Last week, my great state celebrated its annual version of the Silver Anvil PRSA Awards–the Minnesota Classics. It’s a great event–I’ve been many times over the years. In fact, it’s widely regarded as THE PR industry event of the year. Not only do you have the opportunity to watch as colleagues are recognized for their outstanding work, it’s the one evening a year when the industry comes together. I see people at Classics I really don’t see all year long.
It’s a fantastic program and event.
Except for one thing: I think it could be even better.
I say this at the risk of being labeled a “contrarian”. But really, nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve been a PRSA member for 10-plus years up until just recently (and I may rejoin yet this year–the organization has done a few things in the last year that are making it more relevant again). I’ve sat on and chaired many committees. I’ve been on the board for three years (stepped off on my own volition a few years ago when I started my business). I’ve earned the right to share a few ideas.
But the fact remains: The Minnesota Classics event needs to get better. It’s too great of a program/event not to.
I also don’t mean this to be a criticism of all the great volunteers who donate HUNDREDS of hours to put on this event. I know people on that committee now–I’ve known people who have been on it in the past. It’s a great program/event. My suggestions are in no way a criticism of these folks–or the board, for that matter.
And keep in mind, I really like a few of the new ideas they’ve implemented in recent years. Namely the “Young Professional of the Year” award–great way to recognize tomorrow’s PR leaders (congrats to Christina Milanowski, by the way!).
These are merely ideas–meant to help a program/event I believe needs a little shake up.
So, here are 5 ideas to make the Minnesota Classics program/event even better:
This has been an issue for years, so it’s not necessarily new. But there are simply WAY too many categories. 40-plus in total. In fact, many years, a number of categories go either unfulfilled or with only a handful (or one) entry (who then wins by default–is that any way to win a Classics Award?). I say pare the awards down to 15-20 really solid categories and showcase the best of the best. The awards will be more meaningful–and MN PRSA will truly be highlighting the best Minnesota PR has to offer.
More digital marketing categories
I know, I just said to limit the categories. But, MN PRSA needs to beef up the digital piece of our awards just a bit. I mean, with all the focus on social/digital, it just makes sense doesn’t it? Now, I fully recognize that social/digital is just a piece of a successful PR program, but right now MN PRSA only has ONE element category around social/digital. With how much focus is put on digital/social these days, that simply does not make sense to me.
Opportunities for solo practitioners
I’ll admit, this one’s a bit selfish now that I’m a solo counselor. But the fact remains there is no attempt to give solo counselors any spotlight in the Classics. And, I thought that even before I started working for myself. We have so many great solos in this town–David Kostik, Peg Roessler, Melanie Boulay Becker, just to name a few. It’s a shame not to recognize some of their great work, too. Maybe it’s a Solo Counselor of the Year award. Maybe it’s a category just for a solo program. I just think there needs to be at least some semblance of recognition for solo counselors since we’re such a big part of the fabric of our industry locally.
Simplify the submission process
Wait, we’re still submitting BINDERS? Yep. It’s 2013, and we’re still submitting hard copy binders as awards entries. That in itself dates MN PRSA a bit. But, the truth is the submission process is just too laborious. Agency teams have entire teams dedicated to putting together Classics entires–and I’m sure long hours are put in. Now, that could be seen as a positive–making the submission process tougher weeds out the undesirables. But, it also limits participation. I’m sure many folks are put off by the time-consuming process–I know it limits the opportunities for smaller shops and solos (having worked in both scenarios recently). Make the process easier. Make it a simple one-pager you can upload electronically along with supporting documents. Get rid of the binders. It’s time.
PR Year in Review
So this one might seem like a stretch, but I think folks would love it. Create a “Minnesota PR Year in Review” slideshow and run it during some part of the event (maybe somewhere in the middle of the awards when things start to lull). Ask agencies for photos of their biggest events from the past year. Ask members for photos of their successful events and programs. Feature photos from PRSA events throughout the year. And set it all to music. It doesn’t have to be too long–5-8 minutes probably. And maybe they’ve done this before–I haven’t been to all that many Classics events. But, I think this would be pretty cool.
So, those are my ideas. Again, I want to be clear that these are not criticisms of the committee, the board or MN PRSA in general–just ideas to improve.
What about you? If you work in PR in Minnesota, what could we do to freshen up the Classics?
Note: Photo courtesy of Minnesota PRSA.