Tag Archives: ace submission

#CPRSACE: Edelman’s Sarah McEvoy On The Power Of PR


“Imagine this. Picture yourself emerging from a dense jungle. In front of you? El Dorado, the lost city of gold.”

This sounds breathtaking, doesn’t it? This scene does have an end, and it was written by Edelman for their award-winning 20-Second Daydreams campaign.

Edelman and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) took home the ACE Award for 2016’s PR Campaign of the Year. We tapped Edelman Vice President of Corporate Communications Sarah McEvoy to grab insight into the campaign’s creative process and learn how powerful PR can be.


  1. What inspired the 20-Second Daydreams campaign?

Our research. When we sat down with the OAO, the optometrists told us their patients most commonly ask about how computers affect their eyes. Then we learned about the 20/20/20 rule – look away from your computer every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, 20 feet away. We used this rule to anchor the campaign and educate the public about computer vision syndrome, an issue we know they care about.


  1. What was the biggest challenge the creative team faced while developing an idea to promote computer vision syndrome?

We know online channels are most effective in reaching Ontarians en masse. Ironically, this meant we needed people to use screens to tell people to look away from their screens. The challenge was crafting a compelling idea based on that irony. Instead of simply sharing our information, we used an audio theatre of the mind concept to create a way for them to enjoy it. “Edutainment” if you will.


  1. You launched your campaign and waited for the public to react. What was it like to watch the public respond?

We had speedy results, shares and comments on our five different videos. YouTube and Facebook delivered over 356,000 video views and the OAO’s “Find an Optometrist” locator tool saw clicks increase by 26,000. Seeing these kinds of numbers was gratifying for the team to realize we struck a cord with the public.


  1. The OAO said the 20-Second Daydreams campaign was a success.
    Why submit it to the ACE Awards?

We exceeded our objectives within the first couple months. That’s when we realized we really had an interesting story to tell. The traditional model of PR is evolving, where campaigns are far more integrated, combining research creative, earned, digital, paid and search all as part of the PR offering. Since our work fit perfectly into this evolving world of PR, we wanted to share it with our industry colleagues and beyond.


  1. Do you think it’s important to recognize work in PR?

Absolutely. PR, and by extension, communications marketing, is a powerful tool that can influence positive change. Working with the OAO to bring attention to an issue that affects nearly all Ontarians continues to be fulfilling. After our campaign, the OAO reported that an additional 198,843 optometry services were provided in 2014/2015 compared to 2013/2014. We were so pleased to have our campaign contribute to that increase.


  1. After all of this, do you see yourself taking more trips to the optometrist?

100 per cent. I have three kids at home who all go for comprehensive eye exams and I’m now more passionate than ever about children’s vision. I’m thrilled our campaign sent more people to the optometrist. It’s so rewarding when your work truly makes a difference.


Sarah’s PR Tip: Our research was the foundation for our campaign idea. You cannot underestimate the importance of insights and analytics.

To hear more Edelman voices on the 20-Second Daydreams campaign you can click here.

The CPRS Ace Awards Gala will be held on May 2, 2017.


By: Carolyn LoConte,
Humber College Postgraduate PR student

What truly makes a gold submission?


ACE Awards Judge, Lauren More, answers that question and shares her insights on the qualities of a gold winning submission

Taking the leap to judging the CPRS Toronto Ace Awards was a natural next step for Lauren More, VP Communications for Ford of Canada. Her six years of judging allowed her to see some of the freshest and most creative campaigns across industries. From helping run the CPRS Toronto mentoring program to ACE Awards judging, Lauren sees volunteering as her way of supporting the communications field.

Lauren shares her insight into creating an award-winning submission with this year’s crop of ACE award applicants:

The most popular categories

While ACE award judges typically judge on a variety of different categories, there are some categories that receive far more entries and are more competitive to place.

“It’s very competitive because it’s kind of the meat and potatoes of a lot of what we do as communicators,” said Lauren. “But the other area that has certainly just expanded exponentially is the social media category.”

