An amateur bystander

‘Fannying around with press releases’ is an accusation Daniel Cleaver once levelled at Bridget Jones but it’s one most public relations consultants have heard. But the reality of the profession is far more complicated than that, as judging day for the CorpComms Awards shows. Among all the categories, there is no award for Best press release.

Judging day shines a light on the wealth of excellent work going on in the industry and there is truly no better place to see it than spread out in front of a group of in-house and agency communicators as they discuss it. Everything from public affairs to digital-led campaigns is examined, investigated and looked at from more angles than a dodecahedron. Every aspect of a campaign is deconstructed, uncovering depth to clever campaigns, or perhaps, for the unlucky few, highlighting the lack of it.

 It is not uncommon for judges to disagree. We ask our judges to do their homework and they come armed with their favourites already in mind, but this often changes once they discuss them with other professionals. Someone might be an expert in a particular area, like finance or charity work, and their unique insight can change the way the room sees something.

 A campaign which succeeds in one room may falter in another, simply because of the people who see it and their priorities. In the room I oversaw, we had one judge who prioritised creativity and another who zeroed in on results. Those that had both did particularly well, but where results sometimes lacked, creativity blossomed, and vice versa.

 And there is another lesson in that: there is an art to writing award submissions. Too often, the results are either buried in an overlong entry or, worse, completely non-existent and no matter how good the actual campaign may be, if the entrant fails to get this across to the judges in 600 words, how can they possibly know?

 But, for me, the volume of differing viewpoints is why I love judging day. It demonstrates the sheer complexity within the communications industry, which allows for such diversity of opinion. The world of communications is not monolithic. You can communicate for one sector and never understand the challenges of another. But judging day opens a window.