The Drum PR Awards has returned following its inaugural year to recognise the agencies, brands and people at the very top of PR.
The PR industry is more vital than ever. Guiding the communications of companies, governments and organisations effectively remains the skill of a select group of professionals.
This year's jury includes experts from Snap, Diageo, Moonpig, Funko, Persuasion Comms, Stripe Communications, Y&R PR, Splendid Communications, Hope and Glory PR and Newsworks, with more to be annouced.
Below is a rundown on seven of our stellar judges:
Chief executive officer and head of creative strategy
Samways is the chief executive officer and head of creative strategy at Splendid Communications. He founded Splendid in 2004 to build a communications agency that creates value for brands in the real world. His previous roles included head of global consumer practice at strategic research consultancy Datamonitor, and head of the brands division at Slice.
We were delighted to land Grand Prix at the Drum PR Awards in 2019 so it will be great to help pick the lucky winners this time around. The Drum comes from a more digital background so its take on PR is inevitably a more modern and engaging version than those who see PR as just ‘traditional’ media relations. I’ll be looking for the work that is grounded in great consumer insight and features standout creativity. I want to see original ideas that connect with people and have a lasting, positive impact. The award winners will prove that effective PR can shift the dial for clients in all kinds of ways, in the media and beyond.
Head of PR
Somlai is the head of PR at Moonpig, leading on all elements of consumer and business comms for the online greeting cards company. She has been with the business for a few years, previously looking after corporate reputation for Photobox Group. Prior to going in-house, Somlai worked with agencies in London, Silicon Valley and eastern Europe specialising in the technology, retail and marketing sectors.
I’m very excited to see the latest examples of brilliant creativity in PR. It takes a very clever idea to truly enrich people with a story – to give them something tangible that not only benefits a business but the reader too. I will be looking for campaigns that inspire people, have a clear objective and strong data to prove business impact.
Global head of brand commmunications
At Diageo, Lavipour leads corporate storytelling globally across its brands, marketing, innovation, and diversity and inclusion strategy. She also sits on the global marketing leadership team of the business. Prior to going in house, she worked at agencies Edelman and Pagefield on a broad range of clients across FMCG, media, pharmaceuticals and the third sector.
I’m looking for entries that demonstrate creative excellence, sound judgement and rigorous effectiveness. It was great to review so many brilliant entries in 2019, and for 2020 I’m excited to celebrate more work that starts conversation and builds reputation. I’m particularly looking forward to judging the ‘Diversity and Inclusion Company of the Year’ category – a topic close to my heart and one where we can all benefit from learning from best practice.
With over two decades of PR and communications industry experience, Walker is an expert at working closely with her clients to unearth and articulate their value proposition and disseminate their messages. She has served as a juror for the industry’s top award competitions, judging work from disease awareness campaigns and digital innovation to corporate reputation and crisis management categories.
The Drum PR Awards are wholly unique because they are reviewed by a cross section of communications professionals who can truly assess the ingenuity and value of the nominated PR activities. Personally, I am looking for programs centered on a well-founded insight and I would advise all candidates entering for the awards to fully explain the foundation and inspiration of the campaigns.
Austin founded Persuasion Communications 15 years after working on both national and trade press titles. She prides herself on keeping ahead of trends in the creative industries and beyond, hosting regular monthly events where opinion leaders explore cultural shifts in everything from Instagram art to afro-visibility. Prior to launching she was an editor on several advertising, media and design titles, including Campaign and Shots.
At Cannes Lions last year, more than half the winners were from PR agencies, so I think we can agree that PR is now rightly acknowledged as a craft in its own right, rather than just a channel. But that does mean the bar is set high for this year’s awards: I’d like to see long-term impact beyond the bottom line rather than ’stunt’, and – as this is 2020 – campaigns that make life a bit easier for whole communities, not just individuals.
Chief executive officer
Since founding Stripe 13 years ago, Simpson has grown the business to be one of the UK’s leading communications agencies. With offices in Edinburgh and London Stripe’s clients include John Lewis, Merlin Entertainment, ScottishPower, Edrington, MTV and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Prior to Stripe, she was head of PR, corporate communications and mass market campaigns for Vodafone Australia.
An increasing number of brands and businesses are starting to recognise the power of PR and the role it can play in delivering tangible business results. At its very best PR can be strategic, creative, smart, and highly effective. As a judge I will be looking for campaigns that have done all of that but the campaigns that truly stand out will be the ones where PR has led the organisation to solve a problem, to create or maximise an opportunity and where ultimately the work has made a difference.
Director of communications
Over his career, Rupert Smith has worked for press agency SWNS, PR agency 72Point and national and regional news publisher Trinity Mirror (now Reach). More recently, Rupert was Director of Communications EMEA at Publicis Media before joining the team at Newsworks in October last year.
Having worked in journalism, then in advertising and now back in the news industry I am really looking forward to judging these awards and learning from some of the best. There is some really strong work and storytelling going on across the PR industry and I am especially drawn to simple, creative ideas that deliver headlines and campaigns with lasting impact.
The early bird deadline for these awards is June 12. Download your entry pack now.