The turn of a new year ushers in many possibilities: hope, resolutions, new routines and growth. For the communications industry, it also heralds the start of award season, including the prestigious 36th annual IABC/Toronto OVATION Awards.
For the past two years, I have looked forward to evaluating outstanding work from communications peers across the industry for IABC/Toronto’s OVATION Awards. This year’s award program is bound to be even better, as it has been reinvigorated to include three new categories that are aimed at celebrating the best work in diversity, equity and inclusion.
I originally signed up to be a judge a few years ago because I felt that a higher level of exposure – beyond the work that my agency and clients were doing – would help build and refine my own strategic planning chops.
And has it ever. I have been continuously impressed by work that I have seen from communications teams in-house and across agencies of all sizes. Be it for big, multinational brands; small not-for-profit outfits or any other organizations in between, the high level of strategy and execution demonstrated by the many campaigns that I’ve judged have stayed with me for a long time.
From my observation, each year, the award entries mirror the evolution of the communications function. In my first year of judging, most of the entries I judged were based almost entirely on media relations results. With time, traditional and social media measurement has become more sophisticated, brand reputation lifts are being factored into outcomes and multimedia assets are no longer outside scope for the PR function.
As a senior integrated communications practitioner, it is great to see this evolution in our industry. It is a testament to the growing level of understanding and trust of the role of communications profession among senior marketers and C-suite leaders.
Award season judges have the unique advantage of spotting new trends, rewarding outstanding work and then incorporating the new and innovative approaches into the work that we do every day. We also have the chance to help shape the future of our industry by providing valuable feedback to our young communicators.
After a rollercoaster year like 2020, this year’s judges will have the unique opportunity of learning how our fellow communicators adapted to the global pandemic, global events and shifting political landscapes.
But to be honest, what you get back in return – a solid boost of inspiration that you can then take back and share with your peers – is worth more than the investment of your personal time.
IABC/Toronto invites you to see what’s new, what’s changed and what’s going to stand out.
If you are a mid to senior level communications professional, I recommend putting your hand up and answering IABC/Toronto’s call for judges, at least once – you’ll be thankful you did!
You might just catch the judging bug too…
Rohini Mukherji (She/Her/Hers)
VP, Integrated Communications, APEX Public Relations
Seasoned IABC/Toronto OVATION Awards Judge
Marketing Chair, CPRS Foundation