Pinnacle Awards

Image of Pinnacle Awards logo

The CPRS Hamilton Pinnacle Awards are now closed.

We look forward to celebrating with you on February 7, 2019. Details to come.

Learn more about the winners of the 2016 Pinnacle Awards!

ABOUT THE PINNACLE AWARDS

What are the Pinnacle Awards?

The CPRS Hamilton Chapter is proud to recognize the exceptional talent of its members. A Pinnacle Award is a prestigious communications award with a long standing history of celebrating and rewarding the best public relations programs and projects from the Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Southwestern Ontario regions. Building on the success of the previous Pinnacle Awards program, the revitalized awards program offers refreshed award categories, levels, and a more efficient submission process to better align with the CPRS National Awards. Let us be the stepping stone between you and national recognition. Win one and set yourself apart from the crowd.

Learn more about the revitalized CPRS Hamilton Pinnacle Awards Program Report 2017 (PDF)

Who can enter to win a Pinnacle Award?

Submissions are welcome from communication professionals across various industries from the Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Southwestern Ontario regions. Communicators from corporations, non-profit organizations, agencies and the public sector have all been successful in winning a Pinnacle Award. There is also an award that recognizes student work and the communication leaders of tomorrow.

NEW! CPRS Hamilton is now accepting Pinnacle Award submissions from non-members.

Each submission must have been completed within a period of two years prior to the entry deadline. A project may have been started prior to the previous two years, however, the evaluation/completion of the project must have been within the last two years.

Entries

Entry Guidelines for CPRS Hamilton Pinnacle Awards (PDF)

All CPRS Hamilton members in good standing as of December 31, 2017 are eligible to enter the Pinnacle Awards. A member is in good standing if dues have be paid in full and received by the administration of the national office or, for student and supplier members, by the Membership Chair no later than December 31, 2017.

Each program or project entered in the Pinnacle Award must have been completed by the CPRS Hamilton member(s)/non-member(s) submitting the entry. Each submission must have been planned, produced and completed within a period of two years prior to the entry deadline. Note: New members may submit their membership application and dues with their submission.

You may enter more than one category. Each Pinnacle Award submission for either a Communication Program or Communication Project must be accompanied by the non-refundable entry fee.

Fees and Payment

The Pinnacle Awards are now open to non-members. Entry fees are:

  • Member Discount Fee $75 + HST
  • Non-Member Fee $150+ HST
  • Student Discount Fee $25 + HST
  • New Student Non-Member Fee $65 + HST

A $75 late fee will apply for submissions entered after November 30. Submissions will be accepted until December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET

Submissions and payments must be sent electronically.  Hand-delivered or mailed submissions will not be accepted. Submissions will not be returned to entrants.

CPRS National Awards of Excellence incentive: A $50 discount code is offered to members who have entered a submission to a local CPRS Society Award.

Deadlines

NEW! Our late fall submission and February Awards event allows you to enhance your submission for nationals based on the feedback provided by our judges.

Submission Deadlines
Submissions must be received on or before Friday, November 30, 2018 at 11.59 p.m. ET. Entries will be accepted until Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET ($75 late fee will apply). Note: Only online submissions will be accepted.

Student Project Award: Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET

*Each submission must have been planned, produced and completed within a period of two years prior to the entry deadline. A project may have been started prior to the previous two years, however, the evaluation/completion of the project must have been within the last two years.

Judging

Submissions are evaluated by an independent panel of judges recognized for their public relations experience and expertise. All submission will be kept confidential. All entries are evaluated according to a point system. In evaluating programs and projects, judges look for specific factors and criteria, and sound communication planning methods. Pinnacle Awards judges reserve the right to recognize only those entries that meet the evaluation criteria.

The new awards system will include three award levels: Gold (85%+), Silver (76-84%) and Bronze (75%). If no submissions meet the 75% mark, there will be no winner. The three award levels do not mean that there will be three winners. If there are two submissions above 85%, however, the strongest project will be awarded gold and the other will receive silver. A Bronze level award will be awarded to the third highest scoring submission above 75%.

Winning entries should show originality, meet clearly stated objectives and show measurable results using the R-A-C-E formula. Judges look for careful planning and documentation of an entry’s success at meeting stated objectives. Judges also consider how well a program or project is conceived and executed, and how appropriate the strategy and objectives are in relation to results achieved.

