Entry Guidelines

Entry Guidelines

Each PRemier Award entry is judged in four categories, based on the Four-Step Planning process used for Accreditation in Public Relations (APR): Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation. The judging rubric for the PRemier Awards is drawn from the APR Study Guide, found at www.praccreditation.org. Entrants are encouraged to review the APR Study Guide and use it to guide project planning and execution, as well as the composition of their award entry. Applicants who would like additional help understanding the information below are encouraged to contact their local Accreditation Chair, a colleague who is accredited or a mentor. Below is a breakdown of all four steps, with explanations, examples and APR Study Guide page numbers to reference.

Category: Research

Research is the systematic gathering of information to describe and understand a situation, check assumptions about publics and perceptions, and check the public relations consequences. Research is the foundation for effective strategic public relations planning.  (p.22)

Research can be identified as:

  • primary or secondary
  • formal or informal
  • qualitative or quantitative (p.22)


Research methodologies include:

  • Focus Groups
  • Media analysis
  • Surveys (phone, mail, online, email)
  • Content analysis
  • Interviews (phone, intercept, in-depth)
  • Observations, visits, field reports
  • Complaint reviews
  • Tracking (calls, purchases, hits, actions, placements, etc.) (For additional methodologies, see p.30-32)


Award Marks of Excellence:

  • The purpose of the project is stated.
  • Research methods are mentioned, and identified as primary or secondary research.
  • At least 2 methods of research used for the project are listed.
  • Information is included on how research results affected the creation or implementation of project objectives, strategies or tactics.


Category: Planning

Successful public relations programs require proactive, strategic planning. This planning includes measurable objectives, is grounded in research and is evaluated for return on investment. (p.21) A successful public relations plan will include:

  • Audience identification: Differentiates among publics, markets, audiences and stakeholders ... (p.20)
  • Goals: Statement that spells out the overall outcomes of a program ... often related to one aspect of the mission or purpose. Example: To increase public use of mass transit. (p.59)
  • Objectives: The measurable result that must be achieved with each public to reach the program goal. Objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific) and may establish milestones toward a goal. Example: To increase ridership of public transportation in the Los Angeles metropolitan area by 8 percent among workers earning less than $25,000 per year within the first six months of the communication program. (p.60)
  • Strategies: The overall concept, approach or general plan for a program designed to achieve objectives.


Example: Use communication vehicles that can be understood by a public with limited education to demonstrate that riding public transportation to work is an attractive alternative to driving. (p.62)

Award Marks of Excellence:

  • The four-step process used to plan the project is stated.
  • Target audiences or publics are identified.
  • The entry must identify at least one goal.
  • The entry must identify at least two objectives.
  • All stated objectives meet at least four of these five criteria: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-specific.
  • The entry must identify at least 1 strategy.


Category: Implementation

Implementation is executing the plan and communicating (p.24) with tactics. Tactics are specific ways you will use your resources to carry out your strategy and work toward objectives. (p.47) A budget may include staff time, volunteer energy and out-of-pocket costs (expenses for transportation, images, materials and fabrication). (p.47)

  • Tactics: The exact activities and methods used at the operational level to implement a strategy and reach an objective. Example: Conduct a "Why I'd rather be riding" essay contest. (p.62)
  • Budget:The cost and budgeted time needed to execute the tactics as listed in your plan.


Award Marks of Excellence:

  • A timetable detailing start and end dates of the project.
  • The entry must identify at least 3 tactics used in the project.
  • An explanation is included describing how resources were used to carry out a strategy and work toward objectives.
  • General breakdown of budget is included, with financial figures, specific resource/time allocations, or other costs.
  • At least 2 challenges (internal or external) are described, as well as how they were overcome.


Category: Evaluation

Evaluation is the measured effectiveness of the program against objectives. (p.24) and should …

  1. verify that public relations efforts were effective (because they met objectives)
  2. demonstrate return on public relations investment
  3. provide information for refining future public relations strategies (p.27)

Examples of measurement methods include:

  • Employee surveys
  • Phone interviews
  • Surveys (phone, online, mail, intercept)
  • Content analysis
  • Tracking (calls, purchases, etc.)
  • Media analysis
  • Focus groups (For additional methods, see p.30-32, 141-143,158-159)


Award Marks of Excellence:

  • Evidence is presented of how objectives were exceeded, met, or not met.
  • Specific methods of measurement are listed or described (examples above).
  • At least two ways to improve this project (if it were done again) are presented through “lessons learned”.