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Celebrate the Season with PR and Marketing Holiday Parties

16407127_sReady to network? Register now for these holiday events. You’ll meet some interesting people.  Here are some sure bets…

Wednesday, December 4

The One Party

RoseBar, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Tonight is the local PR/Advertising industry’s biggest holiday bash, The One Party.  The multi-sponsored party (Capitol Communicator, DC Ad Club, PRSA-NCC, AMADC, etc.) typically draws about 200 people.

Tips: It’s loud and the drink lines are long, and no one ever dances, but it’s the ad community’s event to see and be seen, and admission includes two drinks and appetizer.  A mix of ages and backgrounds, this event skews to 20s and 30s and the advertising/creative set.  Almost everyone behaves.  Bring cards, but this one’s mostly for the photo-ops.  Register for the event ($55/60).

Tuesday, December 10

Holiday Network-and-Lunch

Clyde’s – Chevy Chase, 12 Noon – 1:30 p.m. Fletcher Prince organizes this small group business networking event. The conversation is casual and everyone pays their own way ($15 to $20).

Tips: Dress is business casual. Expect to meet a diverse group of six to twelve business owners and PR professionals, as well as yours truly.

PRSA-NCC Holiday Party

Carmine’s, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Join the National Capital Chapter of the PRSA for holiday networking, drinks and Italian hors d’oeuvres in Washington, DC.

Tips: Network with a suited and mature crowd of about 50 PR professionals who know each other well.  There are chapter volunteer award announcements.  Better for chapter insiders. Bring a toy for Toys for Tots.  Register today.

Tuesday, December 17

WWPR Holiday Party

Tonic Restaurant, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Join Washington Women in Public Relations for their Holiday Party in Washington, DC  The specialty of this Foggy Bottom restaurant is comfort food, including tots with a variety of sauces. All guests will leave with a party favor from WWPR and an early release of the 2014 schedule of events. Raffle proceeds benefit WWPR’s pro bono client, FLOW–Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls.

Tips: Both men and women attend these events, but the majority are fashionably attired, well-heeled female PR pros in their 20s and 30s, as well as a few seasoned pros with great connections.  A mannerly bunch, and a friendly crowd to newbies.

Woo Hoo, Year 2! Back on the DC Ad Club ADDYs Committee

I am very pleased to report (okay, brag!) that I have been asked to join the DC Ad Club’s ADDYs planning committee for the second year.  Awed, in fact, considering the company I will be keeping.  I’d better shake off my summer laziness and get my creativity in gear, because our first meeting’s in August.

Last year, I wrote a public relations and marketing plan, produced nine videos, optimized the DC Ad Club YouTube Channel for search, and resurrected and redesigned the DC AD Club blog.  I feel good about my contributions.  And it was fun!

My not-so-secret hope is that the public relations community and the advertising community will mix more, because I think we could do great things together, and learn from each other.  I know I learn a lot.  So this is my small move in that direction.

I’m excited that I will be once again working with Wendy Moniz, co-chair, from The Plowshare Group.  Joining Wendy will be Beth Johnson, President of RP3 Agency.  Jim Lansbury from RP3 will be back, as will Eric Frost from The Plowshare Group and Greg Kihlstrom from Carousel 30.

I’m looking forward to getting to know the new committee members, Jamin Hayle and Lisa Biskin from RP3, and Valerie Vyoscak, Senior Sales Manager at Video Labs.

Last but not certainly not least, I will especially look forward to working with DC Ad Club’s Executive Director Carol Montoya, with whom I produced some ADDYs videos last year.

To Thoth…or Not?

Getting an award for your communications work is a real feather in your cap, second in value to your business, I would think, only to landing a great client recommendation or testimonial.

Area communications organizations know this, and capitalize on this.  The annual awards programs are major revenue-builders, as the leadership will readily admit.  That’s one reason why there are so many categories!  More entries, more chances to win, and more revenues.

That’s not to say awards programs are not valuable endeavors, even to those communicators who don’t win awards.  I enjoy the awards programs because I like to see what kinds of approaches are being used by communicators — when that observation is provided for.

Locally, DC communicators have a variety of awards from which to select — PRSA-NCC has the Thoth Awards, The DC Ad Club offers the ADDYs, and IABC-DC has the Silver Inkwell Awards.

Honestly, I don’t know much about the IABC-DC awards.  I’m not a member.  But I do know about the PRSA-NCC and DC Ad Club award programs.  I have worked to promote both in past years.

But I have only entered one of these competitions.  Can you guess which one?

Nope.  Not that one.