Submissions are judged on content as a whole and not on a particular contributing element such as budget. This is key since low-budget programs can be equally as or more effective than a costly one. Smaller budgets may require more creativity and greater ingenuity and these elements score high.

NOTE: If an individual has won an award in a previous year for a project such as a newsletter or website, the individual must present the major changes that make the project different from when the award was last presented.

See how you will be marked:

Judges Pinnacle Awards Project Score Sheet (PDF)

Judges Pinnacle Awards Program Score Sheet (PDF)

Become a Sponsor

GOLD – Title Sponsorship — $1,000
• Title Sponsorship
• Prominent recognition in Pinnacle program and on CPRS Web site as Pinnacle sponsor
• Signage and verbal recognition at Pinnacle Awards
• 2 complementary dinners at Pinnacle Awards ($180 value)
• Make short presentation speech (Special Award or purchase of full sponsorship category)
• Announce, introduce and make presentation to award winner
• Photograph of presentation for company/organization’s newsletter, Web, etc.
• Recognition in congratulatory email of all Pinnacle winners to CPRS Hamilton
• Recognition in news release announcing Pinnacle winners
• Recognition in event advertising

SILVER – Sponsorship Recognition — $500+
• Recognition in Pinnacle program and on CPRS Web site as Pinnacle sponsor
• Signage and verbal recognition at Pinnacle Awards
• 1 complementary dinner at Pinnacle Awards ($90 value)
• Announce, introduce and make presentation to award winner
• Photograph of presentation for company/organization’s newsletter, Web, etc.
• Recognition in congratulatory email of all Pinnacle winners to CPRS Hamilton
• Recognition in news release announcing Pinnacle winners

BRONZE – Sponsorship Recognition — $250
• Recognition in Pinnacle program and on CPRS Web site as Pinnacle sponsor
• Signage and verbal recognition at Pinnacle Awards
• Photograph of presentation for company/organization’s newsletter, Web, etc.

SUPPORTING – Sponsorship Recognition – $150
• Recognition in Pinnacle program and on CPRS Web site as Pinnacle sponsor
• Recognition on signage at event
• Recognition on CPRS bulletin advertising the event

Award Sponsorship
Be recognized as an award sponsor. As an award sponsor you will be recognized for your contribution in the Gala Program and announced as the award sponsor during the recipient ceremony. List of awards below:

Communication Programs (available at $250 each or 5 awards for $1,000)
• Communication Management
• Marketing Communications
• Community Relations
• Corporate Identity
• Media Relations
• Issues/Crisis Management
• Government Relations
• Internal Communication
• Student Project Award

Contact Us

Questions?
Contact the CPRS Hamilton Pinnacle Awards Co-Chairs

Janine Ivings, APR
905-845-6601, ext. 3080
pinnacleshamilton@gmail.com

Mary Jo Milhomens, APR
519-822-1260 ext. 3323
pinnacleshamilton@gmail.com

PINNACLE AWARD CATEGORIES

1. External Communications Programs

Awards within this category are presented to honour excellence in overall public relations programs within the profession. All submissions must adhere to the R-A-C-E formula. A communication program can be entered in a maximum of two of the following categories:

External Communications

Programs geared to improve relationships with the community, influence public attitude and behaviour, to generate greater public understanding of the organization, and/or increase corporate or organizational identity with various audiences. The External Communications categories include:

a. Marketing Communications Campaign of the Year
Programs that integrate public relations, marketing and advertising strategies to help market products, services or places to external audiences.

b. Community Relations Campaign of the Year
Community programs (such as philanthropy, volunteerism, partnerships) that enable an organization to build and maintain positive and sustainable relationships with key individuals, groups or organizations within its communities.

c. Advocacy and Social Marketing Campaign of the Year
Advocacy-based communication programs targeted to multiple audiences that focus on sustainable development and economic, social and environmental issues. May include programs where the primary objective is to address and enhance the long-term well-being of specific communities/and or the environment. Entries may include economic revitalization projects and cause-related issues in cultural preservation, education, literacy, health, poverty reduction, employment and the environment.

d. Media Relations Agency Campaign of the Year
Media relations programs should exhibit improvement of an organization’s media profile measured against desired objectives, or the adept management of issues involving media coverage, or the development of a successful media relations campaign created by an agency.

