If the result of the Presidential election achieved nothing else, it illustrated the power and influence PR has on the world stage.

Donald Trump’s use of his social channels and its subsequent influence on the electorate and media was an important contributing factor to his success. Whilst social media amplified Trump’s ideas, it also recruited voters and prompted discussion around his policies, which was not only powerful, it was highly cost effective in a campaign that ran into a reported $795 million.

Notably, Jeb Bush spent more than $80 million dollars on media advertising during the Republican primaries, dwarfing Trump’s $10 million, however, the New York Times reported that Trump gained an estimated $2 billion in free media coverage. His speeches, for better or worse, were brutally candid, resulting in an unprecedented amount of column inches in traditional media debate, meanwhile, his online presence was unlike anything previously witnessed.

Like it or not, this is where Trump and his team deserve commendation. Not only did they boost political engagement and shed light on underlying tensions within American society, their implementation of social media as a political tool was ground-breaking. Twitter, for example, has typically been used politically to push campaign messaging rather than for engagement. Trump harnessed the power of both landing messaging and engaging with his audiences, by instigating and reacting to the news with his own unabashed, unfiltered opinion.

It was this consistently brash, uncompromising attitude that created worldwide headlines and endeared Trump to the sort of voters for whom political correctness had been a cause of alienation. By being steady in this approach Trump was positioned as if not honest, then certainly transparent; with his outlandish, inappropriate and spontaneous content gaining him notoriety. Conversely Clinton’s carefully managed posts were felt to compounded feelings of secrecy and distrust.

Alongside the rise of ‘personality politics’ has been the higher rise of political PR; charisma and image almost equate with policy for many voters. The balance of PR’s role is tricky, the presence of a public relations team can promote disenchantment amongst the electorate, despite being employed to do the opposite. That said, an invisible PR vehicle is still one of the most important facets of a political campaign and, whether you agree with the outcome or not, this is where the new President and his team came up Trumps!

 

I'll Be Happiest About Women In Sport Week When We Don't Need It Anymore

This article first appeared in Huffington Post
 
Don’t get me wrong, I love Women in Sport Week – I should, I was one of the people who devised the idea. The thing that would make me happiest is when someone in the industry moots the point that isn’t it a bit…. err…. old fashioned. Redundant. Quaint. Unnecessary? That would mean our work was done.
 
The worst bit about ‘women in’ initiatives, in any sector, is that females should be such an inherent part of it that it seems odd to differentiate us purely based on gender.  Having worked in media and publishing as well as sports and technology, I can honestly say that – despite a markedly lower number of women in the latter sectors – levels of inherent sexism are on par. Football is no worse than rugby, rugby is no worse than newspapers, newspapers are no better than tennis and tennis is no different from technology. In short, in every industry the enlightened walk the same corridors as the sexists and you can’t spot the difference just by looking at their shoes.
 
After two decades in sport, people still question what it is like being in a ‘man’s world’. This never fails to surprise me as I tend to think of people as being talented, likeable or efficient (or not) rather than whether they are male or female first and those qualities second. Seemingly not everyone does this but since that places them in the group titled ‘idiots’, in my world they get put to one side so their relevance is diminished. I am lucky, I have this luxury, young women trying to get into the sector do not. That is why Women in Sport Week is so important.
 
Let’s hope that it isn’t just women who embrace this week. The whole ‘He for She’ concept was raised in Emma Watson’s UN address and, whilst it struck a chord, the institutional change it affected is questionable. That’s why equality initiatives need to challenge their sectors with meaningful targets. In sport this could be more broadcast hours of women’s sport or a percentage increase of female board members or coaches. One year later a huge fuss should be made when these ambitions were - or weren’t - realized. 
 
Having grown up in a culture of ‘if you are good enough, you are the right gender enough’, I now believe this isn’t the answer to more women progressing at work. McKinsey’s report into the subject clearly shows that quotas are needed to achieve gender parity. Again, it comes to setting targets, getting buy-in from stakeholders and then feeling collective discomfort if these targets are missed. ‘Collective discomfort’ is the key point here – having a 30 second conversation and saying ‘sorry’ whist squirming a bit simply isn’t good enough. The bigger the entity, the more external force should be applied to ensure they are right thinking and behaving. If that means government sanctions, it’s a pity but so be it.
 
