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The Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong announces winners of 2015 Young PR Professionals Competition

Hong Kong, 02 April 2015 – The winners of the 2015 Young Public Relations Professionals Competition were announced during an awards ceremony at Brick Lane Admiralty on 31 March 2015. The event, in its fifth year, was attended by industry members and representatives from the business and government sectors.

The competition celebrates the best of Hong Kong’s young PR community and helps to further the career aspirations of promising students and young professionals. This year, the competition brief challenges entrants to develop a six-month integrated public relations plan to promote a fictional government health awareness campaign targeting the social concern of binge drinking among Hong Kong youth.

The winners of the 2015 Young PR Professionals Competition are:

‘Young Professional’ Category

Winner – Sasha Alwani, Senior Associate and Digital Strategist, Burson-Marsteller

Runner-up - Scarlett Au, Communications Specialist, Tesla Motors

‘Student’ Category

Winner – Abby Cheng, Final-Year Student, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Runner-up – Sheren Ku, Final-Year Student, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Ms. Sasha Alwani walked away with a HK$10,000 cash prize and a place on the CPRFHK Board as the Young Professionals’ Representative for the 2015/2016 Council year while Ms. Abby Cheng received a HK$5,000 cash prize and an internship opportunity organised by CPRFHK.

The judging panel included industry professionals from PR consultancies, in-house communications teams and academia. Submissions were judged based on the entrant’s understanding of public relations, the strategy employed and the creativity and originality of ideas proposed.

Young PR Professionals Awards-2015 Competition winners

From left to right: 2015 Young Public Relations Professionals Competition winners, Sasha Alwani, Scarlett Au, Abby Cheng and Sheren Ku

Young PR Professionals Awards-2015 Competition winners Chairman Deputy Chair Honorary Secretary

From left to right: CPRFHK Honorary Secretary, Simeon Mellalieu, Scarlett Au, Sasha Alwani, CPRFHK Chairman, Rachel Catanach, Abby Cheng, Sheren Ku and CPRFHK Deputy Chairman, Robert Grieves

Rachel Catanach, Chairperson of CPRFHK and Senior Partner, SVP and Managing Director at FleishmanHillard, said, “We are delighted at the number of excellent entries we received this year and are impressed with the diversity of entries and the level of detail that went into each submission. Ultimately of course, it was down to two contestants, both of whom delivered creative, multi-dimensional proposals based on clear insights and sound strategy that will set a benchmark for fellow public relations professionals in Hong Kong. Congratulations to Sasha and Abby for the outstanding entries that impressed the judges and showcased their deep understanding of the PR industry!”

The 2015 Young Public Relations Professionals Competition awards ceremony was sponsored by Pernod Ricard and the Information Services Department.


More About The Winners - ‘Young Professional’ Category

Winner – Sasha Alwani, Senior Associate and Digital Strategist, Burson-Marsteller

Sasha, who majored in Communications at the Boston University, began her career in public relations at Burson-Marsteller, where she has been working the last four years. Given the number of anti-drinking campaigns out there, her main challenge for the competition was to come up with an approach that young audiences like herself would be receptive to. She soon realised the little-known fact that binge drinking included consuming three or more drinks a night. This prompted a strategy that focused on education and her campaign strapline, “One, two, three, COUNT!”.

Sasha’s entry included a situational analysis that explored the consumer habits and perceptions of the Hong Kong drinking scene and offered a well-rounded strategic approach that highlighted online and offline channels. In addition, Sasha also outlined the development of a public service announcement and storyboard that leveraged local celebrities to reinforce the message that binge drinking negatively affects health and results in socially embarrassing situations.

Runner-up - Scarlett Au, Communications Specialist, Tesla Motors

Scarlett was an art history and media and cultural major at the University of Hong Kong but quickly realised her true passion lies in public relations. She worked at public relations agencies, Edelman and The Hoffman Agency before joining Tesla Motors. Scarlett believes her consultancy and in-house experience have offered her the broad perspective that guided her entry for the competition.

Scarlett’s submission focuses on advocating responsible drinking and increasing awareness of the danger of problematic alcohol use. Her campaign looks at launching the “SoberHour” website, which gathers and curates interesting and fun content that encourages dialogue and conversation around the issue of drinking. Other ideas in Scarlett’s proposal include a campus sober pop-up bar selling only non-alcoholic drinks and recording a song to promote the campaign’s key messages.

‘Student’ Category

Winner – Abby Cheng, Final-Year Student, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Abby, a final-year English Studies major at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, decided to go into public relations after reading about British ad man and founder of Ogilvy and Mather, David Mackenzie Ogilvy, whom she counts as a key influence in her life. In coming up with a campaign idea for the competition, Abby knew she had to employ an approach that was both fun and engaging and would appeal to the post-90’s generation in Hong Kong. She settled on a party theme that explored various tactics that appealed to her primary target audience.

Abby submitted a phased proposal centred around a responsible drinking campaign named ‘Soberock’, a term coined out of the words ‘sober’ and ‘rock’, a slang for winning. The campaign champions the state of being ‘soberock’ or enjoying alcohol in a manner that does not involve getting drunk. Abby’s integrated approach includes traditional public relations efforts, complemented by pop-up events that celebrate the premise of ‘we can still party rock without drinking till we drop’, social media and digital activities.

Runner-up – Sheren Ku, Final-Year Student, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Sheren is a final-year Global and China Studies student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. As a non-communications major, her largest challenge was developing a campaign from start to finish and selecting the right tactics to reach her audience. She credits her internships at public relations consultancies Hill+Knowlton and FleishmanHillard as key drivers behind the strategy she submitted. Her entry looks at positioning the concept of responsible drinking as ‘cool’ while portraying binge drinking as unfashionable.

Sheren’s phased campaign leverages digital platforms as the primary communications platform given that young adults are avid internet users and are especially active on social media platforms. Traditional print media will also be used to ensure optimal exposure to all young adults in Hong Kong. Some ideas explored in Sheren’s proposal include mini movies and vlogs, campus outreach and a hashtag campaign to encourage online conversations.

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