Agencies, it's time to bin your awards and move on

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Industry awards. The highest accolade your work can receive right? The pinnacle you can reach for all the hard work, late nights and bitten finger nails as you impatiently wait to see if your best laid plans have paid off for your clients.  Or just an inward looking, back slapping, money making exercises by industry bodies looking to capitalise on businesses’ never ending battle to out-do and out-shout competitors about how great they are?
There’s something almost addictive about the adrenaline-fuelled, nerve-wracking seconds as a buzzing room full of your industry peers falls silent after the shortlist is read out and the winner’s name is to be revealed.
The following moments are either a crushing blow to your stomach which leaves you feeling a hybrid of hollowness, sadness and perhaps some anger. You KNOW your campaign was amazing so how could it NOT win?!! OR, hopefully, you have that heart-in-mouth moment when your campaign is called out and time momentarily pauses as you look at your team mates to double check you just heard what you think you heard before half skipping,  half strutting to the stage to collect your gong.
But once you’ve returned to your seat – taken the obligatory team selfie and shared on Twitter using the event hashtag, just in case anyone present missed your success – what difference does winning make to your bottom line?
Directly? Nothing. And that’s why we’re saying bin them and move on.
Well, OK, maybe that’s not entirely true. Here at Smoking Gun PR, as our trophy cabinet shows, we enjoy walking away with an accolade or two. We know how good they make the staff feel who’ve worked so hard to achieve them and the importance of employee engagement, especially in this era of employee-led employment.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons in our most recent anonymous staff satisfaction survey that 95% of colleagues would ‘highly recommend’ working at Smoking Gun?
Happy staff produce great work and great work produces great results for clients. As we excel in measuring success in PR, we can then demonstrate to all stakeholders what a good job we’ve done and in turn this can often lead to award wins. A fantastic virtuous circle. But the key element is not the award win, instead it’s the proof of success.
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After all that’s our raison deter, and why we’re called Smoking Gun.
So we’ll never deny recognition means a lot. This year alone we’ve claimed Best Consumer Agency and Best Event, for our Virgin Holidays Tunnel To Barbados stunt, at the PRMoment Awards. That’s in addition to nominations for Best PR and Marketing Agency of the Year at the City of Manchester Business Awards (COMBA) and Best Small Agency at the forthcoming Prolific North ceremony, due to be held next month.
An honour and a privilege every time, although we love a good party (as many of our peers will know), what resonates most is the fact we’re being acknowledged by the wider business for the hard work clients love us for. And that kind of praise wouldn’t be possible without results, and a thorough, clear breakdown of those achievements.
Every firm we work with, every name we toil for, and every campaign we push receive the same treatment. 110% commitment from conception to final report. Moreover, when it’s all finished they get the Smoking Gun evidence of what we have done.
The awards we receive for our unique, forward thinking approach to measurement and evaluation are amongst the wins we’re most proud of, simply because they prove we don’t just try to overwhelm our clients with coverage from anywhere and everywhere. We overwhelm them with coverage that counts and reach that actually works- from social to traditional media, we’re all about delivering an active audience, not simply a random list of hits.
And that’s my fundamental point here. To articulate quite how proud I am every time we’re given a new addition to the mantelpiece could take forever. But that would still be far less of a task than conveying my feelings each time I receive a call from a brand thanking not just me, but the team, for our endeavours. Or every approach from a new prospect based on recommendations.
So, like I said earlier, although it would be false to claim that we don’t care about awards, realistically those awards are the icing on the cake. The filling- what the trophy stands for- is what matters the most. Not that I haven’t already made arrangements to ensure that as and when more success comes knocking, we have plenty of space to present the spoils.