Both my current companies, ENS Sports PR and The Sports Technology Awards, operate in areas widely seen as the preserve of men. At the risk of sounding most unsisterly, I believe change extends to women’s attitudes - bear with me. For last year’s awards we endeavored to secure as many women judges as men; our failure was abject. There are c.30 judges on the awards panel and more than 20 women were invited to join it; four agreed. The ones who declined largely did so because they either felt they had insufficient time or didn’t know enough about technology to warrant their place. Conversely, not one man asked said no. Surely they are as pressed for time and largely enjoy the same degree of industry knowledge as their female counterparts?
 
Undeterred we are still on a mission to secure 15+ women onto this year’s judging panel and are making a much better fist of it. All will be revealed when we announce the judging panel on 15th November at www.sportstechnologyawards.com. We have also created new elements to the 2017 awards, a Sports Technology Power List and the search to find the Sports Tech Young Exec – who knows, maybe we will be pleasantly surprised by the gender split of both? More heartening still is if one of this year’s Young Execs find that ‘Women in…’ initiatives are redundant within their working lifetime. Fingers crossed.
 

The chat at Sports Technology Awards’ Towers yesterday took an interesting turn; we were discussing the timeframe we should impose on innovative tech. In reviewing the relative merits of offering people 12, 18 or 24+ months, someone made the point that just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is actually any better than what went before. 

We’ve all seen the ‘new and improved’ claims splashed all over a variety of household goods but start to apply the same process to the sports sector and it does make you think.

The most immediately obvious example of this is F1; over past seasons a variety of teams have been subject to technical rules not to make the cars they are designing better per se but to ‘improve’ viewing of races.

Another example is in football. Anyone who played 10 years ago will remember what it was like to hoof a ball and you knew when you had connected with the sweet spot. The flight of the ball stayed true to contact and only the those who possessed immense ability would be able to curl the ball with aplomb. Today’s balls have been designed with a larger sweet spot and made from lighter synthetic materials, enabling greater degree of spin and additional flight which will ultimately end up with more goals per game. Undoubtedly this is innovative, is it better, well presumably yes it is. There may be a few moans and groans from the men between the sticks, however football is about entertaining spectators and as in F1, an enhanced viewing experience comes when there are high scoring matches.

A third example can be found in skiing. The evolution of skis is such that it has made a difficult sport much more accessible to a far greater number of people - as anyone who has queued for a lift during half term or spring break can testify. However these changes have created a leisure industry valued at $3.4bn in the US alone.

It is always easy to knock custodians of elite sport but, ultimately, they usually are exceptionally passionate about the sports in their care. They want their sport to be as accessible to as many people as possible but here’s the rub, only true purists value excellence to the exclusion of competition, most of us prefer an unpredictable battle. For any doubters, think of the way Steve ‘Interesting’ Davies was decried for being ‘boring’ when he was actually virtually unbeatable during the 1980s – and there are countless other examples which fans of different sports can cite.

With this in mind are Governing bodies which see a way to artificially level the playing field for the wider good of the sport wrong to do so? Surely challenging sport to be more innovative to ensure its longevity is innovative in itself?

As Team GB’s medalists return to Britain, some will go back to business as usual whilst others will be hoping to capitalize on their success, build a bigger personal brand and reap all the benefits that comes with it.

For some time now, the term ‘brand’ has been successfully applied to athletes as well as the clubs they play for or the sponsors which support them. Brand Beckham was probably the first of the modern era – thanks in no small part to Victoria - since which time athletes from all areas of sport have vying to ‘do a Beckham’.