The social media category, in particular, has some of the most creative submissions she’s seen.

The most standout campaigns

Lauren notes that often the most memorable and effective campaigns are the ones where “maybe it’s not the sexiest product or the sexiest point of view or the sexiest issue to grab awareness for”. Yet with a creative approach, these campaigns gained a ton of media attention.

While there are some topics that are naturally going to be of more interest to the media, the campaigns she’s enjoyed over the years are the ones where the brand really has to work at it to find something that would be meaningful to their audience.

The challenges to creativity

While it’s increasingly challenging, to come up with new ideas and new approaches, Lauren concedes sometimes there are periods where budgets have been a lot tighter.

“You have to do a lot more with a lot less,” she said, “And you’re still expected to deliver the same type of results – so I think that’s really pushed the level of creativity.”

The ability to sit back

It comes to no surprise that most communicators rarely have time to slow their everyday pace. Lauren explained the ACE Awards provide that perfect evening to do just that with your team and reflect back on your best work.

“We tend to in our jobs and our field to run pretty fast and run pretty hard.” she said, “And I think it’s really worthwhile to stop and take a breath now and then. To acknowledge the work and commitment we put in.”

There are certain things that separate excellence in our field. Lauren believes it’s important as a profession to both recognize and celebrate that.

The extra “oomph”

Key to winning best in show or taking home gold in any given category, Lauren emphasizes the consistency throughout the RACE formula steps. Some of the best submissions, in her opinion took the following measures:

  • The research connects well with the analysis
  • The analysis connects well to the communications tactics
  • A solid evaluation of the results

If you research well you understand what you’re trying to achieve with a communications program. Those winning gold and best in show have that extra dose of creativity, she said.

Lauren also notes past campaigns resonated with people – their key audience – and they told a story, a really good story and “they have that little extra oomph to them.”

Written by: Jessica Chong, Account Coordinator, High Road Communicatons

Taking home the top CPRS Toronto ACE Award


“And the 2015 Public Relations Campaign of the Year goes to Weber Shandwick and McDonald’s Canada McCafé Retail Launch.”

On May 20, 2015, the Weber Shandwick team jumped out of their seats and congratulated one another as their McDonald’s client walked on stage to accept the most prestigious ACE award of the night.

The Work Behind Winning

When asked to reflect on the agency’s big achievement and what it was like to compete in the ACE Awards, Jessica Greasley, account director from Weber Shandwick, stepped up to the opportunity.

In September 2014, Weber Shandwick devised a communications plan for McCafé’s first ever grocery launch. The essence of the communication plan focused on driving awareness of the retail launch to both consumers and the business sector.

Weber Shandwick demonstrated how the brand was innovative and appealed to a younger demographic through their campaign’s creative strategies and tactics. The global agency also took risks to try something new with Songza and the McDonald’s Canada internal team embraced this opportunity to engage their younger audience on a new digital platform. Greasley also explained how the agency’s partnership with the McDonald’s team also fueled the campaign’s success.

The ACE Awards Submission

The submission was comprehensive.

“All of the components in the submission emphasized how the campaign’s strategies tied directly back to the company’s business objectives.”

Greasley also noted the submission’s careful attention to distinguishing how their results matched their initial objectives and goals, which was instrumental to ensuring the campaign stood out. She even identified how showcasing the large scope of the campaign combined with the business and consumer phases and the planning and timing layout were key aspects of the submission.

In terms of advice to agencies developing their submission for the 2016 ACE Awards Greasley said, “Provide a good understanding of the insights that led to the approach. Having clear targets, and how you measured against it will make help the judges understand why it’s award-worthy.”

The Best In Show Presentation

With only 15 minutes to present in front of the judges, the team selected critical parts of the campaign to prove why it was deserving of the top award.

