It’s been several years since we entered the Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s PRide Awards. Previously, we’ve done very well in them – in 2009 we were awarded two silvers, in 2010 a gold, in 2011 two more silvers, and in 2012 another gold. Each of these awards was for a piece of work we were extremely proud of; work that demonstrated how, no matter what the restrictions be they budget, time, content - that with the right attitude and industry contacts you can achieve big results.
We chose to enter this year because the work we did with Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm during their Christmas Campaign 2016 was such a great advertisement for what a small public relations and marketing company can achieve. We entered two categories, ‘Best Low Budget Campaign’ and ‘Best Integrated Campaign’, but were really not sure how we would fair because, since we last entered the PRide Awards, the region has grown considerably and now covers the whole of the South of England and the Channel Islands.
Working with Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm is always a joy. Clive, Emma and Phil really understand the work they do, growing amazing Christmas Trees and creating a wonderful festive experience for shoppers. They have had their own successes at awards in recent years, winning ‘Best Small Business’ at the 2016 1066 Business Awards and Clive being named ‘Business Personality of the Year’ at both the 1066 awards and the prestigious JP South Business Awards.
Christmas Campaign 2016 had two main goals: to consolidate the previous year’s 20% growth and, secondly, add a further 5% in sales. In the end, both goals were achieved but that did not mean the campaign went without a hitch. Early in the campaign, their local AA road signs were stolen. This may not sound much but for a small business it could have been a disaster, especially when you consider their short selling season. The attitude and dedication of Clive and his team, however, meant we could turn the story into one of strength and positivity. The story was spread on social media, appeared in local press, and Clive appeared on ITV Meridian talking about the incident. What could have been a catastrophe for the business ended up helping the company gain more customers.
Our use of mixed media, all done on a restricted budget, and the success of the campaign, meant I thought it was time we entered the awards again and this explains why, on 17th November, I found myself onboard a train heading towards Bristol.
The event itself was a lovely occasion, once we had found our way to the reception room – we came in via the back door by accident! After a couple of glasses of Champagne, we were herded through to the ballroom for the main event. Held in the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, the event consisted of a drinks reception, followed by three-course meal and then it was time for the awards!
As I said, I didn’t think we’d win, especially since it has been several years since we’d entered. We were also up against some stellar competition, much of it from larger organizations or bigger campaigns. For example, in one category we competed against Bournemouth Council’s in-house PR department and in another against the television launch of the ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’ series for CBBC.
But still, we had our fingers crossed!
There are quite a few awards but luckily, since speeches were prohibited and master of ceremonies, Steve Knibbs, kept it moving along, it wasn’t long before our categories were called and, much to our surprise, we were awarded silver in the category for ‘Best Low Budget Campaign’. In fact, it was so much a surprise, we almost missed it!
I’m still smiling from the announcement. Considering we were up against larger organisations and the odds were stacked against us – 950 entries, 337 companies, 604 campaigns, and only 300 entries shortlisted across the various regional events – it is a real achievement to have walked away with any award.
You never know, we may well enter again next year!