PRINZ heaps praise on the country’s top communicators

The New Zealand Transport Agency was handed the Supreme Award at the 36th Annual Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) Awards, with Janette Wise and the NZTA team taking home top honours for their communications around the Tauranga Harbour Link, a campaign that spanned three years and relied on the public to champion its success.

The sustained public relations activity helped to deliver one of New Zealand’s largest roading projects while maintaining the strong relationships NZTA has fostered with Bay of Plenty residents.

PRINZ also introduced a new award for 2010, the Workbase Literacy Award for a campaign’s recognition of the audience’s literacy, language or numeracy levels, which went to Canterbury District Health Board and Convergence Communications for their work in lessening the effects of Swine Flu in Canterbury.

The awards featured 12 categories, which ranged from corporate and marketing communications to pro bono and not-for-profit PR campaigns, and PRINZ national president Graeme Purches says the entries from the NZTA and Professional Public Relations, who won or were highly commended for nine awards between them, were particularly strong.

“This year has also seen the emergence of many new organisations keen to pit their communications against the best in New Zealand, along with the usual contenders who have all made an incredibly strong showing,” he says.

Award-winning entries reflect sound public relations and communication objectives, demonstrate high standards of performance, production and presentation and represent the pinnacle of PR practice in New Zealand.

Wally Thomas from Waitakere City Council was inducted as PRINZ Fellow on the night, after 11 years of service to the organisation. He was the only Fellow to be inducted this year.

As director of public affairs for Waitakere City Council, Thomas leads a highly regarded team of some 20 professionals – from PR practitioners and community engagement specialists to arts advisors, environmental education officers and event marketers. He reports directly to the chief executive and sits at the council’s top table – the senior executive team.

Once an award-winning journalist, Thomas started his career in public relations in 1997 when Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey hired him as his mayoral executive and chief of staff. And since then he has both hired and mentored communications graduates, providing invaluable support and a major contribution to the profession.

While many judges avoid the limelight, Judge Andrew Becroft, an active, articulate, passionate and persistent advocate for youth justice, is prepared to front-foot his views on improving the way we deal with youth crime – and thereby reducing adult criminal offending. And, as a result, he was awarded the Communicator of the Year title.

Becroft has taken on the delivery of a complex, perhaps counterintuitive and unpopular message which he fronts with conviction at events and to the news media. His message, that jail and boot camps turns young offenders into better criminals, which necessitates a new approach, is not an easy sell, especially in an age of shortening sound bites.

His provocative and descriptive language, with lines like “How to turn young offenders into adult criminals in 10 easy steps”, leads his communications. And he and focuses early intervention, community involvement, interdepartmental co-operation and drug and alcohol programmes.

You can check out some glamour shots from the awards night here.

And the PRINZ Awards category winners are:

Supreme Award

Janette Wise of NZTA for the Tauranga Harbour Link communications

Corporate Public Relations

Emily Davies and Frederika Walls of Professional Public Relations for New World’s Sponsorship of Netball New Zealand and the Silver Ferns.

Marketing Public Relations

Jeanette Colman and John MacDonald of the University of Canterbury for the UC Philanthropic Bond

Government or Quasi-government Public Relations

Janette Wise of NZTA for the Tauranga Harbour Link communications

Limited Budget Public Relations

Kristie Penwarden and Mary-Louise Dare of Professional Public Relations for the Durex Valentine’s Day Survey Campaign

Not for Profit Public Relations

Heather Claycomb of HMC Communications for the A Piece of NZ campaign

Special Event/Project (joint winners)

Suzanne McNamara of Convergence Communications for Splore 2010

Victoria Murray-Orr of eveNZ for the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games

Sustained Public Relations Programme

Tim Marshall and Rob Warner of Communication by Design for Operation Paramount: To Become New Zealand’s Leading Franchisor

Sally Logan-Milne Young Practitioner of the Year

Leah Evans of Icebreaker NZ

Crystal Clear Literacy Award

Michele Hider and Rachel Solotti of Canterbury District Health Board with Erin Jamieson of Convergence Communications for Reducing The Impact of Swine Flu on Canterbury

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