Although I identify primarily with the public relations community in the DC area, the awards competition I care about enough to enter is the ADDYs.

Why?  Well, for several reasons.  I thought I would take a look at that today, because I think the Thoth Awards can learn a thing or two from the ADDYs.  If the Thoth Awards were structured more like the ADDYs, I would enter my work. Until then, I think I’ll just observe and clap politely 🙂

Reason #1: Significance of Award

The Thoth Award is a great award to have.  But the ADDY Award carries more prestige, for this reason: once you win the DC-based Thoth, that’s it.  You do not go on to win regional or national recognition for your work.  The ADDYs, by contrast, are a tiered competition. DC area winners go on to compete in the regionals.  Regional winners go on to compete for the national awards.  Winning a national award is a big deal. Winning a DC-based competition, not so much.

I believe the PRSA should implement a tiered competition, as does the American Advertising Federation.  The current system is more than a little confusing, and not tied to the local chapters at all.  It would make for a more meaningful and exciting competition, and would also promote national standards of excellence for the profession.

Reason #2: Impartiality of Judges

The primary reason why I have not entered the Thoth competition is because of the way the judges are selected.  I am not alleging that the judges are prejudiced one way or another, and I appreciate the volunteer service of past judges.  I’m sure they strive to be as impartial as possible.  The problem is, the way the judges are selected for Thoth does not ensure impartiality in the way that the ADDYs do, and impartiality is a critical aspect of any awards competition, particularly a local one.

In a nutshell,

Thoth Awards: Local judges.  No transparency.

ADDY Awards: Non-local judges.  Full transparency.

The judges for the ADDYs are selected for their expertise in each category.  Many are known nationally for their work, and no judges within the Washington metropolitan area are included on the judging panel.  An effort is made to create diversity among the judges.  And, while it is a volunteer gig, their expenses are reimbursed, which is important for out-of-area travel and makes the impartial nature of the judging process feasible.  Also the names and backgrounds of the judges are released beforehand.  Walking into it, you know your work is going to be assessed by some pretty incredible folks.  Even if you don’t win, that carries value for the entrant.  But importantly, they’re evaluating the work.  Not you.

The Thoth Awards, by contrast, are judged by members of the PRSA-NCC, usually the prominent ones.  There are only about 1200 of us.  If you’re active in PRSA-NCC, chances are, you will personally know the judges, and they will know you, to some degree.  Possibly a higher degree of acquaintance than name only, if you have created work worthy of an entry.  Not that you know who they are, because the identities are not made public.  But they know who you are.  And just that fact, I think, makes it really hard for them to be impartial judges of the work.  They’re just too close to it.  Also there doesn’t seem to be any established way of selecting judges.  I know people volunteer and I know people are asked.  But what criteria is used?  They appear to be hand-selected by whoever is in charge of Thoth that year.  There is no clear criteria for judge selection for the Thoth awards (at least, none that is publicly available or disclosed) the way there is for the ADDY Awards.

The anonymous nature of Thoth judges presents a problem for many entrants.  You know your work will be judged by your peers, but you don’t know if those peers actually have any expertise for your category.  You’re not assured, for example, that they have experience in, or even an understanding of, the category they are judging.

Honestly, you don’t even know if the judges are entering the competition themselves that year.  (Of course, I don’t think they should, and I don’t think Thoth committee members should enter the competition for the year they serve, either.)  None of that is clear to the entrant.

These factors make their assessment difficult to value, as an entrant.

Reason #3: Presentation of the Work

As I mentioned, communications organizations load competitions with plenty of categories because awards programs generate big revenues.  It gets a bit challenging, actually, when it comes time to actually distribute all those awards on awards night.

Because space and time are at a premium for awards ceremonies, the Thoth Awards tend not to display the work in a way that is meaningful to the awards ceremony attendees.  So you can attend the Thoth Awards, either as an entrant or just as a spectator, and walk away with a bunch of names that evening, but no real demonstration of why their work was considered excellent.  You don’t know why they won.  The learning piece is not there. The award winners are not even displayed on the PRSA-NCC website.

The ADDY Awards, in comparison, is a whole different affair.  Visit the DC Ad Club website and you will see the winners, not just for the most recent year, but for several recent years.  Think what a marketing benefit that is for the award-winner!

But more importantly, display of the winning entries (at the various levels) is an integral part of the ADDYs.  There is ample time to peruse the gallery of entrants, both before and after the awards ceremony.  And during the ceremony, care is given to display the entries, as time allots (for example, videos are shown, and screen grabs of websites and logos are displayed).