Their presentation communicated why the McCafé Retail launch should receive the prestigious award by:

  • Demonstrating a strong understanding of the company’s audience and brand image
  • Highlighting the agency’s thought process and initial research that was conducted to tailor the campaign’s objectives
  • Showcasing innovative strategies such as the Songza partnership and proving why it was chosen to effectively reach McCafé’s younger audience
  • Explaining the media relations strategy behind the campaign and timing it with International Coffee Day, which engaged consumers and garnered an overwhelming and successful amount of media coverage

The Importance of Celebrating the Public Relations and Communications Industry

After finding out the campaign surpassed Weber Shandwick’s targets (and stretch targets!) the team was confident that it was a strong contender to compete within the ACE Awards. “It was a great honour for the company and client,” said Greasly. Especially since McDonald’s has had a long standing partnership with the agency. Greasly also mentioned “it was all hands on deck”. Everyone from the agency contributed to the campaign and award.

Greasley informed me the agency is currently assembling their application for the ACE awards again this year, “As an industry, it’s definitely important to submit and recognize the great work that’s being done by communications professionals. Wishing all this year’s submissions the best of luck!”

To learn more about the campaign watch this video

Jessica Greasley LinkedIn

Follow Weber Shandwick @WSCanada

Written by: Alessandra Manieri, Post-Graduate Student, Humber College


Judging the ACE Awards, a researcher’s perspective


Friday February 26 is the deadline to submit to this year’s ACE Awards and returning judge, Lisa Covens, vice president of communications and public affairs at Leger, discussed her marking style and approach to judging this year’s campaigns.

Before stepping up as a judge, Lisa would attend the ACE Awards to support the clients who used Leger and the research they conducted for the award winning campaigns. When the opportunity came up to be one of the esteemed ACE judges, Lisa took it and started doing something she had never done before.

Lisa shared with us her strategy to marking submissions and to help prepare this year’s hopeful campaigns. Here are some highlights from her interview:

On her judging approach

“My focus will be on the RACE formula.” Research and evaluation jump at her the most.

On what makes a campaign stand out

“Today, campaigns are now so integrated – videos and visuals – which allow people to be very inclusive in their submission. Not only is the winning campaign sharp, but there’s something special about them. It is supported with research, includes creativity, success was measured and explained and overall well-executed.”

On the importance of submitting to the ACE Awards

As a returning judge for the third year in a row, Lisa listed why it is important to submit to recognitions awards such as CPRS Toronto’s ACE Awards:

  • Keeps public relations professionals on top of their game throughout the year
  • This isn’t done in market research so this a an opportunity worth taking advantage of
  • Provides a good reflection on the campaign – when summarizing a submission it makes you think of the campaign from beginning to end
  • Outline and learn from the issues encountered
  • And of course, recognition is always a good thing

On one piece advice for this year’s submissions

“It’s a shame when we mark a submission and it’s so creative and clear but misses a part of the requirements. Doing that will take you out of the running for the gold.”

TIP: Ask someone, who was not part of the campaign, to review the guideline and checklist. Ensure all the components are included because anything can be overlooked and the missing section will be marked with a zero.

On what she is looking forward too

“One aspect of the ACE Awards I really enjoy is the Best In Show judging day. That day, candidates are on top on their game. You get to witness great presenters and great speakers. I take away so much and I even receive insight on how to be a better presenter. It is such an inspiring night.”

One last thing: “Keep up the great work!”


Follow Lisa Covens on Twitter: @lisacovens


Submission deadline is this Friday February 26. Submit your campaigns here.

Written by Charzie Abendanio, Humber College BPR Student and CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee President

APEX PR’s Jennifer Stein on the importance of celebrating success


Last year, APEX Public Relations & Walmart Canada took home the ACE Award for Best Creative for the innovation and creativity behind their “Back-To-School with Walmart” campaign. We sat down with Jennifer Stein, vice president of APEX Public Relations, to look back on the award-winning campaign and the importance of celebrating success.

  1. What inspired you to launch Back-To-School with Walmart?

The inspiration started with the Snack Report. In our research we found out people were talking about lunch and dinner solutions, but not snack solutions. When I think about kids I think of them trading snacks on the school ground. Kids have snack envy, and that really set the tone for what we did.