e. Media Relations Non-Agency Campaign of the Year (government, not-for-profit/non-governmental or private sector corporation)
Media relations programs should exhibit improvement of an organization’s media profile measured against desired objectives, or the adept management of issues involving media coverage, or the development of a successful media relations campaign created by a non-agency.

f. Issues/Crisis Management Campaign of the Year
Communication programs that demonstrate proactive planning and preventative action during an extraordinary event. Also, communication programs that show actions taken to address trends, issues and interest group attitudes with major impact on an organization.

g. Government Relations Campaign of the Year
Programs targeted at government bodies and government agencies or programs that recognize the effective use of public affairs to change/enlist public opinion in order to influence government policy and/or regulations.

h. Health Care Campaign of the Year
In complex health care environments, effective communications initiatives can impact patient safety, quality of care and patient satisfaction. This award recognizes excellence in health communications, public relations and engagement. The Campaign must demonstrate a connection to a health care issue or communication need. The award is open to CPRS Health Care Academy members working in, or for, organizations that deliver direct care or health planning services across Canada.

i. Digital Communications Campaign of the Year
A digital communications program that successfully engages with target audiences to create engaged communities, launch/raise awareness of products or manage issues and/or crisis communications.

2. Internal Communications Programs

Internal Communications Campaign of the Year

Programs focusing on internal audiences, such as employees, members, volunteers or franchisees. Such programs should aim at improving relationships between employees and management; a better understanding of the organization’s strategic plan and the importance of their role therein, or both. Such programs can also aim at rallying personnel around the strategic planning or improving employee/management morale, motivation and interest towards the organization. Finally, these programs should focus on explaining new policies or new projects. Programs should employ a variety of communication tools to meet specific goals and objectives or contribute to the realization of long-term organizational goals (improve employee-management relations, increase employee engagement, enhance organizational communication, motivation and awareness, explain new corporate policies or plans). Internal communications programs can be characterized by their ongoing or permanent nature or can be a specific campaign.

Communications Program Entry Work Plan

Download the Entry Guidelines Tip Sheet (PDF)

Each entry must include the following:
1. Entry data and entry fee
2. Entry work plan
3. Support material

The work plan must include the following information:

1. Entrant name(s)
2. Organization name
3. Category
4. Title of entry
5. 50-word description/summary of entry
6. Time period of project/program
7. Names of any participants or suppliers you would like to recognize, should your entry win.

Overall, your entry work plan should be similar to a standard case study and list communication goals and objectives, strategies and evaluation methods. Specifically, your entry submission should include the following information:

Research and analysis — 15%
Situation and needs analysis, clearly stated communication goals and objectives, identification of target publics/ audiences, budget and use or RACE (Research, Analysis, Communication, Evaluation) formula.

Planning and implementation — 35%
Judges look for strategy, innovation, creativity, PR/ communication tools selection, management of human and financial resources, judgment, appropriateness of supporting material and overall quality of execution.

Include your budget. Marks are deducted for those who do not provide details of budget and/or resources.

Results and evaluation — 20%
Submissions are judged for the measurement/ evaluation techniques used, how well the goals and objectives were met and the overall impact of the program or project.

Quality of presentation — 30%
Factors such as overall clarity, creativity, and completeness of your total submission (work plan and support materials) are appraised.
Work Plan Support Materials

To illustrate and support your entry submission, you must also include materials such as, but not limited to, media releases, examples of media coverage, PSAs, publications, collateral materials (posters, brochures, etc.) videos, slides, photographs, artwork, audit surveys or communication program schedules. A maximum of three (3) supporting materials can be uploaded with your submission and must meet the maximum upload size.

3. Communications Projects

Awards within this category honour excellence in the strategic development of materials and individual public relations products that advance the goals and objectives of an overall public relations program. Special emphasis should be placed on the relevance of the initiative to the public relations objectives. A communication project can be entered in a maximum of two of the following categories:

a. Best Special Events Projects
A public relations program for openings, anniversaries and other ceremonies commemorating a one-time event or series of special events or occasions.

b. Best Multi-Media Projects
Communications projects that utilize a range of one or more multi-media tactics to achieve an organizations communication objectives including but not limited to video, video news releases, audio only, podcasting, CD ROMs, or computer generated slide presentations developed for internal or external target audiences.

