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What it really means to win the Suzy Spirit Award

The PR industry is pretty good at hosting awards ceremonies. We’re pretty good at recognising great work and patting one another’s backs as we waltz on to glitzy stages of London hotels. Last year, I ended up on one of those stages and it was an extremely surreal moment. 

It was surreal because I wasn’t with anyone else from my team, but was on my own, collecting an award that is truly different to any other in the industry; The Suzy Spirit Award. 

The award recognises what Suzy Ferguson stood for and awards people working in the industry who care about helping and inspiring those around them to do great work and enjoy going to work each day. Suzy was an inspirational person whose work impacted clients and her colleagues, plus she worked tirelessly in the community outside of work, even after she was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 2012 aged just 31. 

Being a relative young ‘un of the industry (alright, I have now joined the 31 club and have a handful of grey hairs sprouting near my sidies) I was totally gobsmacked to have even been in the mix for the award, but that’s because I think this industry is brimming with people that genuinely care for and inspire those who they work with day in, day out. 

In my career I’ve had countless colleagues who have gone the extra mile for others. 

I’ve had a CEO who has pulled accounts to maintain the happiness and wellbeing of their teams, directors who have noticed strains on other teams and jumped into help – be that selling in or packing up goodie bags – and many colleagues who ask ‘how are you mate?’ and actually cared about the answer. 

I’ve also been lucky enough to work with people who have taken time to teach me why an idea or campaign isn’t quite right and explain how it could be better. 

That’s how you become inspired to be better – and I’m sure we’ve all had colleagues who have played that role in our careers. 

This year we’ve seen mentorship programmes sprouting up across the industry, we’ve seen mental health initiatives being instated within many agencies and a plethora of superb charity campaigns delivered and driving change.  

All of this activity points to having a core (yet expansive) group of people within the industry who genuinely care about a) the people they work with, and b) driving change for the better. 

My point is that although the PR industry is great at relating to the public, we’re also pretty damn good at relating to the people that we spend 37.5 hrs (and the rest) with every week.  

If there’s somebody that’s inspired you in your career, who’s asked ‘how are you?’ and actually listened and acted on the answer, who’s picked you up when you’ve been a bit down, who’s proactively made a positive change at work or who’s inspired you to do something awesome, then act on it and nominate them for the Suzy Spirit Award in 2019. 

If it has the impact on them that it did on me, then it’ll be something that they’ll hold close for the rest of their careers.  

Written by Andy Garner, creative at agency Mischief PR

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