Silver Anvil Awards Recognize Excellence: 41 Winning Programs Address Pressing National Issues

By Gordon, Judy A. | Public Relations Journal, June 1992 | Go to article overview

Silver Anvil Awards Recognize Excellence: 41 Winning Programs Address Pressing National Issues


Gordon, Judy A., Public Relations Journal


41 Winning Programs Address Pressing National issues

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in California had a problem. In 1988, U.S. Department of Agriculture surplus commodities were cut by more than half, and national food donations were also declining". With the ranks of the hungry projected to rise sharply, another source had to be found to cover the shortfall. The Crisis Program, a New York state-based business and industry Public information group, also faced a dilemma. Roads and bridges were crumbling, and state voters were tiring of transportation bonds. Another source of funding was needed -- fast.

In both cases, Silver Anvil Award-winning public relations programs got results. Annual food drives for Second Harvest featured grocery bags inserted into the San Jose Mercury News for the past four years. The 1991 food drive peaked at a record 1,340,460 pounds of food donated by the community. And in New York state, a public affairs program focused public pressure on lawmakers to establish the state's first dedicated transportation fund.

These and other award-winning public relations programs presented solutions to some of the country's most critical issues, including the economy, education, health and public safety. "Judges react well to programs that do some good", said Lou Capozzi, APR, 1992 Silver Anvil Committee chairman. "The vast majority of winners, whether they are in the community relations or public service categories or not, are programs which help people in some way," explained Capozzi, who is worldwide creative director for Manning, Selvage & Lee, based in New York City.

In the marketing communications category, for example, besides the Second Harvest Food Bank, other winners include Merrill Lynch, which developed a system to enable its financial consultants to communicate with hearing-impaired investors; the city of Hampton, VA, which instituted a recycling education program; and Kendall-Futuro, which developed a program to teach children to care for minor wounds while promoting a new adhesive bandage.

The bottom-line is not neglected in winning programs, either. Faced with business losses, Edward Howard & Co., an independent public relations firm located in Cleveland, OH, took a look at the marketplace and embarked on a marketing communications program to reposition the firm and its services. Four years later, the firm's resulting growth serves as a case study in how to market a mature professional services firm.

The Silver Anvil Awards program is conducted annually by PRSA to encourage improved public relations performance and techniques. Public relations programs conducted by business and industry, public relations firms and not-for-profit organizations are all eligible. The first Silver Anvils were awarded in 1944 at the first convention of the American Public Relations Association. The anvil was selected as a symbol because the validity, quality and achievement of any public relations activity are ultimately shaped on the anvil of public opinion.

The Silver Anvil Awards are given for programs in 14 categories. To qualify for an award, a program must incorporate sound public relations objectives and philosophy, meet the highest standards in all four program elements -- research, planning, execution and evaluation - and make an important contribution to the public relations profession.

According to Capozzi, who has been involved with the Silver Anvil program for 10 years, the level of research documentation for strategy and research-based results is much higher. "The state of the art of research in public relations has come a long way over 10 years" he said. "Programs are more well-documented".

The winning programs are case studies in success in the areas of community relations; institutional programs; special events and observances of either seven or fewer days, or more than seven days; public service; public affairs; marketing communications for new services, established services, new products or established products; international public relations; crisis communications; internal communications; and investor relations. …

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