The Pharmaceutical Marketing Society runs two annual awards events; the PM Society Awards at the start of February and the Digital Awards in September.  We are often asked why we run two awards, why, in an era when everything is digital, do we run a specific “digital” awards, and what are the differences between the two events?

This FAQ document aims to answer those questions.

What work is recognised at the PM Awards in February?

The PM Awards recognise Creativity, Impact and Innovation within communications activities in the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare industries.

Aren’t the PM Awards just about Advertising?

These awards used to be called the PM Society Advertising Awards and were in the early years solely about pharmaceutical advertising campaigns and executions. However, for many years they have had much wider categories, encouraging entries from a range of agency types including healthcare communications, digital, PR and patient-focused agencies. In 2017 only half of the categories were focused on advertising or promotional activities.

How are the PM Awards judged?

The PM awards are judged by 3 different groups according to the entry category:

Creative Directors judge craft award categories looking for impact, creativity and innovation. They are not assessing effectiveness but looking at the merits of the ‘craft’ of the work.

A large panel of primary and secondary care HCPs judge the target award categories – as they are the ‘targets’ of the work. This is unique amongst awards in our industry.

Pharma industry executives judge several categories looking at the work’s impact and appeal to a professional audience.

How are the Digital Awards judged?

The Digital Awards have both Effectiveness and Craft categories. These are all judged by panels made up of pharmaceutical marketers, medics and digital experts, as well as digital and creative experts from agencies. The predominance of pharma employees within each panel means that the work is being judged by ‘clients’ while having more creative and technical experts to provide a different perspective.

At the Digital Awards, everything is judged online in the first round and a shortlist of entries are taken to a second round where presentations are given to panels of judges face to face. This is another unique element to the Digital Awards, allowing judges to actually see the work and often interact with it.

Do the two awards celebrate UK work only?

Both awards events invite entries from overseas markets as well as from the UK. For the Digital awards, the only restriction is that they be supplied in an English language version with relevant metrics and they are judged in exactly the same way as UK programmes. For the PM Awards, entries must have been produced by a UK agency but can be aimed at an overseas market.

What makes the Digital Awards different to the PM Awards if digital work can be entered in both?

The answer, in a nutshell, is that the two awards are rewarding different things:

The Digital Awards focus on the effectiveness of digital work in the majority of categories and the outcomes and results command the majority of the judging points. In these categories, the project does not have to show creative genius, it might be a simple application or website that is not going to win a PM Award for creative impact but really worked and met objectives, provided patients with key information and support, or effectively helped engage an HCP audience and created a behaviour shift. The same project may not even get to be a Finalist at the PM Awards if the creative side of the work didn’t hit the mark with judges.

Why do we still have 2 awards events? Wouldn’t it be better to have just one?

There are many reasons to keep 2 separate events:

The first is that their focus is different – one is predominantly about creativity the other about the effectiveness of digital.

The second reason is commercial. Simply, two events bring in more revenue than one and the PM Society relies on revenue from its major activities to be able to offer low cost educational meetings and pro bono activities.

A single event would be too long. Each awards ceremony takes around an hour and feedback suggests this is long enough! If we moved to one event, we wouldn’t be able to have all of the categories we have now.

As the 2 events predominantly celebrate different elements of the work a project can win awards in one event and not the other so the two events mean we can recognise the best in different contexts.