Not only does this make for a more interesting evening, but you actually learn something about what constitutes excellence in this area, and for that category.

Reason #4: Cost of Entry

The cost of entering the Thoth Awards has not prevented me from entering.  What has discouraged me from entering is the judging approach.  But I think it’s worth pointing out the Thoth Awards is a pricey endeavor, in comparison to other awards programs.

This would prevent some firms from competing to the same degree as other, more well-heeled firms.  I imagine if you were submitting 10 entries, cost could be a factor.  And there is a marked difference in entry fees between the ADDYs and the Thoth Awards that I can’t see as justified.

Last year, a DC Ad Club member could enter the ADDYs for $100 per entry.  That is the one time fee.  The local winners would not have to resubmit entry fees to compete at the regional and national levels. That is included, if you win.

And let’s face it, the time to assemble the entry costs money, too.  With the ADDYs, you do that just once.

Contrast this to the PRSA-NCC’s Thoth awards.  Not a tiered competition.  Not flying in and hosting judges, like the ADDYs does.  Not renting a space sufficiently large to display award winning entries, like the ADDYs also does.

But in excess of 50% more expensive, per cost per entry: $160, for PRSA-NCC members. How is that justified?

So, thinking about entering the national PRSA Bronze Anvil or Silver Anvil competitions?  You’ll have to enter those competitions separately, and pay separately, too.  In addition to the time you’ll spend preparing your entry, get ready to write a check for $300 per entry for the Silver Anvil, or $175 for the Bronze. But don’t forget to tack on $25 extra if you pay your entry fee by check!

And, tough luck, there are no regional categories for the Bronze Anvil or Silver Anvil Awards.  Nor are there Student Awards (with suitable discounts), as there are for the ADDYs.

Should You Thoth?  Or Not?

The truth is, the Thoth Awards are not the only game in town.  Communicators do have options.  As much as I support the PRSA-NCC in other ways,  I think the awards program requires serious restructuring, from the top down.

It’s time for the PRSA to emulate the American Advertising Federation, and for its chapters to do likewise.

12 Days of Marketing Communications. Day 12: Pro Bono Work

Well, we have talked a lot the past eleven days about the marketing communications work that Fletcher Prince does for clients.  Since this is the season of giving, I thought I would dedicate the 12th post in this series to talk about importance of volunteer and pro bono work.

My mother instilled the values of giving back at a young age.  By the time I was 12, I was volunteering for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, tutoring Vietnamese children how to read and speak English, and participating in community theater productions.

Fletcher Prince is still a young company, but each year we have been in business, we have volunteered and donated pro bono services to local communications organizations.  Our first year, we donated graphic design services to WWPR for their Washington PR Woman of the Year award, and I volunteered as co-chair for the event.  The second year, we helped PRSA-NCC launch their social media outreach efforts and developed their blog, and I served as co-chair for the chapter’s marketing committee.

DC Ad Club

This year’s public relations project for the DC Ad Club has been just as rewarding as our first two projects.  In 2010, we

  • Participated in all ADDY Committee planning meetings.
  • Created a public relations and social media plan for the 2011 ADDYs.
  • Remodeled the DC Ad Club blog, and connected it to their Facebook Page.
  • Recorded nine YouTube videos and optimized their YouTube Channel with relevant and search engine friendly text, tags, descriptions, and playlists.  We organized and tweaked the Channel design a bit, too, to more closely reflect the DC Ad Club brand.
  • Sent a press release about the call for entries, which was picked up by Capitol Communicator.
  • Wrote about the ADDYs in our blog, the DC Ad Club blog, and

We have enjoyed every moment of our association with the DC Ad Club and look forward to our continued work with the ADDYs committee in early 2011.

Conversations in Public Relations

Our work on the YouTube video series Conversations in Public Relations continues to be important to us.  In 2010, we recorded several more videos with communications professionals in the Washington, DC area.  As you know, we produce the series at our own expense and no one pays to participate.  It’s our contribution to furthering knowledge, insights, and best practices related to our profession.

My words to you today, on this special day, is to look for ways you can give back to your industry or to worthy projects in 2011. I know you will find, as I have done, that the rewards far exceed the effort.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Register for Advertising Week DC (VIDEO)

David and Mary at Ad Week DC

Have you attended Advertising Week in DC?  If you have an interest in advertising and live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, you should not miss it.  It is really one of the best organized and most outstanding (in quality and value) professional development opportunities in the year of communications events.

The DC Ad Club will host its 7th annual networking and educational forum for the area’s advertising, marketing and communications professionals, Advertising Week DC, this month, and there is plenty on the agenda to capture the interest of advertising, marketing, and public relations professionals, including some very interesting seminar topics and top-grade presenters.

