Five Best Practices for Creating an Attention-Grabbing Silver Anvil Award Submission

By Jennifer Moritz

As most PR practitioners know, the PRSA Silver Anvils, which honor outstanding strategic public relations programs each year, is the country’s most competitive and prestigious PR awards program.

The PRSA judges review hundreds of entries each year in 19 different categories, to select the campaigns that they feel have most successfully addressed challenging issues with exemplary professional skill, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Zer0 to 5ive has won multiple Silver Anvil Awards over the years and was selected as a finalist this year for a campaign with our client NWEA. If you’re thinking of putting together a PRSA Silver Anvil Award entry for next year’s Anvils, here are our top five tips for creating a strong award entry that will “Wow” the PRSA judges:

Select your best, most strategic work

It may seem like common sense, but the PR campaign you decide to enter must meet or exceed the required criteria, representing your best work for the year. In addition to generating a ton of media coverage, your campaign should be unique and impactful, from strategic planning to execution. It’s critical that your campaign includes all four components outlined in the submission requirements – insights and analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation – with well-rounded work, facts, and results for each section. If you don’t have solid research and measurable results, your campaign is likely not a candidate for a Silver Anvil.

To help you get a better understanding of the caliber of campaigns submitted each year, you can read Silver Anvil case studies on the PRSA website, which can help guide your thinking as you prepare your submission.

Start early

This is particularly important, especially if it’s your first time submitting a Silver Anvil entry. I recommend starting eight weeks in advance of the deadline to ensure that you have enough time to compile everything you need. Read the entry requirements closely, for both the two-page summary and the supporting materials so that you are aware of page limits, font size requirements, submission format, and supplemental materials required. It is not unusual for a winning Silver Anvil submission to take upwards of 40 hours to complete – so be sure to put the proper time and resources into it.

Focus on the two-page summary

The two-page summary is the most important part of the submission. If you don’t grab the judges’ attention in those first two pages, your submission won’t make it past the initial review. Organize your two-page summary following their required categories – insights and analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation – to tell a compelling and cohesive story. Set clear measurable objectives and walk through the four key stages of the campaign, with a conclusion that clearly articulates how your key objectives were met. Avoid vague goals like “increase awareness” without including specifics on why, to whom, and by how much.

Your narrative must be succinct and clear. Use bullet points and eliminate unnecessary details. Last, but not least, give it a descriptive, impactful title that reflects the goals and success of the campaign.

Organize supporting documentation

As you compile and organize your supporting documentation for each of the four sections, be deliberate in what you choose to include. You need not include every little detail – only the best, most important resources that help support your narrative and outcomes. Organize and label supporting sections of your entry so that they are easy to follow and understand. I like to use page numbers and a table of contents at the beginning of each section that enables judges to jump right to resources they are most interested in. Use metrics, stats, and highlights to make key documents, coverage, or results stand out.

Have multiple reviewers

Last, but not least, make sure you have at least two other people – one colleague who has worked on the campaign with you, and one that has not – review your entry before you submit it. They should be checking for typos, grammar, inconsistent formatting, and writing clarity. Can they follow your story? Are the objectives and results clearly communicated? Be sure to also double-check your 100-word description and campaign graphics (both required with submissions) for errors as well. Leave yourself extra time to make sure there are absolutely no mistakes.

Once you submit, you can sit back, take a deep breath, and wait for the Silver Anvil finalist emails to go out in March.

Good luck to all of you who were named as finalists this year! We look forward to seeing you at the virtual event on June 10th.