on more challenging and rewarding accounts.

It’s often said that awards are an agency’s armour – proof that the work it does is outstanding, effective and industry leading.

But to me, I think awards matter more because they push people to think bigger and better. To challenge the norm, look for different solutions, structure campaigns so that they not only create a big bang but translate into concrete, measurable outcomes.

Most industry awards place a great deal of emphasis on impact – which, as an agency, is something clients value too. So creating an award-winning PR campaign that captures headlines and delivers real value is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

The trick is to focus on results as much as the creative aspect. Big ideas and bigger stunts may produce great headlines but they are an expensive business, and if clients don’t see them translating into results this can lead to problems. No client wants to be slapped with a big bill just so that its agency can take home another shiny trophy.

Agencies that make award-winning campaigns that work for their clients, give the limelight to clients’ products and services rather than their own creative efforts, and develop innovative and impactful campaigns will always have something to be proud of.


“NO” says Alisa D’Souza, Public Relations Director, Blue Apple Mediacom

AlisaDSouza1“If you win an award, it’s all too easy to wear it as a badge of honour and let your work take a backseat”

When considering whether award wins act as the mark of a great agency, there was no question that I would strongly advocate the ‘no’ side of this particular debate.

Awards don’t define the success of an agency. Awards, especially in this part of the world, hold little significance. So at our practice, we prefer to focus on the job at hand and give our clients tangible results rather than superficial recognition.

Our strength as a boutique PR agency lies in our ability to deliver what we promise. We would rather propose eight out of 10 and surprise you with 12, than promise 14 and give you two. A realistic approach is what we offer and real is what we are! We genuinely believe in our relationships with our clients and the media, and this is so much more important than one which takes focus off the real task at hand.

When I walk into an office I don’t want to see a wall adorned with shiny medals, trophies and plaques. I want to feel energy, see creativity and a positive vibe. If there is no soul, no award can make up for it. While PR is often viewed as a superficial industry with a lot of glamour-driven air-headed bimbos, what PR needs is a juggler. And no I’m not talking about a circus! A good PR professional is someone who can juggle a million different tasks and still wear a smile at the end of a hard day.

To shamelessly lift a quote from Shakespeare, “All that glitters is not gold.” What looks good from the outside does not necessarily glisten from within. That is precisely why awards do not guarantee a successful agency.

If you win an award, it’s all too easy to wear it as a badge of honour and let your work take a backseat. Most winners of such awards don’t feel the need to go the extra mile, because in their mind, they have already reached the final destination.

Need I say more?

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