Celebration and recognition: the real value of awards

More than just shiny baubles, PHD's Stuart Bailey argues that awards are physical representations of effort and teamwork, and keep the industry thriving through hard times

At the onset of the pandemic, when the world began to slide into disarray, we sent all our clients a strategic point of view on the importance of ‘keeping the lights on’.

At a time where fighting for budgets seemed more challenging than ever, our advice armed clients with the evidence as to why investing in marketing through the pandemic was of strategic importance to the continued success of their businesses.

In that moment, time and effort spent on agency marketing and awards seemed out of the question. But then we realised, were we not keeping the lights on ourselves?

There is a spectrum of opinion on awards and it is often a very personal and divisive topic.

There’s more to award wins than shiny trophies

But beyond their ability to market, in my opinion awards are important on many levels. They can recognise the efforts of a leader, the rainmaker who brings in new business or an individual who is simply great at promoting themselves.

However, as the great Michael Jordon once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”. Surely now more than ever, having something to galvanise and celebrate the entire team should be treasured?

For me, the Mumbrella Media Agency of the Year award is just that: a celebration of all the amazing work the team has done, recognition for their tireless commitment to PHD and our clients, and a galvanising agent to bring the whole team together.

It was a slightly surreal experience watching it virtually, with a half empty office, rather than the thrill of the win at the awards night followed by the inevitable celebration with the whole team after.

That said, despite a slightly surreal experience, my main feeling is one of pride.

Pride in our Melbourne team who brought home the first local virtual pitch in Spotlight Retail Group.

Pride that our clients gave us our highest satisfaction scores ever during the pandemic.

Pride in the amazing work around diversity, equality and inclusion, and flexibility our people team continued to lead.

Pride in making the Australian Financial Review’s most innovative companies list for our work alongside being recognised as an ABA100 Winner in The Australian Business Awards 2020 (Employer of Choice).

Some may not value awards and will not agree with my sentiment. But for me, this letter goes out to those who kept the lights on during our toughest year yet.

To our fearless industry partners and competitors who have helped keep our industry as vibrant as ever, to our brave and supportive client partners who pivoted their marketing plans in the thick of it, but most of all, to the wonderful collection of individuals at PHD who have held each other up – thanks for keeping the lights on, this one is for you.

Stuart Bailey is managing director of PHD.


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