Apples vs pears / creativity vs efficiency - judging at Hungarian and ICCO PR awards

In the last couple of days, I had the chance to judge entries for both a Hungarian and an international PR Award. And yes... I could not resist the temptation to share my experiences in some kind of social way. In the last couple of days, I had the chance to judge entries for both a Hungarian and an international PR Award. And yes... I could not resist the temptation to share my experiences in some kind of social way. 

Let’s start with the ICCO Global Awards 2016. Here I was a member of the panel that selected entries for the shortlist. (The winners will be selected soon by another jury.) So here we were given a set of pre-defined guidelines and asked to evaluate the entries and deliver the creative and most efficient ones up to the shortlist.

If I were to choose two buzzwords for these campaigns, I would say “engagement” and “good cause”. Most of the entries were not supporting mere sales activities – there was always some kind of “for-a-better-world” objective intertwined with the original aim of the campaign.

Regarding the strategies presented by the contestants, I would say that they were rather action plans than sharp-cut business strategies. It was not obvious either whether specific data-driven insights were taken into consideration by the participants. I had to realize again that we still don’t have exact and internationally acknowledged tools or standards to measure efficiency and success which is quite odd in the era of big data. I personally missed them.

By the way, this was the first time that a Hungarian judge was invited to this contest. I do hope it is a good sign... A sign that sooner or later there are going to be also Hungarian entries at ICCO Global Awards.

In the case of the Hungarian Kreatív Prizma, I was evaluating the shortlisted entries with my fellow judges and we also voted for the final winners to be announced in a couple of days.

It was refreshing to see that most of the participants had a clear-cut insight on their assignment. They were able to translate market information and client requirements into real campaign expectations– at least in my view. Some Hungarian entries also had a magic formula: “highly efficient with strikingly little money”. Just like the entries of ICCO Global Awards, Prizma contestants also aimed at integrating social media channels into their projects. However, the ultimate goal of most Hungarian projects was still to attract journalists and earn coverage.

I have seen another striking ambiguity here: while target groups were usually clearly identified in the preparatory phase of the project, it was rarely monitored whether – and to what extent – these target groups were reached and affected. In other words: precise targeting and vague measurement were characteristic of many Kreatív Prizma entries. It was also quite discouraging to see that „AVE-ing” is still a trend in Hungary and a few fellow members of the jury were not bothered by the fact.

All in all, what I see is that contestants of both the Hungarian and the international ICCO Award had a keen eye on social media activities and try to engage and not only to inform through the campaigns. Additionally, measurability is still a challenge for everyone and PR activities are still based on traditional insights. I would urge these areas to be developed in the future practice of public relations. Based on the impressive shortlist of this year’s Kreatív Prizma, I do believe that Hungarian PR projects would stand their ground in lots of international contests, as well. (And I would be really happy to take an active role in their promotion – which I am just doing right now.)

One last concern to share: I have seen many great and effective projects but sometimes I have doubts about the corporate background (lack of environmental sustainability, controversial ownership, etc.) of the given project. I believe these issues sometimes scratch the line of ethics and I don’t know how to tackle such situations adequately in a judging process.


Andras Sztaniszlav / MCIPR