Scottish PR Awards results round-up
IPR President Jon Aarons (far right) presents the staff of MEA PR with the Grand Prix lamp standard.“We hear far too many negative things about the PR industry. But the profession I see every day is very different from the image you read about in the papers. The reality is that our industry is full of people who day in and day out deliver a brilliant service and who consistently demonstrate the value of effective communications to their clients and their employers.”
In her opening speech the IPR Scotland’s newly appointed chair, Jane Cumming, captured exactly why 220 of Scotland’s leading PR professionals had decided to gather together in a room at the first ever Scottish PR Awards. It was to toast the consultancies which are capable of planning and implementing innovative PR campaigns, sole practitioners who can achieve real results, in-house teams which are steering their organisations in the right direction and, of course, to have a glass or two of chardonnay.
It may have been a long time coming, but support from the PR industry highlighted the fact that now the PR awards are here they are here to stay as a regular on the PR calendar.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was often the smaller consultancies which dominated during the judging, which took place in April, and inevitably as the awards were handed out.
The judging panel consisted of Alex Pagett of Hilton International, Dorothy Fenwick of RailTrack, Martin Raymond of the Health Education Board of Scotland, Kate Nicholas, editor of PR Week, David Appleton of The Royal Bank of Scotland and Richard Draycott of The Drum.
While the poor standard of financial PR available in Scotland left the judges in a state of shock, medical help was on hand in the form of Mervyn Edgecombe’s MEA Public Relations’ consumer and public affairs work for HCI International Medical Centre (see page 19) which scooped both categories and was also named best of show with the Grand Prix.
In the Best Consumer Category the judges concluded of MEA’s HCI campaign: “On the evidence of the cuttings supplied with the case study and obviously of what we all know of the former perceptions of HCI, MEA had a very tough brief to fulfil. They tackled that challenge in an interesting way. The campaign has been handled very professionally and the results achieved are marked.”
Retaining their crown as Scottish PR Consultancy of the Year was Atlantic PR, the winners of the accolade when it was last handed out in 2000. Competing against short-listed agencies CitigateSMARTS and Weber Shandwick, Atlantic finally won out after immense debate because the agency directors, Malcolm Brown and David Southern, operate a tight and professional operation, which looks way beyond media relations for much of its revenue. The quality of CitigateSMARTS and Weber Shandwick cannot be doubted, they are, after all, amongst the giants of Scottish PR. David Appleton of The Royal Bank of Scotland said: “Atlantic have absolutely no clutter. They do a very good solid job for a wide range of different clients and, most importantly, they get results. They retain both clients and staff, which is absolutely essential if you are going to run a cost effective business.”
This year’s Hamp Hamilton Young Communicators Award was handed to Elaine Morrison of Leedex Euro RSCG for her campaign to raise awareness of Morgan’s Spiced’s sponsorship of the Glasgow Underground.
The judges were looking for something a little different, something that went beyond the realms of good PR practice. Morrison was praised for implementing an innovative and unusual campaign that was not solely hinged on media relations.
To a large extent the Scottish PR industry is littered with lone practitioners and the judges voted Scott Thornton of Scot PR worthy of being named Best Independent Practitioner.
Speaking of Thornton, the judges said: “There are indeed some very good independent operators out there, but Scott is certainly moving in the right direction and looking to expand his services. He also has a good range of clients, who appear to be paying him decent fees.”
Business to business PR is big business and 3x1 scooped the prestigious award for its launch of the Looney Tunes Water brand for Highland Spring. The campaign gained incredible coverage in business and trade media, ensuring that the major retailers stocked the brand.
David Budge of David Budge Associates stepped up to collect the Best Community Campaign award for the consultancy’s Wind of Change work, which looked to gain public acceptance of a wind farm development in Moray.
The judges said: “The Wind of Change campaign was an all round solid campaign and took an interesting route to achieve its final objective. The team thought about all the aspects of the campaign and acted in a professional and measured way, with excellent results.”
Moving to the in-house side, Rehab Scotland collected the Best Charity Campaign for raising awareness of its plight through extensive human-interest media coverage that was handled in a sensitive and professional manner.
The internal communications team at Scottish Gas also collected an award for raising awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning amongst those at risk while positioning the company as an expert in the field. The campaign was judged to be innovative, well timed and implemented professionally.
However, the Best In-house Team award was awarded to the team at North of Scotland Water. The judges concluded: “The team at North of Scotland Water have had a number of challenges to face and have had to communicate a large amount of change to a wide range of people. Working together as a team, a solid unit, they have comprehensively met their objectives.”
PR and new media are often juxtaposed, but the Best Use of New Media category saw a very traditional client use the most modern technology to far exceed its objectives. The team at the St Andrews Links Trust used the online medium to raise awareness and market the Old Course Starter’s Box, which was up for sale. The internet enabled them to reach a worldwide audience and vastly increase the revenue made from that sale.
All in all, the overall quality of the entries was high. There were some areas for improvement, particularly in the public sector and internal communications programmes. The lack of financial PR practitioners appears to be something that most in Scotland have got used to but, with Edinburgh’s strong financial position, perhaps there is a gap in the market developing.