Debunking Common Myths of the Bell Ringer Awards

With the Bell Ringers just around the corner, we thought we’d debunk a few myths that have been floating around regarding the awards. Let the myth-busting begin!

Myth: “Only members of The Publicity Club of New England (Pub Club) win Bell Ringers.”

Truth: Objectivity of the Bell Ringer Awards competition is the highest priority for the Pub Club.  There is absolutely no favoritism given to members – any entry has the potential to be awarded a Bell Ringer.  Judges are never provided with membership status for any entrant to ensure equal consideration is given to every submission.


Myth:  “I never enter because I’m just one person and some agencies don’t enter because they are too small to win.”

Truth: No individual or agency is too small to enter the Bell Ringer Awards.  Judges award high-quality entries and deserving winners based on merit, not agency size.All public relations firms and communications departments are welcome to participate. Some past winners include agencies (large, regional, small, virtual), independent practitioners, corporations, museums, and non-profits (see the full 2010 list). In fact, some of the area’s smaller agencies have been awarded the coveted Super Bell in recent years.


Myth: “Only big companies or tech PR firms enter and win because they have more staff to commit to the process.”

Truth: Only a small portion of firms that enter specialize in tech.  For example, more than 300 entries from 80 different organizations entered last year.  Some of the top winners included WGBH-TV (public television), Mass Housing (nonprofit), Mass General Hospital (not-for-profit public agency), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Bishoff Communications (independent firm).

Myth: “The Bell Ringer Awards are chosen by just a few inner circle folks – and the Pub Club chooses the same judges every year.”

Truth:  The Bell Ringer Awards are judged by a combination of two groups of expert communications professionals from New England and members of The Publicity Club of Chicago, the nation’s largest independent public relations membership organization.  Judges are rotated each year and chosen based on their extensive experience, commitment to the profession and ability to judge in an unbiased fashion.  Each judge is assigned a partner to further ensure objectivity and are required to follow strict procedures from the Pub Club.


The Super Bell Award, our “Best in Show,” is carefully determined by a special meeting of the area’s most experienced PR professionals who are not eligible for the award that year. Individual awards such as The Striker and The Ringer are judged by an independent team of New England-based seasoned PR practitioners, while the William M. Cavanaugh Student Grant recipient is chosen by the Pub Club board of directors. The John J. Molloy Crystal Bell Lifetime Achievement Award is judged by past Pub Club presidents.


Myth: “I’m too busy to enter, it takes way too much time, and I don’t really care about awards, anyway.”  

Truth: While its does take some time to write and complete a full entry, the rewards of entering the competition and winning are numerous:

  1. It distinguishes you/your firm as capable of award-winning creative excellence.
  2. It validates your ability to create “above and beyond” results-oriented, strategic counsel.
  3. It’s a confirmation to your clients that you provide measured results.
  4. It can significantly enhance the brand recognition of a company.
  5. It demonstrates excellence among your peers.
  6. The award gives you bragging rights and great PR/marketing opportunities that last far beyond the annual June ceremony night.


Myth: “Only junior level staffers enter Bell Ringer Awards.”

Truth: Whoever completes the application must have a clear understanding of the awards and what is being judged.Expert communications professionals review applications for the development of clear objectives, how a winning strategy was developed and executed, and a list of clear benchmarks showcasing measured results.  Many terrific entries don’t win because the stated objectives and strategies don’t marry up to the results.

By Julie Dennehy and Maryanne Keeney

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