PR News Announces Winners of 2011 Digital PR Awards

The best in digital public relations was honored today at the PR News Digital PR Awards luncheon at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

Winners and honorable mentions in more than 30 categories—ranging from Best Blog to Employee Communications to Use of Facebook—were feted in front of a sold-out audience.

See profiles of all the Digital PR Award winners and  honorable mentions 

Award recipients were quick to point out that digital/social media integration with more traditional campaign components was critical to campaign success. Kate Simpson, senior account executive at MWW Group—winner of the Most Engaged Brand category—says the Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm effort during BlogHer 2010 was “truly a 360-degree integrated effort.”

Most PR pros would say turning Facebook fans and Twitter followers into true brand devotees is a difficult task, yet Stephanie Camargo, group manager at Axis Agency, which won Best Digital PR Campaign ($100K or less), says that its #ChevyCrawls Take South Florida by Storm campaign proved that “our followers on social media are eager to get into Chevy products.”

To get audiences to respond to social media outreach, PR pros must know the ins and outs of social engagement. On that end, keynote speaker Duncan Watts, principal research scientist for Yahoo Research, says that studies have proven that for the best value in spreading the word via social platforms, forgo the Kim Kardashians of the universe and use more ordinary online influencers to attract followers. Plus, says Watts, platforms like Twitter and Facebook spread messages much less virally than one might think. “Ninety-nine percent of tweets only get retweeted once,” he says.

Then again, Ventana PR, which won in the New Digital Service/Product category for its use of the online New Media Engine system, says viral distribution of content is within reach if the effort is “continuous and targeted.”

Gayle Weiswasser, VP of social media communications at Discovery Communications, summed up social media success best. Weiswasser, who accepted awards for Discovery for Best Social Networking Campaign and Digital PR Team of the Year, says, “Simply give your social media fans what they want.”