Tips for Writing an Award-Winning Bernays Entry

When considering entering the Bernays Awards, it can be helpful to assign a project leader to oversee and manage documentation, preparation of the entry and writing of the summary. There are two categories in which to submit entries: Silver (Campaigns) and Bronze (Tactics).

Upon picking your submission category (or categories), make sure to allocate enough time to put together a winning submission. Some part of your entry must have been executed between the dates of July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, and it is easier to enter a project that it completed or near completion, as you will be better able to document your evaluation and show how the entry reached your goals and objectives.


Writing Your Silver Bernays Summary

A Silver Bernays award recognizes a complete public relations program/campaign, including research, planning, execution and evaluation that meet the highest standards of performance in the field, and the 5,500 characters summary is the single most important component of a Silver Bernays entry.

Your summary should be able to win the award for you. Make it succinct and engaging. Make sure it outlines your key objectives, and make sure those objectives are measurable. Show how your research drove planning and execution. Directly tie your results to your objectives. And don’t forget to include your budget! Use the following questions to help you prepare a strong summary (and the rest of your entry).


  • What prompted the research? Was it in response to an existing problem, or does it examine a potential problem?
  • What type of research did you use — primary, secondary or both? Primary research involves original research, including focus groups, interviews and surveys. Secondary research involves searching existing resources for information.
  • How did the research help define or redefine the audience(s) or the situation?


  • What was the plan in general terms?
  • How did the plan correlate to the research findings?
  • What were the specific, measurable objectives of the plan?
  • Who were the target audiences?
  • What was your budget?


  • How did the activities flow? What was your timeline?
  • What were the key tactics?
  • Were there any difficulties encountered? If so, how were they handled?
  • Were nontraditional public relations tactics used?


  • What were your results?
  • How did you evaluate your results? What methods did you use?
  • How did the results compare to the specific, measurable objectives identified in the planning section?
  • How well do the results reflect original strategy and planning?

Pulling Together Your Backup Materials 

It’s important to provide backup materials to your summary. It will give the judges a chance to see your real work and how you translated your plan into action. If you talk about something in your summary, include the documentation for it. Create an outline for research, planning, execution and evaluation. Keep track of supporting documents to pull from the summary. Include headers for judging categories. Make it easy for judges to find the essential elements of a winning entry, but don’t overdo it. You don’t need to include every email or every news clip, just include the most important elements to telling your campaign’s story. Here’s a list of possible items to include:

  • Research: focus group findings, stakeholder interview notes, internet research, survey/study results
  • Planning: PR plans, timeline, emails, notes from brainstorming sessions
  • Execution: press releases, media kits, social media pages, collateral (fact sheets, FAQs), pitches, storyboard with screen shots
  • Evaluation: feedback received, media coverage secured, number of attendees, social media analytics

Writing Your Summary

A Bronze Bernays Award recognizes outstanding public relations tactics, consisting of individual items or components of programs or campaigns. Exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness are reflected in each award. Once again, it’s all about the summary. Judges evaluate the entries on four key areas — planning/content, creativity/quality, technical excellence and assessment/results.

Your summary should include specific, measurable objectives, target audiences, budget and any other specific information requested in the individual category (hint: be sure to reread your category description when you get ready to write).

Remember that two areas of judging are worth more points, and include more information in each of those areas. Creativity – why is your work unique? Why did you choose this campaign or tactic? Why was it the best way to reach or influence your target audience? Technical – what elements did you use to set your work apart? How does this fit in with, and support, your more comprehensive strategic plan?

Make sure to bring up your results — qualitative, quantitative or both — to provide evidence of how the objectives were met and how the entry impacted the success of your broader public relations program.

Pulling Together Your Backup Materials 

When looking at tactics, it’s important to keep your entry straightforward and to the point. Give the judge a good overview of your organization, issue and approach, but don’t get lost in the weeds. Provide a sampling of supporting materials, not every single thing. Judges are reading through a lot of entries. If you mention a particular piece or clip, include it. If a certain piece really shows off your great work, include it. (Hint: reread your category description to see what you must include).

Review Your Entry 

Now that you’ve put in all that work, don’t let it go to waste – proof your work! Reread your summary – is it concise? Is it understandable? Review the category description and judging criteria again to make sure you’re meeting all the requirements. Remember that judges aren’t from San Diego – remove any jargon and explain anything they may need to know about the local market.

When you’re ready to submit your award entry, here’s a checklist of the materials and information you’ll need handy: 

  • Award Type – Silver or Bronze
  • Award Category – Sub-category name within the Silver or Bronze award type
  • Summary content – No more than 5,500 characters with spaces for Silver awards and no more than 2,750 with spaces for Bronze awards – pasted into the entry field
  • Supplementary material file(s), no larger than 50Mb Entrant name/organization name (For example: Williamson PR and Lemons Juice Co.)
  • Entry title (For example: Mobile Green Juice Campaign Helps Lemons Juice Co. Take Over the World)
  • Entrant logo(s) – 2 maximum
  • Results-oriented photos or images – 2 maximum
  • Award Engraving – Entry title with 60-character limit including spaces (For example: Lemons Juice Takes Over the World with Green Juice Campaign)
  • Award Engraving – Entrant name/organization name with 60-character limit including spaces (For example: Williamson PR and Lemons Juice Co.)

Review the complete 2017 Bernays Awards Call for Entries for more information. Good Luck!