c. Best Digital and Social Media Projects
A communications project using digital and social media to achieve an organizations communications objectives including but not limited to websites, intranet sites, blogs, webcasts, on-line productions, discussion boards, Facebook and Twitter. The summary should include a rationale for the use of digital and social media, targeted audiences and statistics or other means of quantifiable measurement that meet stated objectives. Screen downloads of the medium being entered as well as the URL must be submitted as part of the entry.

d. Best Writing Projects
This category encompasses original material written for a communications project including: personality profiles, speeches, recurring features or columns, other features such as magazine articles, editorials, advertorials, news articles or news releases. Each award will be judged based on the quality of writing as well as creativity and strategic alignment with their organization’s business goals.

e. Best Internal Publication (print or electronic)
For audiences in-house: staff, executives, volunteers. Submit three consecutive issues of your high frequency, low cost, primarily text-oriented publication. Judges will look for clear, concise, readable copy that exhibits high editorial standards; effective use of colour or graphics; and an overall creative presentation.

f. Best External Publication  (print or electronic)
Printed or electronic material developed for external target audiences, such as newspaper inserts, brochures, promotional campaigns, posters, or magazines. Judges will look for clear, concise, readable copy that exhibits high editorial standards; effective use of colour or graphics; and an overall creative presentation.

g. Best Annual Report  (print or electronic)
Judges will look for clear, concise and imaginative writing, and creative graphics. Judges will consider suitability of photographs or illustration to overall presentation, clarity of presentation for financial and statistical materials, and effective use of colour.

Communications Project Entry Work Plan

Download the Entry Guidelines Tip Sheet (PDF)

Each entry must include the following:
1. Entry data and entry fee
2. Entry work plan
3. Support material

Please include the following information:

1. Entrant name(s)
2. Organization name
3. Category
4. Title of entry
5. 50-word description/summary of entry
6. Time period of project/program
7. Names of any participants or suppliers you would like to recognize, should your entry win.

Overall, your entry work plan should be similar to a standard case study and include the following:

Need — 5%
Explain what need the project filled for your organization or client.

Goals and objectives —15%
Clearly state goals and objectives, identification of target publics/audiences and budget. It is important to include a budget in your submission.

Execution — 40%
Judges look for innovation, creativity, management and effective utilization of resources, judgment and overall quality of the tactics.

Results —10%
Submissions are judged for the results of the tactics, and how the goals and objectives were achieved.

Overall work plan — 30%

4. Student Award (Program or Project)

This award recognizes student excellence in the public relations field. Full- or part-time students or student teams, enrolled in a recognized community college or university PR program in 2017 or 2018 are eligible to enter. Your two-page summary (school assignments) must clearly illustrate the correct and full use of the R-A-C-E formula highlighting

  • What RESEARCH you did
  • How you ANALYZED the research
  • What COMMUNICATIONS you put in place, including objectives, audiences, and tactics
  • How you EVALUATED the project or would EVALUATE this project/program

If you did not complete all steps of the R-A-C-E formula, please explain how you would incorporate R-A-C-E as part of your outcomes.

Entry fee for this category is $25 per submission.The Student member submission fee is $25 + HST. The Student non-member submission fee is $65 + HST.  Learn more about the Student CPRS Hamilton membership. Entries must be received by Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET.

WRITING AN AWARD ENTRY

Winning insights from a communications leader

Senior PR practitioner and winner of a number of Pinnacle Awards, Carleen Carroll, shares her insights  and tips on successful entry-writing.

Entering and winning validates yourself as a PR practitioner

Being evaluated by your peers and receiving the professional recognition that you excel at what you do is very rewarding. Beyond that, it’s not all about winning – it’s about challenging yourself to select your best piece of work and to have the courage/confidence to have it reviewed and be willing to accept the feedback so that you can become an even better public relations practitioner. Finally, it is about demonstrating the value of the public relations profession. IF you win, you can demonstrate that value to your boss, your board, your clients and others.

Practical tips for success in achieving a Pinnacle Award

Quick Tip: Print the Tips for a Successful submission (PDF)

Picking a Category
It is important to choose the appropriate category for your submission. A communications project or program can only be entered in a maximum of two categories. However additional submissions and fees are applicable to every category you enter.

In selecting your category, examine your communications plan. Who was the audience? What were the objectives? What were your tactics? The answers to these questions should help guide you in selecting the right category fit, after you’ve carefully read the category descriptions. Judges will not move entries into another category.