So what does this mean for our medal winners? Unfortunately, it is a universal truth that in any team – football, rugby, cricket, and now Team GB – there are usually three or four people who stand out and the rest are … well, exactly that. Not convinced? Take England’s last two World Cup wins; in the 2003 rugby team, most people remember Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson but would be hard pushed to name a third. Matt Dawson or Ben Cohen may make the cut owing to their TV or tabloid profiles but few people, beyond hard-core rugby fans could name the others from that great night in Sydney. The intervening period since 1966 makes this test trickier but could many list more legends than Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks? Even if that doesn’t convince you, name a cricketer from Michael Vaughan’s 2005 Ashes’ team apart from the captain, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff. On top of this, all these sports have major annual clashes, long seasons and good broadcast deals which keep them in front of the public; most Olympic sports dream of enjoying the same exposure.

So with Team GB arriving back, who are the winners and losers? Without a doubt Laura Trott has the world at her feet; she already enjoys several lucrative brand partnerships and with the prospect of good times in Tokyo, she can build on her medal haul and her bank balance. If she can persuade her partner, the equally stellar Jason Kenny, to take a cannier commercial stance, their rewards could be exceptional – especially as the popularity of cycling continues to escalate. Realistically Trott and Kenny have eclipsed everyone else in the cycling team and whilst highly marketable riders, such as Becky James and Callum Skinner, will doubtless do well, their rewards won’t be anywhere near that of these two.

Another two athletes who look set for greater things are Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock, not least because they enjoy an impressive blend of charm, looks, eloquence and admirable achievement. For most Brits, interest in swimming and gymnastics is a four-year thing so they will have to balance media and endorsements with competition to keep their brands relevant but if they continue on their current trajectory, they too could do very well.

The other star likely to have been born in Rio but who will have to wait for their brand to mature is Joe Joyce; whilst he ‘only’ achieved silver, if he turns pro – and why wouldn’t he – he can look forward to some very exciting times ahead. His self-assigned brand strapline ‘He’s no ordinary Joe’ could certainly catch on.

Many stars from London 2012, including Tom Daley, Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford have probably reached their pinnacle in terms of their brand, not least of all because their stock was so high four years ago that they couldn’t realistically get any higher. The chances are they will score a TV job on a reality series or presenting sport but it is hard to see what else they can do to capitalize on their profiles, especially for any who retire. Probably included in this group, surprisingly – and frustratingly - are Mo Farah and Nicola Adams; despite having a phenomenal time in Rio the biggest thing holding them back is that their sports simply don’t enjoy mass appeal outside the Games.

In many respects, the brand that is set to do best from Rio is the Team GB brand itself. Having hugely exceeded both its medal target and made the unprecedented step of beating China in the final medal tally, the brand has never been better positioned to eclipse any individual competitor who sits within it. The Team GB sponsors, which include Adidas, Aldi, BP, DFS and Nissan, can consider themselves very well served by their deals and, if they haven’t already renewed, would do well to see what the plans are for Pyeongchang and Tokyo. Team GB’s management has already proved itself successful and forward thinking off the field as well as on it, the popular Stella McCartney designed kit being an obvious example of this. If it continues in this vein, of all Rio alumni, Team GB could well be the one to watch.

 
Keeping football out of the limelight doesn’t happen too often and even during sports showpiece event, the Olympics, the first £100million footballer has managed to dominate the back pages today. This particular transfer saga has gone on for most of the summer and finally last night, the ‘will he, won’t he’ question was finally answered as adidas revealed his move to Manchester United. 
 
The fact that one of Pogba’s sponsors, albeit one that pays a reported £31 million for the sponsorship, announced the deal ahead of Manchester United, is a window into how much this deal is driven by the commercial elements as it is the on-pitch. 
 
While there is no denying or arguing that Pogba is an exceptional talent with untold potential, many are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the price tag. £100 million on a 23-year-old who has not yet hit the heights of some of the previous players to be crowned the ‘most expensive footballer of all time’ does seem questionable. 
 
‘For that sort of money you want someone who will score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi. Pogba is nowhere near there yet’ were the words of former United playmaker Paul Scholes.
 
Although it is hard to argue with the words of Scholes, when looking at the inflated rates players are being sold for in recent years, it’s easier to make sense of the huge price tag on a player such as Pogba. So what are Manchester United getting for their money?
 
