Last week I found out I’ve been shortlisted as “PR Personality of the Year” at an upcoming awards event.
The call went something like this:
“Hi Nina, I’m **** from **** and I’ve got amazing news! You’ve been shortlisted as Manchester’s PR Personality of the Year!”
Now, as grateful as I am to be recognised, there were three major problems with this ‘amazing’ news:
1. I’m not a personality.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m humbled someone on the organiser panel thought of me, but to be shortlisted as a ‘personality’ is, frankly, slightly insulting.
I’ve worked hard to make my business what it is today. I’m not a personality, or someone who just wants to be seen, I’m a business owner. And I’d rather be known for my expertise and advice than whether I attend the right parties, am seen at the right restaurants or mingle with the right people.
“Businesswoman” I can just about take (just), but personality makes me sound like a tool.
Side note – When the other categories in the awards are ‘Manager of the Year” or “Firm of the Year”, the choice of name for this category once again dumbs down our industry, which is in fact one of, if not the, most important element of marketing strategy.
2. I didn’t ever enter this.
“But I didn’t enter this award? Why am I on the shortlist?”
“Someone nominated you as a personality. We can’t tell you who, but it’s great to be shortlisted!”
“Oh, so you put me on the list?”
“Pardon? Anyway the awards event is in Autumn, I’ll email you the details of how to book a table. The tickets will sell fast so make sure you buy your table quickly.”
Now I’m VERY picky about the awards I enter for my business. Awards for me aren’t a numbers game. I enter ones that reflect well on the years of hard work and effort I’ve put into the business, not to get another trophy, have a night out or to show off.
I enter awards for acknowledgement on the campaigns I’ve worked on, and to give grounding and credibility to future clients that my agency is respected in the industry. I also make sure to only enter awards that I agree with, or which suit my values, and where the organisers are respected – in my eyes as well as the industry’s.
This is why I don’t enter the PRCA awards, why I chose not to research these ones, and why I was so surprised to get a call saying my name was already on the website without my permission.
3. It’s a public vote
“Who’s judging this?”
“It’s a public vote Nina – all you need to do is push the fact you’ve been shortlisted through your social media channels. You’ve got until August so keep promoting it to be in with a chance!”
Now to me, any awards programme where a public vote is the end decider holds a certain kind of value. And not a very good one.
Let’s say for a minute I was awful at my job but had the most friends, I’d still win. New clients would think I’m great, the business community (who didn’t research the award) would applaud me and competitors would feel unnecessarily anxious.
Even though I was shit, it didn’t matter, because I was popular…
It doesn’t make sense. Luckily I’m not awful, but that defeats the point.
In my opinion, awards should reflect the business performance or person at the helm, not their social circle.
Awarding something based on popularity rather than talent, innovation or expertise is not only asking for trouble but is, typically, always wrong. (Reference: Mrs Brown’s Boys winning Best Comedy 2014, 2015 and 2016 at the publicly voted National Television Awards)
“Okay Nina, I’ll send you the booking details now so you can buy that table! Remember they will sell out fast so remember to do it this week. See you there!”
I ended the call feeling quite despondent.
I didn’t ask to be in these awards, I don’t want to be in these awards, but to even say those two phrases makes me seem overwhelmingly ungrateful.
To make an important point, I am incredibly humbled to have been welcomed into the PR community, and that my business has performed well in Manchester despite the economic climate and my relative newcomer status to the city. I also wish everyone shortlisted the best of luck, and have massive respect for the organisers (putting on events is hard!)
But I built my agency to do things differently and to stand by my opinion on improving the industry.
And so, if the organisers really knew me, they’d know the only way to stay true to my personality is to withdraw myself.
Now, does anyone want my table?