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Pauline Draper-Watts

Judge’s Tips –
Pauline Draper-Watts
Long-standing PRSA Silver Anvil judge
Executive Vice President| Edelman Intelligence


Six tips for crafting an award-winning Silver Anvil entry

It is that time of year again, when we reflect on our best work and look to make our submissions to the Silver Anvils. Over the years, I have seen a mixed bag of entries. And while there is no magic formula for success, the stand out submissions tend to have a few things in common.

With that, here are my top six tips to consider before you hit submit:

Think like a judge and don’t assume they know anything about your entry

While you will be excited about your submission, this will be the first time it is being seen by a judge and it will be unfamiliar to them. Is it understandable to someone who knows nothing  about it? Have you set the scene? Is it compelling? Are you trying to say too much? Judges will be reading multiple entries, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them. Skip the jargon and overly complex language.

Read the entry guidelines and don’t ignore the fine print

Points are awarded for each section—insights and analysis, planning, execution and evaluation—so omitting or going light on any one of them will reduce your score. Give sufficient weight to each of the sections to ensure you cover all that is asked within the rules. Consider measurable objectives, the research methodologies, target audiences and how to best reach them, key tactics and challenges, the results, and how they tie back to the objectives. Then consider your supporting materials and match them to the four sections.

Write your submission so that it is an enjoyable read and make it pleasing to the eye

You want your entry to stand out, not only in terms of the quality of the work, but also in its flow and presentation. Likewise, provide the additional materials in an organized way so they are compelling and easy to follow.

Have someone proof your entry for comprehension, spelling and grammar

This should be obvious, but it is worth stating based on some of the submissions I have read over the years. It is very frustrating to read a submission with grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. We are in the business of communications and all entries should demonstrate that fact. Do not underestimate the importance of this point.

Ensure continuity

Make sure that your submission flows and that the additional material provides relevant context and content. Resist the temptation to include everything – we’re looking for supporting material that is valid and relevant rather than filler. I have seen research submitted that was positioned to inform the campaign within the submission, but was obviously conducted after the campaign! Judges will look at and discuss the details, especially before choosing a winner, so it is important to get it right.

Tell us why your submission is important

Do your results map back to the objectives? Increasingly, there is a greater focus on business impact rather than just impressions, messaging and other output oriented metrics. Linked with this is a more holistic, multifaceted approach to evaluation. For instance, tying the results to metrics that may exist elsewhere within the organization might help demonstrate the success of the activity.

Enjoy working on your submissions and good luck!

The two-page summary is the single most important component of the Silver Anvil entry. Judges evaluate the program on the merit of the four criteria — insights and analysis, planning, execution and evaluation — that you share in your two-page summary. Your entry should begin with a brief situation analysis for your program. Visit to view examples of past Silver Anvil-winning case studies.

Use the following questions to help you prepare a strong entry:

Insights And Analysis

  • What methods/strategies/tools were implemented to arrive at your insights into and analysis of the campaign?

  • What type of research did you use — primary, secondary or both, to arrive at your insights/analysis? Primary research involves original research, including focus groups, interviews, data and analytics software and surveys. Secondary research involves searching existing resources for information or data related to a particular need, strategy or goal (e.g., online computer database searches, Web-based research, library searches, industry reports and internal market analyses).


  • How did the plan correlate to the insights gathered at the end of the campaign?

  • What was the plan in general terms?

  • What were the specific, measurable objectives of the plan?

  • Who were the target audiences?

  • What was the overall strategy used?

  • What was your budget?


  • How was the plan executed, and what was the outcome?

  • How did the activities flow in general terms?

  • What were the key tactics?

  • Were there any difficulties encountered? If so, how were they handled?

  • Were other organizations involved?

  • Were nontraditional public relations tactics used, such as advertising? (Unless you are entering this program under “Integrated Communications,” advertising costs should not exceed one-third of the budget.)


  • What methods of evaluation were used?

  • What were your results?

  • How did the results compare to the specific, measurable objectives you identified in the planning section?

  • How well do the results reflect original strategy and planning?

Definitions Used In Categories and Subcategories

Use the following definitions to help you decide the most appropriate category and subcategory based on your program’s objectives and audiences.

“Business — Products” and “Business — Services”

These subcategories include all profit-making entities. A company that derives half or more of its sales from manufacturing products should enter under “Products.” A company that derives half or more of its revenues by providing services, such as banks, utilities, retailers and transportation companies, should enter under “Services.”


This subcategory includes all government bureaus, agencies, institutions or departments at the local, state and federal levels, including the armed forces, regulatory bodies, courts, public schools and state universities.


This subcategory includes trade and industry groups, professional societies, chambers of commerce and similar organizations.


This subcategory is specifically intended for health and welfare organizations, as well as educational and cultural institutions not included in other subcategories. It is not intended for organizations that may have nonprofit status but are clearly business organizations. Programs receiving funding or support from private or government organizations should be entered in those subcategories or “Partnerships.”


This subcategory is intended for public service programs that are funded jointly by businesses and other organizations, including nonprofit or government.

Packaged Goods

This subcategory refers to traditional consumer products sold in packages, such as food products, pet products, household goods, toiletries and cosmetics.

Non-Packaged Goods

This subcategory refers to consumer products, such as clothing, appliances and furniture.