As an investment, Paul Pogba is worth so much more than the potential he shows on pitch. In today’s world of football, where brand value is more relevant than ever, Pogba’s marketability and popularity means he is a money making machine. It has been reported that in his first season alone at United, Pogba could generate as much as £40million in commercial revenue for the club. 
 
He is the type of player that transcends youth culture and with it football. Pogba is more than just a football player, he is a global superstar who is one of adidas’ most valuable assets. As the grime artist Stormzy unofficially announced Pogba’s arrival in a video by adidas on twitter, it demonstrated that the demands of sponsors and social media holds much more sway over how and when these transfers are announced.
 
The purists will wince at the suggestion but is this a step closer to an era where players will only move between the clubs of their sponsors? Was there a clause in the £31 million deal with adidas that prohibited him from moving to a fierce competitor, such as Barcelona? 
 
The commercialisation of football is nothing new but as the sums of transfer and sponsorship deals continue to rise, the pressure to provide more than just a player will subsequently increase. When Brian Clough turned up to the Nottingham Forrest training ground in a bright red sports jacket, squash racket in his hand to oversee the minor business formality of Trevor Francis becoming the first million-pound player, there were certainly no grime artists in sight. 
 

The long-awaited Pokémon GO app was released yesterday in the UK and has already taken the nation by storm. Social media blew up with pictures of people catching Pokémon in the wild streets of (in our case) London and cities around the world.

Impressively, the game has already overtaken instant messaging giant; WhatsApp, as the most-used app in the world with people spending roughly 43 minutes per day on the game, compared to the 30 minutes that kept Whatsapp at the top/

The hype around Pokémon GO is largely fuelled by millennials who grew up with Pokémon throughout their childhood – it is not so much children playing the game, as one would expect, but young adults in their early to late twenties. This is what makes the augmented reality game so beneficial to brands and businesses alike; the people playing the game are more likely to engage directly with your brand or business, rather than having to target them through a third party.

So what is the best way to capitalise on the popularity of Pokémon GO? Here at ENS, we spent the majority of our evening ‘researching’ the game and all of its many features:

Pokémon Teams

Here is where the teams come in useful – as a brand, pick a team and declare your allegiance to them. Not only will it start conversations with potential customers, it also offers you the chance to make exclusive deals and offers to people on the same team. You don’t necessarily have to be near a Pokémon Gym to take advantage of this but it helps when people actively seek out those locations to battle at.

Pokémon Lures

Another huge benefit for brands and businesses are Pokémon lures (these are called Incense in your inventory) which essentially just attract Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes.

It's already making the rounds on Twitter with businesses offering the lure as an incentive for anyone that visits their location or buys something with them. Lures are limited though and once you run out, you’ll have to buy more with PokéCoins or real money but if it’s attracting potential customers, it’s definitely worth investing in.

Rare Pokémon

Rare Pokémon are usually extremely hard to find and, as a result, extremely in demand. By alerting people of your find, you’ll be able to maximise your brand awareness and again, be able to incentivise the opportunity.

Social Media

Perhaps the easiest way to make the most of Pokémon GO is through the medium of social media. Within hours of the release, PokemongoUK was trending on Twitter and Facebook, behemoth brands such as Virgin Media were rolling out GIFs and memes about it and ordinary people were posting images of the Pokémon they had caught. Join in the conversation – make your whole office support one team and then try to take control of the closest gym, organise a meetup in a crowded location for people to come together to play, or simply post about catching Pokémon in your office! One of the most impressive aspects of the game is the sense of community it promotes and social media is a great way to get involved in that community.

In short, Pokémon GO looks set to be a worldwide phenomenon and it will only get even more popular when the developers start releasing more features for the game. If you can engage your brand or business now, you’ll more than likely continue to benefit from the game in the future. 

ENS MD, Rebecca Hopkins, shares her thoughts on Maria Sharapova. First published in PR Week

Maria Sharapova has been handed a two-year ban for using meldonium, a drug which treats heart disease. The star had been using it since 2006 but WADA outlawed its use in sport at the start of the year. By taking it, Sharapova tested positive at January's Australian Open and whilst the infringement was not deemed intentional, culpability through ignorance will see her off the circuit until 2018.

