The SABRE Awards, produced by PRovoke Media, have traditionally been about engagement, credibility, and relationship building. In 2021, these areas of expertise are more important than ever as it’s important to understand the need to adapt, empathize and act. 

SourceCode Communications’ Managing Partner, Rebecca Honeyman, recently elected to PR Council’s 2021 Board of Directors had the opportunity to judge this year’s 2021 North American SABRE Awards. Because SourceCode was founded on the ideals of telling stories that make people feel something, it warmed Honeyman’s heart to feel this was a theme throughout this year’s awards. Below, we’ve highlighted some key takeaways she learned from  judging.  

Dial Up The Humanity

A testament to a shifting industry, it was clear that the industry’s work is leaning more heavily on multi-layered stories with meaningful, purpose-driven campaigns. With the onset of a global pandemic, agencies and organizations alike had to nail down the validity of their ideas. Ultimately, COVID related restrictions meant that agencies couldn’t ameliorate a weaker brand promise with a fun experience, especially not on top of financial limitations and societal unease.

The campaigns that got it right kept it simple. The ones who understood that you don’t need a sizable budget or new-wave experiential marketing to master the idea that your purpose is everything. Recognizing that everyone has shared experiences, and breaking down your ideas to a granular, authentic level resonates with every audience and it was a common factor for many of the frontrunner entries.

But it’s also important to realize that one size doesn’t fit all — many campaigns broke it down and spoke to specific, key audiences through their campaigns, showing a level of care and attention that has not been as evident in previous years. Connecting with your consumers, customers and clients means the world beyond just sales and clicks.

A Moment of Change

As important as it is to keep it simple, agencies also need to keep it authentic. This year, it was evident that brands were digging into their purpose, into why they were there and what they stood for. There was an industry shift, acknowledging a future in which provocative campaigns aren’t just a band-aid to stick to your brand in order to present progressive front. Instead, they’re a real moment of open authenticity that aligns with your mission and day-to-day values. 

And consumers are keeping track. There’s no longer an opportunity to cover up and say your brand is anything it’s not. Consumers are wise, and have been paying attention to what is happening in the world around us. They increasingly buy based on purpose, because they agree with what you’re selling and they feel connected to your brand’s morals and mission. 

The future is always unknown, but if the 2021 awards left us with one thing, it was optimism. Optimism presented by brands understanding and utilizing the weight of responsibility they carry daily. Optimism fueled by the pressure of getting it wrong, but the possibility of change by getting it right. Optimism powered by shared human experiences. 

From this moment forward, agencies and organizations will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with PR, and the power of storytelling. You’re not going to want to miss this unveiling. 

The winners of the 2021 North American SABRE Awards will be announced May 11, 2021 through a virtual ceremony. Tune in, and share a moment.