Time To Step Up, NCC

By Samantha Villegas, APR, PRSA-NCC past president and PRSA Board member

In January, a few of my colleagues and I, who are also more senior like me, were recognized by the chapter for our contributions. It was an honor, and something I will always cherish.

My colleagues and I who received these honors do a lot for the chapter and always have. Between us, we have received more than our fair share of these awards, if that’s possible. I think it’s safe to say that service is in our DNA, but also, as senior practitioners, we each feel a deep sense of gratitude and purpose for PRSA and giving back just feels right.

But, I don’t want this award again.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s an incredible honor, and I am humbled by the recognition. Both awards I have received from the chapter have a prominent place on the bookshelf in my family room and I absolutely cherish them. What’s more, I have no plans to stop serving in whatever capacity I can to advance our mission. But, it’s time for others to be recognized.

This is not a comment on the nomination or selection process. I don’t deny we were – and are – deserving of the recognition. This is a comment on the rest of you. I don’t mean to come across harsh here. But, it’s time to step up.

When you do, here’s what I can promise: Succeed or fail, if you try and put some heart into it, you will learn. You will advance. You will make friends. Most of all, you will gain life-long, trusted colleagues who will mentor you, recommend you, and stand by you (or tell you when you need to be told that you are wrong) as my fellow award winners do with me and I love them for it. But, time is ticking, and your chance to make a difference is now.

So, step up, jump in, and really give this organization and its members the same care and attention PRSA has given you throughout your career. And, when you get the award next time, as I will be hoping you do, I’ll be in the crowd clapping loudest!

Samantha Villegas, APR is currently a national PRSA Board member. Sam was 2016 Chair of NCC’s IPRA, 2013 president of PRSA-NCC, and she served in several other capacities over the years including Mid-Atlantic District Chair, District Rep to the National Nominating Committee, Professional Advisor to GMU, Assembly Delegate, and APR Chair. She was the 2015 recipient of NCC’s Platinum Award and the 2017 recipient of the Diamond Award. 


Five Ways to Know if Your PR Campaign is Thoth Award Material

*Originally published on May 23, 2016; For the 2017 Thoth Award deadlines, see dates below this article.

By Robert V. Krueger, Senior Director, Public Relations & Social Media at the Urban Land Institute

From left to right: Sandra Wills Hannon, Ph.D., APR, Principal, The Hannon Group, @Willshannon; Jeff Wilson, APR, Senior Director, Business Develoment & Agency Marketing, PadillaCRT, @Wilson0507; Brigitte Johnson, APR, Adjunct Professor, Marymount University, @JohnsonHerronB; and standing Sultana Ali, APR, PRSA-NCC

From left to right: Sandra Wills Hannon, Ph.D., APR, Principal, The Hannon Group, @Willshannon; Jeff Wilson, APR, Senior Director, Business Develoment & Agency Marketing, PadillaCRT, @Wilson0507; Brigitte Johnson, APR, Adjunct Professor, Marymount University, @JohnsonHerronB; and standing Sultana Ali, APR, PRSA-NCC

Every week public relations agencies, non-profits, government agencies, and private in-house communications teams research, design, and execute a variety of campaigns that help their clients achieve certain goals. But, many outstanding campaigns never receive their due recognition.

For years, public relations practitioners have entered their campaigns into industry competitions. In addition, it can be seen as a badge of honor for organizations and individuals to attach a communications award to their portfolio. But, submitting entries for a Public Relations Society of America – National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) Thoth Award or any other PR and communication award can be an intimidating process that is full of uncertainty.

A recent PRSA-NCC panel offered insight into the process and sought to break any myths surrounding what types of campaigns – both big and small – are worthy of winning Washington’s most prestigious award.  The panelists were: Jeff Wilson, APR, Senior Director, Business Development & Agency Marketing, PadillaCRT; Sandra Wills Hannon, Ph.D., APR, Principal, The Hannon Group; Brigitte Johnson, APR, Adjunct Professor, Marymount University; and the discussion was moderated by Sultana Ali, APR, PRSA-NCC President & Communications Officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Based on their discussion, below is a list of five ways you can decide whether your campaign should be submitted for a Thoth award:

  1. Perform a broad-stroke litmus test: First ask yourself whether your campaign was compelling and whether there were clear, measurable objectives that were achieved. Second, did it include a well-designed and clear strategic plan or was it simply tactical? Third, was it beautifully executed? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is there evidence that your goals were achieved?
  2. Check if there was a clear demonstration of research: If you pass the litmus test, you must be able to prove you utilized primary and/or secondary research in designing your plan. Judges of any PR competition always want to see a foundation of research. Before developing a campaign, you should do an environmental scan and see if there is any secondary research available that is applicable to your goals. In addition, even if you do not have the budget to conduct primary research, many organizations choose the more affordable route and latch on to other firms’ research through omnibus.
  3. Determine whether the execution was both targeted and strategic: Was your campaign planning targeted and based on your research? Did you have a primary and secondary audience? If securing media placements was one of your tactics, did the outlets that covered you make sense regarding target audience and objectives?
  4. Evaluate whether your results were both measurable and mirrored your objectives: Was the execution appropriate to the audience you were targeting? Did the target of the execution match the target audience of your client’s goals? Also determine whether your campaign results data proved whether goals were achieved. When doing this, make sure each result matches each stated objective.
  5. Be able to state your client’s problem and how you solved it: Judges always want to see if your submission can explain what the problem was for your client—and how your campaign helped solve that problem.

Susan Matthews Apgood, News Generation, Inc., kicks off the event

Of course it is always best to keep these things in mind before you research and design a campaign. The panel suggested to always craft a campaign as if you would one day submit it to a competition. An additional piece of advice offered was to serve as a judge for other communication competitions, get additional training through PRSA’s APR accreditation, and to review the entries of winning submissions – all which can help you become familiar with the components of a winning entry.

*Updated from original post:
The early bird deadline is Friday, June 30, 2017, and the final deadline is July 24, 2017. For details on submitting, please visit: http://www.prsa-ncc.org/thoth_awards.