The PRmoment Awards are like the start of a new football season, says W’s Mark Perkins

The deadline for the PRmoment 2018 awards has now closed. We’ve spent some quality time considering our best campaigns, planning what to enter and working right up to the line to make our entries happen.

It always strikes me that the PRmoment Awards are like the start of a new football season: the first industry awards of the calendar year. The turf is fresh and we pore over our squad of campaigns to see which will get selected for contention. Sometimes you can be Pep Guardiola with an embarrassment of riches to choose from, other times we are more like Harry Redknapp muttering about “being down the bare bones”. And over the course of “the season” we’ll do new work that we hope will find its way into contention, or deliver something that becomes the first name on the team sheet.

A while ago I participated in a panel event of creative directors discussing our work, where ideas originate, and the creative process. It happened to be the night after the PRmoment awards and I was pleased that my then agency (MHP) had a big haul of wins and flattered that my peers used the occasion to compliment our success. Indeed, all of the panellists mentioned award-winning work we were proud of.

And so it came the Q&A stage of the evening. Towards the end, a hand went up and an energetic chap asked the following question (although it was more of an accusation): “You are supposed to be creative people, but have all talked about awards. Surely it is about the PURITY of the creative work itself and not some big industry circle-jerk. Why do you even enter awards?”.

Despite the audible gasp, it was a good, fair question. So, here’s an elaboration to my original answer as to why awards matter:

We are PR people in a solutions business: We aren’t here to make works of art, but to deliver commercial results. There’s no place for the work we do in the Tate Modern and I’ve never harboured an ambition to be interviewed by Melvyn Bragg. Any PR person who does is in the wrong industry. (However, I wish I’d reminded the uppity young man at the time about the existence of The Turner Prize, The Booker Prize, The Oscars and so on).

 Ambition is a good thing: Whenever a brief comes in, irrespective of brand or budget I plan with the ambition that the response will be strong enough to win an award. It’s a great way to stress test insight, strategy, the originality of the creative, and how you will activate and evaluate. An award nomination is recognition you successfully built a campaign that considered all those elements and delivered meaningful impact.

We are in a competitive industry: Creatives and strategists in agencies across the UK are constantly raising the bar with inspired work. Awards are a way to keep you on your toes to continue producing original, high-impact results. Even if you don’t win or get shortlisted, you can still learn from the success of others and aim to do better next time.

Awards breed success: Once a team or agency wins an award, they develop a desire to repeat it – and especially so if the Finance Director makes the mistake of handing over the company card to celebrate the win.

Awards help to grow business: Trust me, prospective clients pay attention to who is doing well. Often, it’s only through being shortlisted that in-house teams become aware of the agency behind a campaign they loved. For existing clients, a win is great way to shout about you internally (and it doesn’t look bad on their own CV either).

It’s a great way to get to know your peers: For all the competition talk, people in the industry get on and have lots of respect for the work others do. Yet we spend most of our working lives in in meetings or scratching our heads trying to crack a brief. Most of my friends in the industry I first met in the bar at awards functions.

The only drawback is come the first awards night of the year, even if you think your work is in shape, you discover you are not. The trousers always seem tighter on the waist, there’s almost always a sauce stain on the jacket from a prior event and you may even find yourself waking in shame after pulling a calf muscle dancing to Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” in Tiger Tiger at 2am.

Come to think of it, maybe the lad had a point.