Keeping tabs on what substances are and aren’t legal in sport is often presented as a herculean task and to a degree it is. However there are plenty of resources freely available to anyone competing to make sure they know what they can safely take. Certainly it adds a level of admin to your life but it isn’t really the most arduous task. Commute this into other professions and suddenly it doesn’t seem such a big ask; plenty of (less well paid) jobs demand that practitioners keep abreast of the latest legislation, why then is it such a big ask of athletes to do the same? If a doctor, accountant or lawyer screwed up at work, they too could well find themselves facing sanction – as well as a few choice news reports.

According to Forbes, Sharapova’s career earnings reportedly exceed $20 million, the majority of which are from endorsements. A key part of her wider brand is her ‘Sugapova’ confectionary operation. And here in lies the PR conundrum; Sharapova has marketed herself – or has allowed herself to be marketed – as a canny business women. Someone genuinely this savvy would surely take far more direct interest in her own bottom line? Consequently that she is now contesting her innocence based ignorance doesn’t really ring true – and if it is, how much of a clever head really sits on those tanned shoulders? As a personal brand, sport or otherwise, you really can’t have it both ways.

Whilst a two year ban for such a talented athlete is a crying shame and deprives the game of a great performer, the ATP needed to issue a warning to others that taking banned substances will not be tolerated. Sharapova’s public omission of guilt may have pulled on the heartstrings of some but, for the good of tennis and sport, it had little effect on those that mattered. Unfortunately for Sharapova, her justification for this mistake was simply not good enough and this is clearly reflected in her sentencing. 

 

Read ENS MD Rebecca Hopkins' take on the situation unfolding in World Rugby...

In the wake of the outcome of Joe Marler’s World Rugby hearing, I think World Rugby ultimately got it right. Those who govern modern, professional sport are under huge pressure not only to react but to be seen to react. And here’s the thing, as is usual in this situation, you get a lot of other people reacting too, which is their right but in no way terribly helpful to the people concerned.

I feel sorry for Joe Marler; he seems a decent enough bloke who said something fundamentally misguided and has found himself caught up in a row which rapidly became less and less of his own making.

With contentious issues, such as race, gender and sexual orientation, the degree to which they are offensive is best gauged by the reaction of the person to whom they were directed. The problem with this from a sanctioning viewpoint is that there is no ‘one size fits all’. This means the powers that be have to legislate for issues along fairly hard line parametres, rendering ‘banter’ an outdated justification for insults.

From a PR point of view, aside from the original misdemeanour, Joe Marler did exactly the right thing. He apologized swiftly, has put out some heartfelt mea culpa messages and has otherwise had the wisdom to shut up. The problem, as so often in these cases from a PR perspective, is that his network has waded in to support him. It is testament to the man that he can command such loyalty and to his colleagues that they are willing to give it but, unfortunately, this type of vocal support heaps fuel on the fire of the story. From the RPA’s statement to the numerous comments of pro-Marler teammates, every quote inflates both the coverage and the issue.

Whilst I can perfectly understand the RPA rushing to Marler’s defence, I am intrigued as to whether they asked him if it was welcome? More to the point did they ask Sampson Lee if this was something he too would appreciate? In the whole affair, I suggest sympathies should lie most with Lee, after all would you want your 2016 6 Nations’ contribution remembered for this if you were him? 

 
Two years ago the team at ENS wrote this. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday and given the topic is still relevant as ever, here it is again…
 
Regardless of how good matches are, the gender equality debate in tennis still rears its head every Grand Slam, nine years after men and women’s winnings were made equal. Physical comparisons are always cited: men play faster, they play for longer, they are better tennis players. But is that really relevant? 
 
Prize money is a reward, not a salary, awarded for the dedication and commitment it takes to dominate in the toughest tournaments. Travel, coaching and equipment cost the same regardless of gender; hotel and plane tickets aren’t cheaper for women; there aren’t any ‘lady’ concessions for hiring a coach or joining a club.
 
