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Charlie’s Anvils: The father of Philippine Public Relations and his guide to award winning campaigns

There is a saying in the PR community that your career will never be complete until you’ve won an Anvil Award.

Carlos A. Agatep, has won 137.

But to say he is an expert would still be an understatement as Mr. Agatep is considered one of the pioneers—to some even the Father of  Philippine Public Relations—and his 59 gold Anvils, 71 silvers Anvils, three grand Anvils, three platinum Anvils, and one special Anvil for excellence in brand building and reputation management—easily backs it up.

The CEO of GRUPO AGATEP has won the Anvil awards for 41 companies. He’s been winning Anvils way before I was born, and continues to do so as I’m entering my second decade in the industry.

I don’t have a journalism/communications degree, nor have I taken any courses that is why even though I’ve worked with a lot of PR companies for most of my life, I’m still reluctant to call myself a PR man. I’d rather tell everyone that I’m a publicist or media relations person—unlike a lot of people claim nowadays.

That is why his new book “Winning the Anvils—A Guide for Professionals in the Trade and Students Entering It” comes at a most opportune time when a lot of people think PR is just about inviting people to an event.

The book properly presents detailed summaries of how an award PR plan is developed, complete with objectives, target publics, and how each campaign is executed.

It’s a much needed guide for students and professionals, especially now that anybody who has a contact with the marketing people of a brand would call themselves a freelance PR—(much like how a lot of people who blogs  but just copy/ paste press releases call themselves a journalists– no wonder we have so many FAKE NEWS).

PR 101

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization. It may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.

The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.

Public relations specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organisation’s target audience, the media, relevant trade media, and other opinion leaders. Common responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing news releases and other content for news, working with the press, arranging interviews for company spokespeople, writing speeches for company leaders, acting as an organization’s spokesperson, preparing clients for press conferences, media interviews and speeches, writing website and social media content, managing company reputation (crisis management), managing internal communications, and marketing activities like brand awareness and event management.

So if you can’t come up with a PR plan or can’t even write a good copy of a Press Release, you might want to stop referring to yourself as a PR.

Funny thing, is that I think the people who are most likely to skip this part are the ones who are really clueless about what they claim to be doing.

THE ANVILS

Presented annually by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), the ANVIL is the symbol of Excellence in Public Relations. It is awarded to outstanding public relations programs, tools and, now, practitioners after careful screening by select PR professionals and judging by a distinguished multi-sectoral jury. It is one way to monitor the continuous progress and maturity of the country’s PR industry and ensure that it shapes the society for the better.

The Anvil Award whether it is gold or silver is not just a trophy it is a tribute of distinction, an accolade bestowed by the PRSP for exceptional PR programs and tactics. Each anvil entry is painstakingly screened, weighed and debated by some 30 to 40 jurors who are chosen for their competence and integrity.

How hard is it to win an Anvil?  In one particular year where there were more than 400 entries, only a little more than 50% made it to the winners list. Such a mortality rate is not unusual as the PRSP screeners/members saw to it that only the “best” would make it to the jurors’ final scrutiny.

“In the lottery of life, you need a ticket to win. But to win an Anvil Award from the PRSP, you need to present a well-documented public relations program or tool that has solved some of the country’s most critical issues including public safety, economy, education, health, environmental protection, or the preservation of our cultural and historical heritage,” Mr. Agatep writes.

Most winners of the Anvil Awards, whether they are in community relations or public service categories, are programs that help people in some way. The winning programs are usually successful case studies in the areas of community relations, institutional programs, special events, public service, public affairs, marketing communications for new services, established services, new products or established products, crisis communications, internal communications and investor relations.

TRIVIA: The first Grand Anvil was given to the Manila Times in 1963 for its program Operation Quick Count as the program greatly minimized anomalies during the 1961 presidential elections, which was won by then Vice President Diosdado Macapagal over incumbent President Carlos Garcia.

Browsing through his book I found a lot of familiar campaigns that I came across while in school or has made an impact in the consciousness of Filipinos.

Masagana 99, the first Anvil of Agatep, for example, was discussed when I was in elementary school, then there’s Kaya Mo Kid from Jollibee, Intel Science Fair, Ligtas baa ng LPG Tank Mo?, The Shell Student Art Competition Canon Photomarathon, the MWSS crisis, GrabTaxi, Warner TV, Earth Day Run and many others.

HOW TO WIN AN ANVIL

The book gathers some of Agateps winning case studies that should be of interest to public relations and communication students and even practitioners interested in gaining more insights about reputation management.

The book presents gathers 60 of the 137 Anvil awards won by Grupo Agatep with each case almost presenting a template for those who want to create a PR plan—complete with specific objectives of every project, the intended target publics to reach, the strategies and methods undertaken to achieve the objectives, and the overall results.

I had a short conversation with Sir Charlie a few hours before he launched his book and I asked him about the most memorable campaigns he did and the first one he mentioned was a crisis PR called “Saving General Antonio Sotelo.”

“Gen. Sotelo was one of the key figures during the Edsa Revolution. But while his decision to shift alliances changed the tide for the revolutionaries, he almost didn’t survive the accusations and allegations of unexplained wealth and corruption from then Sen Ernesto Maceda. Armed with nothing but the truth we devised a campaign to clear his name and prove all accusations wrong.

In the end president Cory Aquino even invited Gen Sotelo for a private dinner in Malacanang and congratulated him for his integrity and courage.”

Another award winning campaign worth mentioning is Union Bank’s Lumina Pandit, which is conserving, restoring, and digitizing the rare books and documents housed in the UST Miguel de Benavides archives, some of which date back to the 16th century. By getting involved in Lumina Pandit, Union Bank aims to create public awareness of the existence of some 30,000 volumes of books that are currently being curated in UST’s library and to preserve and share the university’s priceless collections to a wider world.

On the other hand, Warner TV (Turner Broadcasting System Asia-Pacific) won the highest Platinum Award for launching a new crime-thriller show with engaging interactive event that immersed guests into the worlds of these thrillers.

 “This book is directed to the men and women in many organizations who are involved in their company’s reputation management and persons who are given management responsibility for reputation issues but who lack expertise in the area. If you belong to any of these entities, this book will help you understand the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects and the planning, strategies and skills required to implement them,” he writes in the introduction of the book.

In the book’s foreword, Dr. Ricardo Suarez Soler director of Philippine PEN says: “Charlie Agatep defiantly takes a different view: He asserts that public relations is an honest, truthful, professional, calculated, and intentional exchange among PR organizations, their clients, and their audiences to create reciprocally valuable benefits with the emphasis on honest and truthful.” With this work, Carlos has fortified himself as a living pillar of the industry. He’s considered to be one of the best practitioners in the country, and, currently working on his second book My Journey to Saturn, Carlos Agatep shows no signs of slowing down. “He is one hell of a practitioner who has put his hammer full force on the anvil of fame and recognition.”

“In a way, Winning the Anvils is a book about socially responsible companies and what they have been doing to give back to the community. By winning the Anvils, these companies are bringing humanity to their organizations. “They believe they have a responsibility to ‘give back’ to society, to provide environmentally friendly products and services, to innovate company procedures for the good of all their clients, and to improve the lives of marginalized individuals, especially in the countryside. They undertake projects which are ‘infrastructures of goodwill to help others,’ yet in the end they enhance their good name and protect themselves during bad times.”

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