The Public Relations Society of America honored the industry’s best work in June. Regarded as “the pre-eminent achievement of public relations – the highest watermark of success for any practitioner or organization,” the Silver Anvils, as the awards are called, “…recognize complete public relations programs incorporating measurable and sound research, planning, execution and evaluation.”silver-anvil

Our work for Keep America Beautiful, in partnership with Hill & Knowlton, an international public relations firm, didn’t win a single award: it won TWO.

The trip to success began in 2009 with an idea for a fresh new approach on litter prevention that we pitched to Keep America Beautiful with Hill & Knowlton. With a client keen on creating a fresh, creative litter-prevention campaign, and with Hill & Knowlton’s penchant for communications strategy, market research, consumer insights and top-notch management of the entire process, we presented three campaigns we were very proud of, and, frankly, we knew had a great shot at standing out not only in the marketplace, but in glitzy NYC ballrooms filled with statuettes.

We’re actually kind of sheepish about touting this success, lest we sound boastful. Rather, it’s a validation of the promise the team sold to Keep America Beautiful; that if they actually bought what they said they wanted (so many clients talk the talk, but, well, limp, crawl and sputter when it comes time to walking the walk), that we’d get through to consumers. We’d get them talking. We’d shake them out of complacency and actually invite a dialog with them, using all of the tools at our disposal in this Information Age. Keep America Beautiful fully embraced the idea and the premise and based on the successful pilot that earned the Silver Anvils, has now made the campaign available to all of its affiliates around the country.

We’re not really much for awards, in and of themselves. We’d much rather feed the campaigns we create to the marketplace, and earn our just rewards as they actually make an impact. But, when “senior practitioners judge each entry,” and deem no other more effective, it’s a great dialog starter of its own with current and future DMC clients to ‘put it out there;’ to ‘ask for, and buy a campaign that actually makes your palms sweat. One that you might have to answer a lot of internal questions about in selling it through. One that, lo and behold, you might actually even get a phone call or two from a citizen so concerned with how “creative” and different the campaign is. THAT’S the kind of work that moves needles. That’s what improves bottom lines, or stakeholder perceptions or decreases litter  (or fills a sales pipeline or compels donors to give). Gone are the days of you telling your audiences what you want to say. They seek out information now. You have to know them, well. You have to resonate with them. You have to matter.

The two Silver Anvils won by Keep America Beautiful are a testament to those facets of communications today. They’re a testament to confident marketers like Keep America Beautiful who take chances (because the alternative simply isn’t viable). Getting lost in the marketplace with safe, me-too messaging is rife with many more unsavory consequences than a few phone calls about your provocative new campaign. Go for it; it’s your job. Good things happen to marketers who take well-calculated chances.

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