  1. Why do you think the campaign was so successful in the end?

We really touched on a nerve on something that was applicable. We had a hypothesis, we did a survey to prove the hypothesis and the hypothesis was true.

It wasn’t just 50 per cent of moms, it was 85 per cent of moms that have this problem, and we knew we needed to provide this solution for them. We worked with a recipe developer to create fun recipes that would resonate with everyone. The content was amazing and when you have amazing content the media is more apt to pick it up.

  1. You have your finger on the pulse with key industry trends. How important is it to know your audience?

Not only do you need to know your target audience, you need to know what their habits are. How much time they’re spending shopping, how much time they’re spending watching TV, online and listening to the radio so that they can really be targeted, otherwise your message isn’t getting to them.

  1. Was an ACE Award priority during the campaign, or was it after it ended that you decided to submit?

After. Even though we knew we really blew it out of the water with media impressions, we didn’t know until a couple of months later when all the sales data came in that we helped drive sales and in-store foot traffic. It’s not until you get that insight that you know you have a winner.

  1. Back-To-School with Walmart was completed and your client was satisfied. Why submit to the ACE Awards?

I think it’s a nice way to congratulate the team. Awards can be tedious, but everyone squeals when you get an e-mail and it tells you you’ve won an award. It’s a feel-good ending to a campaign and something you can show the client, too, that it was an award-winning success.

  1. Do you think it’s important to submit to recognition awards like ACE?

Yes, often in our industry we do a campaign, we wrap and then we’re on to the next. We don’t take the time to sit back and relish how amazing the campaign was because this industry is so fast and furious. This allows us to take a step back and reflect. Not enough people do.

  1. Why do you think APEX won last year?

We had amazing content, content that was backed by research. And the campaign helped drive sales and at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.

  1. What advice do you have for those PR campaigns being submitted this year?

If you have a sales stat, always use a sales stat to show your success. Or stakeholder analysis. The more you can dig deep into that the better your awards submission will be.

  1. When you found out you were competing for the highest ACE Award, how did you prepare for the Best in Show judging?

We treated it like a new business pitch to a panel of 12 people we didn’t know. We put together a presentation, we vetted it and then we rehearsed. We rehearsed three to four times as a group.

Written by Bianca Jimeno, Post-Graduate Student, Humber College

ACE Awards submissions reminder!


By Natasha Nitsopoulos

Awwh, the feeling of a fresh new year. It’s time to set your goals higher and reach for the stars! Why not improve your professional status with an ACE Award? It’s not too late to apply, though the deadline is fast approaching.

The annual ACE Awards recognize communications excellence in the public relations industry. Winning an Award is a great way to display your hard work in front of an audience of industry pros, give you and your company a competitive edge and strengthen your strategic planning skills. Not to mention it’s a fabulous social event with all your friends and colleagues.

Get started on your entry today and be sure to make that early bird deadline on January 9. Also, don’t forget to pencil April 24 into your busy agendas for this year’s gala!

More information on eligibility, submission requirements and campaign entry categories is available on the CPRS Toronto website.

Important Dates and Deadlines:

Early Bird Entry Deadline: enter at a discounted rate by January 9, 2013

Entry Deadline: January 23, 2013

Leadership Awards Deadline: February 24, 2013

Enter at www.cprstoronto.com!

Questions? Tweet #CPRSACE or e-mail ace@cprstoronto.com

Case study: MAVERICK Public Relations and the People for Good campaign


By Liza Butcher

On April 26, 2012 the Canadian Public Relations Society Toronto (CPRS Toronto) congratulated the PR industry’s elite at the annual Achieving Communications Excellence (ACE) Awards gala.

The ACE Awards gala was full of celebration for winning campaigns, including MAVERICK Public RelationsPeople for Good campaign, which picked up a bronze ACE Award for Best Use of Media Relations in the Under $50K category.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Kirsten Walkom, Senior Consultant at MAVERICK Public Relations, to discover more about the success around the People for Good campaign and the ongoing buzz and excitement spreading throughout Canada.

Can you tell me about your winning campaign? What was the objective and why was it so successful?

