MIXed blessings

This too shall pass, is the refrain that comes to mind when Unspun first heard that his workplace, Maverick, has won Mix Magazine’s PR Agency of the Year 2011 Award. The award ceremony will take place at Nikko Hotel this Thursday (June 23).

In addition three of Maverick’s clients, in which we played a supporting role in their PR efforts, also won awards. They are: AXIS (Silver award) for its Menang Bareng Campaign under the Marketing PR category;  the US Embassy in Jakarta (Silver Award) for berbagi Indonesia, a campaign to welcome President Obama; and, perhaps ironically, the embattled Mandala Airlines (Gold Award) for its Issues Management as it sought to restructure the airline.

The latest edition of MIX magazine

Being recognized is a pleasant, event flattering experience, but Unspun’s attitude to awards has always had a flaw: Unspun tends to look gift horses in the mouth, such as here.

Did we and our clients deserve to win all those awards? Most probably yes. But did we win it through a stringent and robust process of selection with stringent criteria that cuts to the heart of what PR consultancies offer? Not really.

While Mix is to be commended for taking the effort to write about and recognizing good work done in the PR industry, it has still some way to go to show that it fully understands the PR industry and what constitutes excellence in this profession.

Yet for all its foibles Mix’s PR Awards is a good start though and whether we like it or not, its the only show in town. So it deserves all the support the PR industry can give it.

It is perhaps for this reason that the informal grouping of PR professions who have organized ourselves as the Indonesian PR Practitioners Group are thinking of working with the magazine to come up with an even more rigorous selection process next year that would help boost the status of the profession.

Some of the ideas Unspun’s heard expressed include shifting the emphasis for the PR Agency of the Year Award from media relations  to a balance between strategic capability and arms-and-legs work; tightening the format of submissions so that all entrants have to comply or be penalized; clearer definitions and articulation of categories.

Others have suggested that the magazine perhaps start a directory of PR consultancies (another issue: should we call ourselves agencies or consultancies?) and only those who have registered and been vetted as PR firms, instead of Event Organizers or marketing/activation agencies, are allowed to vie for the awards; and greater transparency of how spokespersons and PR officers are judged for the awards.

One suggestion also involves getting the magazine to use Indonesian or, if it must use English, to use it properly; and to help the magazine’s journalists understand in-depth PR concepts, practice areas and issues.

These are some of the suggestions. Perhaps there are more constructive suggestions out there that the IPPG can bring to MIX when we meet them after the awards?







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