2 Silver Anvil Judges on Creating Award-Winning Entries

August 1, 2019

Silver Anvil Judging 2019 [prsa]
Silver Anvil Judging 2019 [prsa]

“And the Silver Anvil winner is …” We all know the nearly breathless anxiety of hearing those words. One team will experience exuberance while the others will come away feeling proud of being finalists in the country’s most competitive and prestigious PR awards program.

As PRSA has now presented its 2019 Anvils, we asked two judges from the Counselors Academy to share insights for developing great entries. Jennifer Brantley is a partner with MP&F Strategic Communications in Nashville, Tenn and a 2018 Best-of Silver Anvil recipient. Keith Green is a veteran PR and marketing pro, and founder and executive director of the Autism MVP Foundation in Little Silver, N.J.


What stood out to you about this year’s entries?

Brantley: They showed how our industry is evolving. We’re finding new and interesting ways to reach audiences that go beyond traditional PR tactics. Most, if not all, of the entries I reviewed included an owned-media strategy, as well as advertising and marketing initiatives.


What are your top two tips for creating great Silver Anvil entries?

JB: First, read the entry requirements closely. If you don’t have solid research and measurable results, the entry will not win an award. I reviewed several entries that had great planning and execution, but the entries lacked explanations of the research that had gone into the projects and how the success of the campaigns had been measured. Second, since you have limited space to tell judges about your campaign, I recommend using bullet points. They help break up the text and make it easier for judges to read.

Green: My No. 1 tip is to have at least two sets of experienced eyes Anvil entries, but with other awards programs I have judged, too. If read your entry, and don’t wait until the last minute. It was apparent that some of the entries had been rushed; this led to obvious, sloppy mistakes, which was a shame. This is not just a problem with Silver winning an award is important to your company or agency, then put the proper time and resources into it.


How have you benefited professionally from being Silver Anvil judges?

KG: Meeting new people and networking are terrific parts of the experience. I also enjoy hearing how the other judges think and their different points of view about the entries. As a group we changed direction on a couple of different occasions because of an important point that someone had raised. Being a Silver Anvil judge is a great learning and networking experience all the way around.

JB: The more awards that you judge, the better you become at writing entries. It’s easy to get bogged down in a campaign’s details, but writing an entry from a judge’s perspective helps you eliminate unnecessary details. It’s also a great opportunity to see what other PR professionals are doing for their clients. You can learn from their successes and bring best practices back to your own clients.


Excellent tips from inside the room. The deadline for the 2020 Silver Anvil Awards will be in February 2020, but it’s never too early to put these tips into practice. 

Brenda Jones Barwick, APR

Brenda Jones Barwick, APR, is president and CEO of Jones PR in Oklahoma City and serves on the Counselors Academy executive committee.

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