Each year MAVERICK Public Relations works with a variety of probono clients, including People for Good, founded by Mark Sherman of Media Experts and Zak Mroueh of Zulu Alpha Kilo.

The People for Good campaign was launched through a multifaceted creative advertising program, beginning with interest-sparking advertisements and week-long whisper campaign targeting citizens and media in major Canadian cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Montréal and Halifax.

MAVERICK Public Relations and the People for Good campaign chose extremely engaging, interactive messages and images, with the purpose of challenging Canadians to be nicer to one another. Some acts of kindness suggested were smiling at a stranger; giving up your seat on the subway, bus or streetcar; while on Facebook, just pick up the phone and give your friend a call; and cutting grass or shoveling snow for your neighbour.

The success of the People for Good campaign was tied directly to the media coverage and creative strategy of the campaign, including outdoor, interactive, print, guerrilla and online advertising, and the engagement, positivity and interest of Canadians to be kinder to one another.

Since the launch of the People for Good campaign, Kirsten has continuously been receiving inquiries about how individuals can start a People for Good campaign within their own towns, communities, schools and other public places.

How did winning an award contribute to the agency’s brand?

MAVERICK Public Relations has had a great year, not only winning a bronze ACE Award for Best Use of Media Relations in the Under $50K category, but also winning an ACE Award for Best Use of Special Events and the International Association of Business Communicator’s (IABC) Small Agency of the Year award.

The success of winning an ACE Award has had a positive impact on the agency’s brand. The awards have helped MAVERICK Public Relations in market differentiation and raising their company’s profile, leading to the growth of existing relationships, helping attract new business and positive acknowledgement by peers and the public relations industry.

What inspired you to submit?

MAVERICK Public Relations knew they had something interesting, unique, thought-provoking and engaging which was proven in their results. The results proved that by utilizing the creative possibilities of the advertising world, social change was possible.

What were the challenges associated with submitting an award?

The process of submitting an award was fairly straightforward and gave the team a great opportunity to reflect on the campaign and really pull all the work they did together into a cohesive submission.

The only challenge mentioned, as many in the industry can relate to, is time can be a scarce resource, however Kirsten and her team are passionate and dedicated to the People for Good campaign and made time to submit.

What were you sure to include in your binder?

MAVERICK Public Relations was sure to include coverage from all mediums, including social, digital, print, and broadcast. In addition, MAVERICK Public Relations included numerous key messages, planning and tactical documents, which confirmed their strategy and how their approach led to the successful results expected by their client.

Also including the binder was Media Relations Rating Points (MRP) reports to give the judges a clearer picture of how MAVERICK Public Relations met their objectives.

How did it feel to receive your award at the gala?

Receiving an ACE Award was exciting and pleasing for the whole agency and the campaign team. “It was like the academy awards,” said Kirsten.

What advice would you give to other entrants?

Take a chance and be positive. It is a time commitment, but is a lot of fun to reflect and celebrate the success of the work done.

Where is my ACE Submission?


By Nicole Laoutaris

You spent hours perfecting your entry for the CPRS 2012 ACE Awards and you made darn sure you got your submission in before the deadline, but what the heck happened to it?

If you’ve ever been riddled with such wonder about where your submission goes after you hit the send button, then read on to assuage your curiosity!

The journey of your ACE submission starts and ends with the judging panel. This panel – a group of more than 20 experienced communications professionals, many of them accredited – engages in a methodical process for both the executive summary and full submission stages.

Stage 1: The Executive Summary Submission

This stage is really an initial screening and allows the judges to narrow down the sheer number of entries before the next, more cumbersome step of reviewing the “big binder” submissions. After you submit your executive summary, it is divided at random to be assessed by two independent judges. For this portion of the process, the judges have a few days to complete the evaluation.

Your final score is then determined by the average of those two evaluations. Once all the numbers are in, those who have met a threshold score of 70 per cent move on to the next round. There is no limit to the number of submissions that can be put through to the next stage.