Aside from the top 50 ranked players, riches are scarce. The number of women earning more than $500k a year is a third less than men and players climbing the rankings work just as hard all year round. From a sports marketing perspective women are just as valuable a commodity, perhaps even more so in the world of celebrity culture.
 
However, Grand Slams are the only tournament in which men play five sets and half the men’s first round matches are won in straight sets. All other Tour competitions throughout the season (for both genders) are battled over three sets. Perhaps the business end of the men’s tournament can be an exhibition of attrition and stamina that you wouldn’t see in women’s games but it’s also debatable whether this adds to the quality and entertainment of matches. 
 
This begs the question then, why are people so offended by equal pay? The increased women’s pot did not take away from the men’s; in fact, both have increased dramatically since equal pay was introduced.
 
Some of the quotes attributed to critics of the financial parity have proved a sports public relations rally to equal any match. Gilles Simon, a previous top 10 player and now part of the ATP players council, was criticised for saying 'I believe men's tennis is more interesting than women's tennis. You have to be paid on that basis'. Maria Sharapova’s response that 'more people watch my matches than his' is perhaps a fitting end to the argument. 
 
Thursday night was spent in the company of nearly 500 people who were passionate about sport. Or more specifically London sport. Or more specifically still, the sport they do in London, for I was at the London Sport Awards.
The London Sport Awards, by their own admission, celebrate all the good things that are happening to give Londoners a chance to participate and get active. They are the brainchild of London Sport, an organization which is not yet a year old but which has some very punchy and admirable goals, the main one being to make London the world’s most active city, the measure of which will be 1,000,000 of us locals doing a sporting activity regularly. 
One of the Sports Technology Awards judges, Richard Ayers CEO of Seven League, lists seven tips to ensure you bag a winning entry…
 
 
Entries for the BT Sports Industry Awards just closed. The Sports Technology Awards' closing date is the end of the month and I’m currently working my way through as many films as I can because I’m a lucky Bafta film judge. It seems that many people want a gong for Christmas, so I have some tips for those entering.
 
Firstly, how do I know what’s involved in award winning? To be clear, Seven League doesn’t win awards for our work, our clients do. Take the wonderful work our team did creating, recruiting, managing and maximising the value of the Rose Army during the Rugby World Cup… all our own graft for O2, but it will form part of award entries with our chums at M&C Saatchi, VCCP and O2 themselves. And quite right too.
 
Personally, I have a batch from former lives (being on bafta-winning teams and a range from my pure internet days) and then from my sport life it’s the BTSIA Best Website for Manchester City FC (for which, read digital generally. it was 2012) and the ridiculous but flattering Digital Individual of the Year DADI award, also in 2012 (did you know it was Sir Martin Sorrell the year after? Because it’s a natural jump from me to him. Right.).
 
However, on the judging side of things, the 7L team have done a lot more recently: The European Sponsorship Awards, the Sports Tech Awards, the Football Business Awards, the Business of Cricket Awards...
It’s always fascinating, and I appreciate the time and effort it takes to put together an awards entry - but because I know what an effort it can be, I thought I’d put together some simple tips.
 
A friend used to say that when he was filtering CVs, he’d take half of them and put them in the bin right at the beginning of the process. The logic was that it helped him cut down the workload and anyway, you wouldn’t want to hire someone who was unlucky.
 
For tips that are slightly more practical than ‘be lucky’, read on…
 
1. It’s not marketing blurb. Don’t use marketing speak. If possible, don’t get a marketing person to write it unless they can write in non-marketing speak. I’m a judge - that means you’d think I’ve got some experience in your sector. You won’t pull the wool over my eyes by saying something ‘exploded’ or ‘went viral’. You’re just going to irritate me. As a recovering journalist I know I have a sensitive spot when it comes to writing style - but hyperbolic idiocy will get your entry thrown in the bin. You think I’m joking? Three gems from recent judging: “This was a truly synergistic partnership” - shut up. and no, it wasn’t Josh or Carsten at Synergy being clever; “We nailed the target” - really? do I look like I’m in the pub… what is that supposed to mean? might as well have said ‘smashed it. dropped the mic’; “The project exploded in social media” - it did WHAT?! WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!?
 
