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Virgin’s Tamara Pickett on winning awards: ‘No matter negative or positive, spark a feeling in someone’

The Drum Awards for PR recognizes excellence in the PR and communications industry, celebrating the professionals that guide the communications of companies, governments and organizations. Ahead of judging the 2021 awards, the chair of this year’s jury, Tamara Pickett, group communications & external relations director at Virgin, spoke to The Drum about lessons from the pandemic, the biggest changes in the media landscape, and sending Richard Branson to space.

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This year marks the second time that Pickett has been involved in judging the awards. In the past, the entries that impressed her most were ones that demonstrated the might of good PR – regardless of budget. “We saw some amazing campaigns that had really large-scale measures, but also amazing campaigns with very small budgets. [Success] is about really demonstrating impact, showing really good use of budgets both large and small – all the judges were making that point, and I think it’s more crucial now than ever.”

She adds that personal stories that resonate also tend to stand out. “It’s something we should all think about – really effective storytelling that strikes a chord with people. It’s important to prompt a reaction, no matter if it’s negative or positive, sparking a feeling in someone.” Her advice is to keep focused on that point of emotional connection. “If you can bring that to life through your award entry, it makes a massive difference.”

Through the challenges of recent years, bold, creative campaigns have often come to the fore. “There are new ideas out there, some fantastic ideas born of the past year. As well as showing good value for budget, really showing how you have made a difference and achieved behavior change or increased a customer base is more important now than ever before.”

Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel.

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