PRSA Phoenix Copper Anvil entries are due in less than two weeks, information of which can be found here. While the Copper Anvils are a huge honor we hope to share with our clients, one PRSA member was recently recognized with one of the highest honors someone in our profession can receive: The Silver Anvil Award.
The Silver Anvil is given to the best of the best in public relations practices. Unlike the Copper Anvils, only one award is given in each subcategory and is judged on a national level. To date, only two PRSA Phoenix members have received the honor since its inception, the first being Paula Pedene who has racked up three Silver Anvils (2004, 2007 and in 2010) during her career.
This year, PRSA Phoenix Chapter member Kari Mather of The Allstate Foundation –Southwest Region, received a Silver Anvil for her work in the Christina-Taylor Green Little Hands Playground, which was inspired by a highly-publicized and unthinkable tragedy.
On Jan. 8, 2011, six people were killed and 11 more wounded in a mass shooting and assassination attempt on Tucson’s Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In the days following, Allstate’s Southwest Regional office in Phoenix received multiple calls and emails from Tucson employees and Allstate agencies who were struggling to recover in the aftermath of a tragedy that had killed their friends, neighbors and customers.
Realizing we had to do something to help renew the Tucson community spirit, the Southwest Corporate Relations team, which administers The Allstate Foundation, found an answer: a playground. Listening to Roxanna Green, the mother of the youngest victim who lost her life that day, on “Johnjay & Rich in the Morning,” we were inspired to build The Christina-Taylor Green Little Hands Playground in Christina's honor. From there, the pieces fell together for what would be one of the most moving and challenging professional experiences our small team has encountered.
I wanted to give some background perspective before providing the tactical “meat” of this blog post because it’s important to note who and what propelled us to create this project: inspiring Christina-Taylor Green and a city in distress. Passion is what makes us as PR practitioners good at what we do; passion can be felt in our work; passion is what transfers into winning awards. This project was born of the passion to honor Christina-Taylor Green and to help a community heal.
That said, we’re also results oriented business professionals in a data-driven workplace. To create award-winning projects from scratch, you need objectives, a strategic plan and measurable results. Here are some high-level tips that helped us win the PRSA Silver and Bronze Anvil Awards – the highest honor among practitioners for strategic (Silver) and tactical (Bronze) public relations:
- Brevity but with bravado – Your passion needs to be transparent in the work you accomplished. When submitting for an award, ensure the entry “voice” is strong and confident, but keep it straight and to the point. Writing a two-page maximum award entry for a complex project with multiple stakeholders was one of our most challenging tasks.
- Set attainable goals early on – Plan rationally and then overshoot your mark. Nothing is more disappointing to a client or to judges than over promising and under-delivering. Set realistic goals in your plan, and then rock your execution so that you meet or exceed those measures.
- How do you STANDOUT? – What did you do different, better or more creatively? Package your entry to highlight the tactics that made the project amazing. For the playground, we used a tagline and logo “Renew, Honor, Play” to represent the purpose of the project. The logo was branded on all of the collateral, including the press kits that were delivered to media in backpacks. These backpacks symbolized 400 others given to a needy school at the playground dedication.
- Integrate and communicate – Part of our role as PR practitioners is to be integrators. Earn the respect of another practitioner by exemplifying the ability to articulate your role as a key integrator working toward a complex business solution.
- Back it up! – As the saying goes, “proof is in the pudding.” Give reason and motivation behind your work, demonstrate a need and then show measurements to align with objectives. Fortunately, Allstate is a data-driven company that conducts numerous surveys, but if you’re on a budget, consider a site like Survey Monkey to track results against objectives. For example, one of The Allstate Foundation’s focus areas is “Safe & Vital Communities,” yet according to our Reputation Institute survey results, the awareness among our stakeholders was low in Tucson prior to the project. We were able to positively move that awareness and report it in quantifiable measurements.
- Dream big and then sweat the details – Think about the “best case scenario” in a project outcome during the planning phase. We saw the playground dedication ceremony culminating with the release of live butterflies -- the subject of Christina’s last piece of artwork. The high temperatures in Tucson, concern about having the correct butterfly for the habitat and our ultra sensitivity toward the Green family made that a risky proposition. But we interviewed the butterfly release vendor thoroughly, vetted the idea with the Greens, tested a limited butterfly release and then babysat the butterflies the morning of the dedication ceremony. The ceremony was capped by the butterfly release we’d dreamt about and also made happen.
And you too can dream big and make it happen! I hope to see you all at the PRSA Phoenix Copper Anvil Awards, passionate and #winning!