Award, award, my kingdom for award

In his dotage Unspun forgets things and gets worked up with what he has forgotten.

What’s been making Unspun envious and full of FOOM the past two days is his timeline on Linked in and FB of colleagues in the PR Industry beating their chests in absolute humility and congratulating themselves, being grateful to their colleagues, cousin and their dogs for winning a REGIONAL PR AWARD!

Why aren’t we in the limelight, wearing decent clothes and tuxes receiving such awards. Did we even bother to enter for the prestigious award? In a foul mood Unspun rounded on the junior Mavbro who’s been charged with entering our work for PR Awards.

“Why aren’t we winning any of those awards?” Unspun bellowed. “Did we even submit any entries/”

The hapless junior stammered, “Well, we didn’t submit for it this year. We did but it ended in a bad way…”

Then it clicked. Unspun’s grey cells rallied for a reach into the distant past 12 months. Luckily he had chronicled the incident here.

It turns out that the whole enterprise had been a rapacious scheme to squeeze hard earned fees from PR firms. We were called early by he organizer to attend because we would win an award, but to attend it we had to pay. And pay for the award and the accompanying video.

We decided that it was not worth it. And time has proven us right. Our business has not suffered an iota without that award. In fact we have been doing very well, with an EBIDTA that would make some of the big boys green with envy.

So now Unspundoesn’t feel that bad anymore not being on stage, smiling the pepsodent smile, proclaiming to all the world how humbled I feel while blasting his humility all over social media, thanking colleagues and wonderful people whose support he could not have done without.

What this means at the end of the day, though, is that the tux would have to be mothballed  for another year, another award.


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?