Stage 2: The Full Submission – “The Big Binder”

The full submission stage is the time and place for you to provide all of the shining evidence of the success of your campaigns for the judges’ consideration. These submission are larger, longer and far more detailed; this is the Big Kahuna.

Imagine this: one room with piles upon piles of huge binders containing budgets, media clippings, photos, research summaries and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears – figuratively, of course.

How many days must it take to evaluate these submissions? 10 days? eight days? It can’t be less than five days, right? Surprisingly, the full submission judging takes place in only a single day.

The judging panel meet all together and then are divided into teams with submissions divided equally amongst them. Everyone randomly selects binders for their team to tackle. At least two judges evaluate each binder and, once again, the average score between them determines the final success level.

Stage 3: Best in Show

Once the full submission scores are compiled, the four highest rated campaigns are judged yet again for two coveted prizes: Best Creative Campaign and Best Overall Campaign. Only the full submission scores are taken into account for Best in Show.

If your submission has risen above the rest, then you will be invited to present your work in person before the judges. This is your opportunity to compete against the other stand-out entries of the year by delivering one last pitch to highlight your campaign’s excellence for the judging panel.

That’s all, folks! Now that you know what goes on behind those judging doors, you can appreciate the daunting task the panel faces each year. Be sure to check out Preparing Your Ace Submission and Your ACE Submission: Round Two! for tips and tricks to make your submission stand out.

And what’s the best way to celebrate all of this hard work? By attending this year’s gala on Thursday, April 26, 2012! Be sure to save the date.

Your CPRS ACE Award Submission: Round Two!


By Robin Smith

CPRS Toronto’s ACE Award judges have been poring over your submissions these past few weeks, choosing the best of the bunch. Did you make the cut this year?

To help ease the daunting task of building your “big binder” submission, we sat down with David Scholz, Vice President at Leger Marketing and ACE Awards Judging Co-Chair, to ask him some questions. We talked with Dave about the greatest submissions he’s seen, the best way to get on a judge’s good side, and the easiest way to miss the mark altogether!

What separates the good and the great?

“Sometimes it’s about taking that same old campaign, and turning it on its ear,” explains David. For our ACE judges, the best way to stand out is creativity, plain and simple (pun intended). When you are looking through your submission, take a step back and look at your campaign. What made it different? How did you take something old, and make it new?

“Creativity doesn’t come from the submission,” says David, “It comes from the interpretation of the work you’ve done.” In your submission, you need to show the imagination that went into your plan. It’s this ingenuity that will make you a winner!

What makes reviewing a submission easier for you?

Research-Analyze-Communicate-Evaluate—Use RACE properly!

“Sit down with the RACE formula and make sure you’ve answered all aspects of it.” Sound simple? Let’s do a quick review.

Research: Show how you used research to explore the situation, your organization’s relationship to it, and the publics involved.

Analyze: This is the strategic element. Establish what the key issues of your campaign were, and explain your goals, objectives, and key messaging.

Communicate: How did you get your message across? What were the tactics you used to connect with target publics?

Evaluate: Most important, evaluate the execution of your campaign to
show your results! Evaluation is key to proving the effectiveness of your campaign.

The RACE formula is crucial to showing what your objectives were, and how well you achieved them. If the RACE components are easily laid out, it makes the judging process significantly easier for David and the other judges, meaning they spend more time appreciating your campaign, and less time trying to decipher it.

What is one way you see applicants blow the “big binder” submission?

For David, the devil is in the details, specifically your entry category. One of the most damning mistakes that he penalizes for can often be avoided simply by reviewing carefully.

“You may need to do some tweaking and fixing to make sure it is clear why a piece is in a certain category,” says David. Did you enter your social media campaign under “Best Use of Communication Tools”, when really it should be under “Best Digital Communications”? You might be in trouble. Wrongly categorizing your entry can skew the judge’s review of it, so be sure to review the ACE Award guidelines first.

As you can see, making your submission shine is all about going back to the basics of good public relations: be creative, plan carefully, and be detail oriented! Second round submissions are due March 9, so get cracking!