Submission
Your three-page executive summary needs to follow the R-A-C-E formula (Research, Analysis, Communications, and Evaluation) and identify what kinds of primary and secondary research you undertook and what your analysis told you about the communications program’s goals and objectives. Next consider your communications plan and the tactics you used and how they tied back to the goals and objectives. Lastly, determine what measurement tool(s) you used and what your evaluation told you about meeting those goals. You will be expected to cover each of these areas, including the budget used for staff time, third party services like printing, consulting fees, etc.

Budget
You must include budgetary information in your submission as it is an integral part of the communications program. If you are not able to provide exact figures (e.g. for confidentiality reasons) we suggest that you speak in broader terms on how the budget was applied to the program.

Please include not only all out of pocket expenses (e.g. third party charges for printing, advertising, consulting fees, venue rental, etc.) but also for your hidden costs (e.g. staff time). If you secured sponsorships or partnerships (including in-kind), identify the value of their contributions.

Ideally, your budget should be identified in your three-page summary with a breakdown or detail provided in an appendix.

Judges want to know that practitioners are aware of the true costs of their programs and are not comparing budget amounts of submissions. Your submission will be judged without a budget but it will lose marks for not providing this important element.

Results
The success of the program is evaluated by measuring the outcomes against the original stated objectives. Any qualitative and/or quantitative research done to evaluate your program or project should be described in your Evaluation section. The use of CPRS’ Media Relations Rating Points (MRP)® system for the evaluation of media relations activities is encouraged. However, programs that do not use the MRP® system should include an evaluation in addition to total stories generated, such as story tone and/or delivery of key messages and/or evaluation against program objectives, etc.

  1. Make sure you have strong SMART communication objectives that tie back to the corporate objectives and that evaluation supports the objectives.
  2. Try to have evaluation based on outcomes rather than outputs i.e. number of visits to a website while a good thing is not an outcome. Demonstrating that public relations helped to change behaviour is a fantastic outcome.
  3. A lot of people say they “had no budget and a budget is required.” Think outside the box! Campaigns can run on a shoe string budget, but there is always some cost (human resources, in-kind support, etc.)
  4. One last thing – although it’s hard to get the submission into three pages, reducing the font to the size of an ant isn’t going to get anyone anywhere with the graders. No less than 10 pt font please.

Top 3 benefits of winning a Pinnacle Award

  1. Recognition: These awards are a tremendous source for profile and prestige. A Pinnacle Award can help raise your profile across industries and is proof of the communications specialist you are. Industry professionals like to call it, the Pinnacle Proof.
  2. Exposure:  Not only are winners showcased at our Pinnacles Awards event, but also in the CPRS Hamilton e-newsletter that goes out to hundreds of CPRS members. Exposure spreads online on the CPRS Hamilton website and with mentions across CPRS social media networks including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Be sure to connect with us to be part of the Pinnacles conversation.
  3. Build Your Brand: Share this win with your employees, customers, potential clients, colleagues, related industry associates, media and more. This recognition can help to build trust and confidence in your work, acknowledge your team or build your business. Your company and personal brand can reap the rewards.

October 11 Pinnacle Awards Webinar Presentation

Missed our October 11 Lunch and Learn webinar? Then we encourage you to watch our How to make a good submission great! presentation to learn how to make your submission award-winning! Hear from past Pinnacle Award winners and judges on what to do, and what not to do, as you plan your award submission. View and download a PDF version of the presentation here. 

A special thanks to our panel: David Rowney, APR, FCPRS, Christine Szustaczek, APR, MCM and Alexandria Anderson for sharing their time and expertise. Appreciation also goes to CPRS National for hosting this event on our behalf.

Enter online.

Check out the Pinnacle Awards Entry Guidelines (PDF)

Submit your program or project: Pinnacle Awards Online Entry Form

You must have an account to submit for an award. Create your account here.

Submission Deadlines:
Submissions must be received on or before Friday, November 30, 2018 at 11.59 p.m. ET. Entries will be accepted until Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET ($75 late fee will apply). Note: Only online submissions will be accepted.

Student Project Award: Monday, December 10, 2018 at 6 p.m. ET.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available. Please contact us at pinnacleshamilton@gmail.com for more information.