#TBT – 2015 Douglas Smith Award

As today is throwback Thursday, I thought I’d indulge in a little reminiscing.

This week the 2016 Douglas Smith Student Award was launched by CIPR International.  Although I’ve already written a post about winning last year’s award, and one on the entry itself, I haven’t really written about what I learned from the award.  So for this week, I thought I would write a brief post with advice to help out anyone considering entering this year:

  1. Trust your instincts – last year I entered as a team with Hannah and Arianne. We decided straight away to enter together and didn’t have any doubts that it wouldn’t work, but if someone wants to work with you and you’d rather go it alone then go for it.
  2. Do your research – we must have spent the equivalent of around 200 hours conducting primary and secondary research for our campaign, and still managed to miss pieces out.  Make sure that solid research forms the base of your tactics.
  3. Remember that this is an international campaign – we were used to planning local level campaigns and thinking strategically on an international level took some getting used to.
  4. Presentation is everything – think carefully about how you want to present your campaign, last year we had a limit of 1500 words which was really hard to stick to.  That’s why we chose a brochure format, so that we could make use of lots of pictures (and make it look pretty).
  5. Pace yourself – April seems like a long time away, but it will roll around faster than you think.  We found it helpful to schedule our meetings into our timetables so that we could keep on top of the extra workload.  This also helped us to set manageable goals and timelines.

So there you have it, my top 5 tips for any students who want to enter for this year. However, I would also issue a friendly warning.  It is a lot of work, so make sure that you have time to do it and aren’t overstretching yourself.  I have a tendency to take on too much and even though I would love to enter this year, I don’t think I would be able to do so without having a breakdown.

That being said it looks excellent in your portfolio and is definitely worthwhile for improving your strategic planning skills.

Good luck!

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2015 Winners of CIPR International’s Douglas Smith Student Award

This summer has been full of surprises, and it’s with great excitement and much squealing that I can announce that my team has officially won CIPR International’s 2015 Douglas Smith Student Award (eeeeeeeek).

HannahArianne and myself are thrilled that our entry was considered and in such a prestigious competition, were shocked that it was unanimously voted the best.

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Here's a photo of my trophy. Just because.

The competition involved creating an international PR campaign either for or against an interactive contact lens (similar to Google Glass), and you could submit your entry alone or as part of a team.

I’ve worked with Arianne and Hannah in a team before and found that we work well together, having similar ideas and ways of working.  It made sense for us to team up to make our chances better, especially in an international award where the competition would be fierce.

Although I would like to show you all the winning entry, because we’ve very proud of the work we’ve created, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how important achievements like this are for students.

For anyone that works in or has studied Public Relations, you will know what a competitive sector it is.  Not only do you have to have the industry experience and knowledge, but go above and beyond anything that you have been taught.  Similar to any degree, future PR employers are looking for students that go the extra mile and demonstrate a willingness to commit to extra-curricular activities.

This is why competitions like the Douglas Smith Student Award are so important.  As well as demonstrating your enthusiasm for the profession and getting yourself noticed by the right people, they help you to challenge yourself creatively and strategically.

As well as getting to spend the whole day with Eva Maclaine, chair of CIPR International, we got to meet the lovely team at Press Ahead. I would like to thank Eva and Sally for being so accommodating and helpful, we heard some great stories about their experiences working in PR and their advice and guidance will be invaluable.

After our meeting we travelled to Newcastle for the launch of Northern Insight magazine and the presentation of our trophies. We had an amazing night and it was good to celebrate our success and connect with other people in the industry, such as the lovely Sarah Hall.

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Sarah Hall, Eva Maclaine, Hannah Lennox, Me and Arianne Williams

If you’re a PR student I would encourage you to enter next year.  Even if you don’t win, an entry will look impressive in your portfolio and it’s a fantastic way to meet new people and learn new things.

I would like to officially thank the volunteers at CIPR International for organising this award and putting their faith in the next generation of PR practitioners.

After a great night celebrating our success I better leave it at that, but watch this space for another post about our entry and how we developed our winning campaign!