Ingredients for an award-winning campaign

spottydog team at the PRide awards

Communications is a crowded industry, and a shelf full of shiny industry awards can give you a competitive edge over your competitors. While there is no magic formula to winning an award, you can bet that every trophy-backed campaign has a generous sprinkle of strategy and lashings of creativity.

We’re proud to have won 30 awards — spanning PR, digital, creative and more — so we’d like to think we have a pretty good idea of how to create an award-worthy campaign (and a stellar entry to match). Here to discuss the key ingredients for an award-winning campaign is Account Director Zoe Gaffney.

1. Have well-defined objectives

Just like a chef’s knife, your objectives need to be sharpened for maximum precision. A campaign won’t win awards if its goals are wishy washy and without purpose. Think SMART when setting your campaign objectives — that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

The role of campaign objectives is to define the aim and provide you with direction — but they also do an excellent job of highlighting your success (if you meet or exceed them, of course). You could have executed an exciting, creative campaign, but if you can’t measure its success or benchmark it, where is the evidence? Subjectivity will play a part in a judge’s decision – but so will metrics.

2. Insight is everything

Before you even think about delving into strategy, a solid campaign will have insight at its heart. Whether it’s gathering demographic data, facilitating focus groups or delving into digital stats, it’s important to take time to understand your brand’s audience and industry. Not only will it allow you to create a strategy that will hit your goals, but the insight gained at the planning stage will also form a key element of your future award entry.

This piece of work may also help with finding nuggets of insight that could tip your campaign into award-winning territory. It could uncover a new customer trend that informs your strategy or a latent challenge that your campaign will have to overcome. It’s all the stuff that judges love – the CIPR dub it ‘killer insights’.

3. Nail the big idea

This is the part of the award entry where you need to stand out; it’s where creativity, strategy and innovation meet to form ‘the big idea’. When brainstorming your campaign concept, it’s key to think outside the box – taking inspiration from other brands can be helpful, but make sure you’re not recycling ideas. Let your insights guide you and look beyond the obvious.

Do remember, though, that not every ‘big idea’ needs to have bells and whistles. A creative campaign for a beauty brand will look very different to a creative campaign for an IT company. Oftentimes, you’ll find a B2B brand wins an award not because of its creativity, but because of its innovation and uniqueness in the sector it occupies.

4. Tactics matter

They say an idea is just an idea until you make it happen, so a key ingredient to campaign success is solid execution. There’s a fine line between choosing campaign tactics that work in principle versus practice – so make sure your tactics relate back to strategy, but also have the feasibility factor.

Award-winning campaigns will often use the PESO model too, harnessing Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned tactics to drive maximum impact. It means that your campaign message will work harder across channels and increase its chance of reaching the right people at the right time.

5. Show impact

Taking the steps we’ve mentioned will increase the chance of campaign success, and continual monitoring and optimising of tactics while it is live will help reach those final numbers too. Once the campaign is over, it’s really important to package your results up in a way that showcases impact. This is key to your award entry.

Judges are impressed when your results not only meet or exceed goals, but also when they create wider business impact. It’s a good idea to look beyond marketing metrics when analysing the campaign – for example, has it increased sales enquiries or store footfall? These can add an extra pinch of brilliance.

6. Package it well

Your campaign is over and it was a success – but how does that translate to an award entry? There is a certain art to writing them, but the key is to put yourself in the judges’ shoes. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the results link closely back to the objectives?
  • Is the campaign rooted in insight?
  • Is the campaign idea creative and unique?
  • Are the campaign tactics innovative and strategic?
  • Has the campaign made business impact?

Another tip is to keep your entry concise – word counts are tight, so every sentence needs to add value.

And there you have it – the recipe for an award-winning campaign! It’s a lot easier said than done, though. So, if you’re in need of an expert to create your next winning campaign, then look no further. Get in touch with us today.

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