The Golden ARC Awards Program consists of two divisions, the “Campaigns Division” and the “Tactics Division.” Within each division, individual categories exist. Judging criteria varies based on which division is entered.

Campaigns Division

The Golden ARC Awards will be awarded to the best corporate, non-profit or organizational teams, in recognition of achieving public relations objectives using exceptional skill, creativity and resourcefulness.

One 1st Place Golden ARC Award will be presented for the best campaign in each category, but only to those that meet all of the judging criteria and meet the minimum point requirement. Judges reserve the right not to award the Golden ARC to entries that do not meet judging criteria. Judges may present a Merit award to additional exceptional entries in each category. Merit awards may be presented to the top campaign in any category that includes information for all criteria, but that do not meet minimum point requirements; or other outstanding entries in any category for which there is a first place winner, but other entries deserve recognition.

Must include work conducted the year prior to the contest entry year

Judging criteria are as follows:

  • Insights, Analysis and Research (up to 10 points)
  • Planning (up to 10 points)
  • Execution (up to 10 points)
  • Evaluation/Results (up to 10 points, weighted for behavioral outcomes and alignment with target audience objectives)

Entry and judging guidelines and tips:

Judging primarily will be based on a two-page description, which will include:  Summary, Research, Planning, Execution and Results.  The entry will be formatted for 8.5” x 11” printing, with using a legible font no smaller than 10 point.   Bullet points may be used.

Summary:  General description of the campaign, including the overarching goal, what the campaign was designed to achieve, and what was actually achieved.

Insights, Analysis and Research:  Description of the research and analysis techniques used in developing the plan.  Both primary and secondary research techniques may be used.  Primary research includes original research sponsored and conducted by the organization, and may include focus groups, in-depth interviews, data and analytics, surveys, and other techniques.  Secondary research includes searches or uncovering both internal and external sources for information and data.  Secondary techniques may include internet searches or Web-based searches; industry reports: citations of academic or industry data and syndicated surveys or studies; industry reports; and in-depth environmental scans and analysis.

Basic “account homework,” such as updating customer or media lists; generic client meeting input; or over-generalizations (“research shows that millennials are heavy social media users”) will not be considered as insights, analysis or research.  For maximum points, the entry also must clearly state how the insights, analysis and research effort contributed to a better understanding or quantification of the specific target audience and its knowledge or awareness, what it things or believes, or how and why it behaves in certain ways; a deeper understanding of the challenge or problem that the campaign is addressing; metrics used in objective-setting; or strategy formulation.

Planning:  The planning section should describe the planning effort but must include at least one complete and measurable communications objective, and at least one strategy that complements or supports the objectives. Each communications objective must include:  specific target audience; nature of the intended change – know, think, feel, do (do, not do or let your organization do); starting metrics; goal for ending metrics (how you are measuring the change); and time frame.  A presumptive “0” may be used as a starting metric if another starting point is not known.

Remember, a communications objective is an end-state with a given target audience.  Confusing objectives (the end results of what you want to achieve with the target audience) and strategies (overarching means to achieve the objective) or tactics (activities that help achieve the objectives or support the strategies) will result lower scores.  Objectives or benchmark metrics on execution of tactics, projects, strategies or other “outputs” will not be scored as highly as objective metrics on target audience outcomes or outgrowths.

For maximum points, the strategies must support or align with the objectives and, similarly, the tactics should support the strategies and objectives.

Execution:  Explain the activities and tactics, and flow of execution in general terms.  Call attention to any unique creative approaches.  Also describe any challenges and difficulties, and any adjustments that needed to be made because of situational changes.

Evaluation:  Clearly express the degree to which the campaign impacted on the target audience and helped meet the objectives metrics for that audience.  How did the campaign influence achieve the intended change with the audience, in terms of know, think, feel, do (do, not do or let your organization do).

Explain what means or methods were used to evaluate the campaign, based on the objectives.   If media measures (i.e. impressions, gross impressions, qualified impressions, etc.) are included in the evaluation, they must be linked or correlated to audience objectives metrics to receive enough points to qualify for an award.  Evaluation metrics on execution of tactics, projects, strategies or other “outputs” will not be scored as highly as evaluations of metrics on the effect the campaign had on target audiences.

BudgetHaving a budget framework helps give context to an entry, but it is not a requirement. (Example: cost less than $50,000, more than $50,000, $100,000-$250,000.)

Tactics Division

The Golden ARC Awards recognize excellence in specific strategy or tactical execution, or for specific campaign components or elements.

Must include work conducted the year prior to the contest entry year

Entries will be judged on:

  • Planning:  Well established objectives, clear and appropriate audience analysis, appropriate for target audience (up to 10 points)
  • Creativity (up to 20 points)
  • Execution – Content, quality, technical excellence (up to 20 points)
  • Results (up to 10 points) Judging will be weighted for content, execution and quality, though favorable consideration will be given for achieving results called for in the project objectives.

Two-Page Summary: A concise summary no longer than two pages must be uploaded as a PDF. Judges will evaluate the tactic on four key areas — planning/content, creativity/quality, technical excellence and results. (Media relations categories are not judged on technical excellence.) Within these areas, the summary should include measurable objectives, target audiences, budget and any other specific information requested in the individual category. Results — qualitative, quantitative or both — should provide evidence of how the stated measurable objectives were met, and how the entry impacted the success of a broader or ongoing program. The two-page summary should have no smaller than a 10-point typeface and one-inch margins.

Judges may award one 1st Place Golden ARC Award in each category, and may also present merit awards for other outstanding entries.

The Golden ARC de Excellence Award

The Golden ARC de Excellence Award will be awarded to the best all-around entry in the campaigns division.