The event kicks off with a reception and screening of the 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival at USA Today on Monday, September 20. Registration fees for the event are $50 for Ad Club members (PRSA-NCC and AMA-DC members also receive discounts this year); $60 for non-members.  Now this is really a must-attend event.  First of all, the food is great.  There is a bar.  You can easily eat dinner on what is provided 🙂 Secondly, there is the networking.  If you want to shake hands with some of the most powerful people in media, here is the place to do it.  Thirdly, there is the film itself.  This is the domestic premiere of the Cannes event.  You can’t leave the auditorium without having been moved, amused, and inspired by the most creative advertising on the planet. I know I was!

The conference segment of Advertising Week DC takes place over the next two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, September 21-22, and, as I mentioned, represents an outstanding value in terms of professional development opportunity for the price.  If there is a down-side, it’s only absorbing and processing so much incredible information in the space of two days.  A two-day pass for both days includes lunch and is $210 for Ad Club, PRSA-NCC, and AMA-DC members. Non-members pay $230 and students may attend for $130.

Keynote presentations and panel discussion topics range from marketing and social media to politics and reporting to a session on creativity.

Scheduled speakers and panelists include Tiffany Rolfe, VP, Group Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Stuart Elliott, advertising columnist for The New York Times; Jim Elms, Executive Vice President; Universal McCann; Norah O’Donnell, MSNBC Chief Washington Correspondent and one of Washingtonian Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women,” and many more.

To register, visit

Big plans for the DC Addys Committee

Having been an attendee for the past few years, I am over-the-top excited to be participating on the 2011 Addys Commitee, which will be presented in March 2011.  David Hyson is on the committee, as well, and he attended the kick-off meeting yesterday.

The DC Ad Club and the Addys

So, in case you didn’t know, The DC Addys are the first tier of an international competition, and are presented by The DC Ad Club, a membership association of more than 1,000 advertising professionals in the Washington, DC area.  The club is a chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

Insider news from the committee…

The 2011 Addys Committee is headed up by Wendy Moniz (The Plowshare Group), Matt Smith (Smith Gifford), and Karen Riordan (Arnold Worldwide), as well as Potomac Management’s Carol Montoya, Doug Wright, and Michelle Adams. Just found out that Smith Gifford’s going to handle the creative for the Addys this year, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

I know I am going to learn so much from these great folks.  I believe I’ll be contributing to the social media and PR efforts (yeah!) and David and I are looking forward to pitching in wherever we can help.

The committee includes veteran and newbie members, including Arnold’s art director, Julia Sarver; Eric Frost, senior campaign manager The Plowshare Group; Jim Lansbury, creative director for RP3 Agency; Sally Behnam, owner-designer of Design 4 Future; Woody Hinkle of Nasuti + Hinkle, Charles Panagopolous from Hutzpah Media; Greg Kihlstrom, chief creative officer at Carousel 30; Daisy Wilcher, account executive at Smith Gifford; and Erinn Dumas, public relations representative for AHRI.

In case you’re interested in getting to know these advertising professionals better, I’ve created a Twitter list of committee members, which you can find here called (appropriately) “DC Addys Committee.” 🙂  (Just look on my Twitter page to see the lists on the right side bar.)

Oh, and here’s a slideshow from the 2010 event…

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And I found this YouTube video for the 2007 event.

The story behind brilliant advertising campaigns

Kirk Souder

Kirk Souder (image: Advertising Age)

To understand the power of advertising, it can be helpful to look at influences from the not-so-distant past.  The story and creative talents behind innovative advertising campaigns, such as Nike’s “Just Do It,” Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” and “Got Milk?” are featured in Art & Copy, a documentary about the advertising industry.

The DC Ad Club is presenting a screening of Art & Copy, on Wednesday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC (Metro: McPherson Square – Orange Line or Farragut North – Red Line). Kirk Souder, Executive Creative Director of Omnicom Group’s GMMB in Washington, DC — and one of the film’s producers — will present introductory remarks.  A question and answer session will follow the screening.

Here’s a trailer from the film:

Proceeds from the event will benefit the DC Ad Club Foundation, which sponsors scholarships for design and advertising students.

The event includes an hour of networking beginning at 6:30 p.m., and the film will be shown at 7:30 p.m.  There will be a cash bar.  Cost is $15 for Ad 2 DC members and full-time students, $20 for DC Ad Club members, and $25 for non-members

To register for the event, visit the DC Ad Club online

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