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the unawards: they’re not just for christmas

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THE UNAWARDS: THEY'RE NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

CAN not just for christmas UnAwards.jpg

With three weeks to go until the submission deadline, there’s a great way for all entries – not just the winners – to provide ongoing inspiration long after the December ceremony.

by John-Paul Danon.

Last year’s UnAwards resulted in a bumper of crop of 420 entries in the 18 categories. Of these, 70 achieved the kudos of being shortlisted but – naturally enough – there was only one winner in each section. So, what happened to the 350 entries that didn’t win? Those well-crafted submissions will have contained a wealth of information and inspiration useful to comms folk – I know, as I was lucky enough to be one of the judges.

This year, comms2point0 mastermind Darren Caveney and we at CAN have come up with a way in which the 2019 entries (from which there’ll be 19 winners, with the welcome addition of the ‘Supporting health and wellbeing’ category) can have a life long after the credits have rolled on the Christmas movie that wraps up the UnAwards winners’ event in December.

When you sit down with your beverage of choice to fill in this year’s entry form, you’ll see a tick box at the end asking if you’d be happy to share your submission as part of a new resource. This resource – currently being developed – will be a digital ‘campaign bank’.

A stash of insight gained from the submissions UnAwards entrants agree to share, plus from the campaigns CAN runs with local councils (on everything from recycling and fostering to resident consultations and public health) comms people will be able to search through hundreds of examples of great campaign work to find out which approaches generated the best outcomes, the messages that really resonated with audiences, and inspiring ideas for how to do things a little differently.

The resource will incorporate a ‘creative bank’ in which measurably successful and/or award-winning campaign assets – artwork, videos and digital tools – can be licensed for a small fee from the council who originated them, so you’re not having to constantly reinvent the wheel when you’re pushed for time and resources.

Play to your strengths

So, what can you add to our bank of collective comms knowledge through your UnAwards entry this year? Luckily you don’t have to be an all-round campaign genius and good at everything. Comms comes in all shapes and sizes and the categories for these awards are carefully worded so you/your team can throw the spotlight on whatever has done the heavy lifting for you over the past 12 months.

So, whether that’s social media, research, evaluation, email, internal comms, creative work, collaboration or managing to get things done free or low cost, there’s a category for you – with a full list here.

One of my favourite winners from the 2018 UnAwards was rewarded for their creative chops: South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. Their video ‘Kids talk about their firefighter mums’ (which you must see here if you haven’t yet) came out of a need to recruit more women by appealing to career-changers with kids. The simple but brilliant idea behind the production was key: getting firefighters’ children to talk about them as mothers first before the reveal to flip any potential stereotyping on its head.

CAN is a digital company so, as you might expect, it’s strength in research and evaluation that I value as a marker of success in the campaigns we run with councils. For example, I’m proud of our ongoing work on the Stop Smoking London campaign with the capital’s boroughs which has seen us find new ways to get to those residents most likely to be on the verge of quitting.

We honed in on research that pointed to the 25-40 age group’s habit of using social cigarette breaks to check their mobile phones and combined this with a qualifying question on smoking for those who clicked on our digital ads to make sure we were targeting the right people. We then targeted London pubs and clubs in the evening to nudge smokers towards taking action with repeat messages. You can see a case study here.

But it was social media – using a Facebook tool that tested people’s knowledge of what things could be recycled locally and where – that powered my other favourite CAN campaign over the past year. We managed to get over 37,000 interactions over a two-week period for the four London councils taking part (case study here).

Inside knowledge

Of course, the UnAwards are as much about recognising teams who get their internal messages right, helping staff along in their day-to-day work, as external campaigning. One of the highlights of the UnAwards 2018 Winners’ Masterclass was the comms team at Loughborough University showing how an internal campaign can be both effective and low-cost by combining a meaningful cause with a meaningful objective in a defined timescale.

The university’s Heart 2 Heart initiative took place over a set 12 hours on Valentine’s Day. With the support of the British Heart Foundation and local ambulance service, nearly 1,500 staff and students (a meaningful target of two people trained per one identified space on campus) were taught to perform CPR in a bid to increase the cardiac arrest survival rate of one in 18 in the East Midlands (the meaningful cause).

The team at Loughborough nabbed two UnAwards for that campaign – both ‘best low-cost’ and ‘best internal’ communications. And Loughborough University is The Times and Sunday Times ‘University of the Year 2019’ (the UnAwards has its finger on the pulse of the good guys!).

So, grab a coffee, fire up your laptop and get that UnAwards entry in by 30 October. Even if you don’t win one of the honours, everybody still wins because you’ve shared the knowledge from all that hard work you’ve put into your comms over the past year. Good luck!

John-Paul Danon is co-founder and Sales Director at UnAwards sponsor, CAN, which works with local councils to get their campaigns seen by the right people online and on social media. Say hello on Twitter at CAN and JPDanon.

image via USMC Archives

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