1.a. Going back to the judge thing… the organisers usually ask people who are good at what they do. Now, sometimes we get asked to judge categories that are not our home turf so a little bit of explanation is good, but beware of patronising or over-simplifying, because it might look like you’re trying to pull the wool.
 
2. I don’t have all the time in the world to read your carefully crafted essay. If you’ve got something good to say, make it concise and punchy and clear in the first paragraph. First sentence if possible. Bullet points are good. Here’s a crazy idea, why don’t you put some real facts in there too. Real ones.
 
It's easy: Check the limit, count the words
 
Look at it from a judge’s perspective. It’s a fascinating process and sometimes you see work you didn’t know about, which is interesting. But it’s not paid work. The last time I did one, I had 104 entries to review. There were some that were duplicates but there were still about 80 individual entries and even if I spent just 90 seconds reading each one of them, that’s still 2 hours of my time. The reality is you spend a minimum of 5 mins on each one.
 
3. Categories. They’re there for a reason. You might think that your project was ‘massively social’ (see point 1.) but unless it meets the criteria, it will go in the bin (see point 2.). If the criteria aren’t clear or your project does cross some boundaries, then get in touch with the organisers and check. Or say something about that in your well-honed, tightly-written entry.
 
4. Be classy. Don’t comment on others. It’s just not done. Picking out competitors or other projects and criticising them is ungentlemanly at least. If you really have a point to make, then an oblique reference to the issues is passable, but be careful.
 
5. Word Limit. It’s a word limit. You know, like a speed limit - you can go over it if you want, but it will be illegal and if a policeman decides to nick you, then you’re bang to rights. See point 2… one of the ways of filtering is simply to look at the long ones and make a super quick decision about whether it’s going to be worth the read.
 
6. FACTS. Yes, I know, this one will blow your mind. How about you actually put some facts in the entry. We’re intelligent enough (see 1.a) to know that something can be highly effective and award-worthy even if it didn’t get all the publicity and public awareness. Small and beautiful is good. Yes, the big boys will put in huge totals of social media reach and website traffic… and omit to say that they spent a truck load on digital marketing to buy traffic. Yes, they will forget to point out that their website campaign was supported by the insanely expensive tv spot, or that it was part of a national event with high profile celebrities, so of course it got loads of awareness. We know this. We can factor that in. We can question numbers. Whether it be KPIs or budgets, just be clear as you can. But you have to give us the numbers - numbers that matter - in the first place. No numbers = bin. Wrong number = bin. Numbers purporting to be relevant but trying to pull the wool? Bin. Numbers that have relevance and tell as much of the whole story as you can… not bin.
 
6.a. Digital and Social numbers. This is worth a paragraph, partly because it is an area of real expertise for Seven League. Yes, there are lies, damned lies and digital numbers. You can make them tell almost any story you want and, at the same time, there are all sorts of moving goalposts and changing definitions (and mixed metaphors) from the various platforms who have a black-box approach to analytics. We judges know that sometimes it’s difficult to give the right engagement figure, or to combine different platforms’ approaches. That’s ok - just be clear about it, or point us to a page on your website that tries to explain it - but give detail wherever you can.
 
6.b. There’s one area where us judges do give some leeway on numbers - and that’s project budgets. It’s very very useful to give as much detail as you can, but we do understand that sometimes it’s just too sensitive. There, you see, I can have empathy.
 
and finally, because there had to be Seven tips…
 
7. Being on a short list is good. Don’t crave the win. I have seen some odd things go on in a judging room. Like Hancock and Syd James’ Twelve Angry Men episode of Hancock's Half Hour… the group can swing one way and another. This doesn’t happen in the STAs case where it’s all done on scoring and we judges won’t meet, but most awards *do* have a judging day. One strong voice can bias the proceedings, or one procedural point can make a bigger-than-expected impact. 99% of judges have always been very diligent in my experience, but we all get stuck for time and if people have to leave and a quick decision is needed… it might be your entry that comes off worse. To be on the short list is a real credit to you. Still… if you are lucky enough to win, enjoy every minute of it.
 
 
 
 
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