Anna Radford, Chief Judge, 40th PRINZ Awards in 2014
I was mulling the degree to which New Zealand’s PR profession had changed over the past 40 years, so I asked Cedric Allan about his team’s winning entry in the inaugural PR awards back in 1974.
In brief, the winning entry was for a campaign to publicise the re-opening of Auckland’s Albion hotel and position it as a more civilised place to drink than the big brewery-operated booze barns that were springing up around the city at the time.
As a result, the Albion became much more than just an old pub – it also spearheaded a new way of thinking about the way we drink at licensed premises. The PR campaign was such a success that on opening day, the crowd queued all the way from the corner of Hobson and Wellesley Streets, down to the waterfront.
Unsurprisingly, there were some aspects that were very different to a modern day PR campaign. For a start, the news media was the main information channel, because back in 1974 there was no Internet, PCs hadn’t been invented and nor had mobile phones or faxes. So forget about apps, email, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. There was only one television channel (mostly in black and white), but a plethora of morning and evening daily newspapers.
Yet there were more points of similarity than there were points of difference. What Cedric and the team did in 1974 was just the same as what this year’s winners have also done: put whatever communication tools are available to best use in a strategic, creative, well planned and well executed manner that engages stakeholders and gets results.
Who knows what kind of communication tools PR practitioners will have in another 40 years’ time? I’m sure that in the year 2054 they will be very different to what we are using today but, whatever the tools may be, it doesn’t really matter. As this year’s winners have demonstrated, it’s all in the planning and execution.
As we can see, PR practice in New Zealand has gone from strength to strength over the past four decades, which bodes very well for the industry’s continued vibrancy and growth for the coming 40 years and beyond.