Autumn Awards: Big Guns v Lancashire Roses

Jane Hunt, MD of Catapult PR, in Guns N'Roses T-shirt, describing her agency's efforts to prove that Lancashire Roses can offer as much or more than big gun PR agencies

September 23rd, 2023

Autumn Awards: Big Guns v Lancashire Roses

As we head into Autumn, Catapult PR has the opportunity to add to the 60 PR, marketing and travel marketing awards already in its trophy cabinet. In total, we have another 9 awards nominations in the offing, with 3 at the Prolific North Marketing Awards and another 6 at the NW CIPR PRide Awards.

First to be determined, in mid-October, will be the Prolific North Marketing Awards, in which we are shortlisted for Best PR Campaign, Best Small Budget Campaign, and Best Tourism and Leisure Campaign. Having won the PR Campaign award for the past three years in a row, I doubt we can make it 4 consecutive wins, despite having a phenomenal travel, leisure and culture PR campaign that has generated an astounding return on investment.

At the NW CIPR Awards, to be staged in later November, we are shortlisted for Corporate & Business Communications Campaign, Arts, Culture & Sport Campaign, Best Use of Media Relations, Best Long-term PR Campaign, Best Use of Content and Best Independent Practitioner.

Tourism PR and insurance PR expertise

What is rewarding here, is that these awards recognise our outstanding work in two very different sectors – tourism and culture and insurance PR and content. They are also for clients in two different counties – Cumbria and Yorkshire. Where are the Lancashire campaigns, you ask? Probably in the hands of East Lancs or Manchester agencies, rather than in the stable of the serial winners at Catapult PR.

What I would say about our award prospects is that the competition gets tougher with every passing year, with bigger agencies and bigger budgets up against our micro-agency resource and very modest budgetary spend. It’s very much big guns versus our Lancashire-concocted roses – our cleverly crafted PR and content campaigns. How we can keep winning awards, when so little regard is paid to the budget available, is debatable.

What is the point of PR awards?

So why bother? The answer lies in benchmarking. Few clients can actually really believe what we could achieve for them, when we pitch our services. Too many are seduced by the ‘city agency’ proposition, seemingly thinking that great ideas can only be created within urban landscapes. It’s incredible how many choose to spend way over the odds for their PR or content support and the decision-making when it comes to appointing agencies almost shouts ‘lunacy’ at times, with so little probing to discover whether an agency has any expertise within a sector at all and little or no recognition that you are more than likely to get the office junior handling your account, if you choose a bigger agency.

Only by showing that we not only compete on the same playing field but achieve more than these other agencies, as endorsed independently by PR and marketing awards judges, can we definitively prove that what we say is true.

It’s rarely enough on its own, however. Most of our clients are with us because another client provided an introduction and recommendation. That says it all.

How to choose the right PR agency

Of course, a Catapult PR client has to be willing to listen, embrace our suggestions and let us run with concepts that may seem a little ‘out there’ at times. We are confident that these will work but we need to carry the client with us. Our successful clients are those that adopt this way of working with us and trust our judgement. Those who just want to do what they have always done, will typically get the same level of results that they’ve always had. Having seen what many clients will put up with, that is often very little.

Yet, it’s amazing how many businesses put up with mediocrity and little or no return on investment in PR and marketing. It’s almost as if they can’t believe that more can be achieved.

There’s also far too much cosiness with the agency down the road that’s always done it this way and only ever achieved this level of impact. It’s actually quite depressing to see how dull and uninspiring many PR campaigns are and how much money is wasted by businesses that deserve so much more. As upsetting for me, on many occasions, are those instances where clients actually have a gem to promote and then place the custody of that jewel in the hands of an agency that is totally incapable of generating the exposure it should enjoy. Once the opportunity has been wasted, it has been wasted.

What skills do we bring to PR?

Similarly, the more I delve into what others do, the more I also discover how many so-called PRs can’t use punctuation, can’t spell and have no idea of grammatical structures whatsoever. Had I produced the sort of copy that I get to see, I would have been out on my ear within weeks, when employed in-house. What, I have to ask, has happened to industry standards?

On the other hand, I also find that those from a journalistic background lack the creativity that PR requires and are not willing to push boundaries. Too often spoon-fed stories and news whilst in journalistic roles, they often cannot generate these from scratch when crossing the fence into the world of PR. They simply focus on the obvious, or adopt run-of-the-mill type stories that are trotted out by so many agencies and which are truly yawn-worthy. (And don’t get me started on all those who resort to the ’most Instagrammable’ this, that or the other. I’ve seen everything from castles to railway stations and historic homes under this hackneyed storyline. Nothing like a bandwagon to jump on, when you have no other ideas in your head!)

Will businesses suddenly see the light in 2024 and make better PR and content agency choices? It’s debatable but we will continue to spread the gospel of effective and results-orientated PR, content and marketing. One can but try and, perhaps, if we can secure a few more awards and continue to highlight how we probably have more accolades than any other regional PR agency in the entire country, we may get some astute clients to listen.

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