Award-Winning Tips for Mercury Awards Success

It’s the last week before your SCPRSA Mercury and Silver Wing entries are due. You’re either ready to submit or you’re in a complete panic about where to start. Trust me – I’ve been there!

The deadline for this year’s entries is noon on Friday, Feb. 1. We’re pleased to be using OmniContests as our awards platform again this year. The online system makes it much easier for you to compile the elements of your entry and to submit at your leisure.

How do I decide what to enter?

  • To start, carefully review the call for entries document which outlines the categories, rules, judging guidelines and specifications for your entry. If you’ve entered the SCPRSA competition before, you’ll quickly note that we have many new categories this year. This follows a thorough review of PRSA’s national Silver and Bronze Anvil competitions to bring our competition in line with the national standards. The new categories reflect the most current types of campaigns and tactics in our rapidly-changing and constantly-evolving profession.
  • Next, make a list of your prospective entries. Think of the best work you did all year. Go back through your project lists, talk to your team, and identify the work that really made a difference. The work must have been completed between January 1 and December 31, 2018.
  • Then, go to the call for entries and connect these projects to one of the categories. You may find that you have a campaign (Mercury entry) for which you can also enter multiple tactics (Silver Wing entries).
  • Before you start writing, carefully review the judging criteria. Your entry will be judged on the four-step process of research, planning, execution and evaluation.

How do I write an award-winning entry?

  • Start with research. Did you do primary or secondary research? Do you have any data that helped you make decisions about how you would approach the project? This doesn’t have to be a formal research study, but you do need to demonstrate that you looked at past work in this area, built upon lessons learned and based your planning on that research.
  • Then, move to planning. Here, the most important component of your entry will be the measurable objectives. This is truly critical. Judges hone in on this aspect of the judging criteria. If you don’t have measurable objectives, your entry won’t score well.
  • Next, you have your execution, or implementation. Here, you want to be as detailed as you can within the page limit of the entry. Explain exactly how you implemented your campaign or your tactic. Address any challenges that you overcame. Include your budget! I’ve seen a lot of entries dinged for not including a budget.
  • The final component is evaluation. If you don’t have strong results, you don’t have a strong entry. You need to be able to demonstrate tangible results from your campaign or your tactic. Here, you want to include the numbers. And perhaps most important, you need to connect your evaluation back to those measurable objectives that you outlined in the planning section. Judges want to see the continuity from planning to evaluation.
  • Ok, so now that you’ve assembled all of your information to meet the judging criteria, you’re going to start writing. Here, I wouldn’t worry just yet about the page lengths. You really just want to get everything down. Once you have it all in front of you, it’s much easier to edit.
  • Mercury Award entries can’t be longer than two pages. Silver Wing entries can’t be longer than one page. We do ask you not to make the font smaller than a 10-point type with 1-inch margins.

Ready to submit? Here’s what you do next.

  • Visit (Please note that the “M” is case-sensitive.) Here, you will setup your profile and submit all of your entry materials.
  • Here are the documents you need for your upload:
    • Summary: The one-page summary for Silver Wing Awards or the two-page summary for Mercury Awards. This should contain all of the information the judges need to determine if you met the criteria.
    • Supporting materials: up to 10 files that expand upon things you mentioned in the summary and offer documentation of your success. Be discerning. You don’t have to include EVERY media hit you got – include the best ones. You can include photos, documents, more detailed budgets, and more.
    • Image: Provide an image that depicts your campaign or tactic. This is what we will use in the banquet presentation if your entry receives an award. This can be your company logo, a photo from an event, an image of a collateral piece, or something else.
    • Banquet Description: Give us the elevator speech for your campaign or tactic. The 75-word description is what we use in the banquet script as you’re walking up to accept your award. It should summarize your program and give the audience a snapshot of what it was all about. One tip here – if you’re entering multiple components of the same campaign, don’t repeat the same description for every entry. The audience doesn’t want to hear the same thing over and over again!
    • Trophy: Let us know how you want your trophy engraved should you win. You do not need to include the entry title or the category name. We automatically include those. Provide us the name of the person or company whose name should be engraved on the trophy. You also have the option of providing engraving instructions on any duplicate trophies you may wish to order should your entry be selected as a winner.
    • Payment: Finally, you’re going to submit payment. SCPRSA members pay $55 per entry and non-members pay $85 per entry. We’d prefer that you pay with a credit card through OmniContests. If your company requires you to pay by check, please make it payable to SCPRSA and mail to P.O. Box 513, Columbia, SC 29202. It must be postmarked by February 1, 2019. If you decide to pay by check, you’ll mark the “pay offline” option in OmniContests.


We will notify the winners before the banquet so that you can make plans to attend. Expect to hear from me on or around March 15 and to join us in Charleston for our awards banquet on Thursday, April 11. Visit our events page for more details about the banquet, the half-day professional development workshop on April 12 and hotel reservations.

Questions about any of this? Email kelly (at) davispublicrelations (dot) com.

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