The Blacksmith Awards, presented by the Cincinnati chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, honor the best of Greater Cincinnati’s public relations community, from talented, experienced practitioners to stellar work that has local, national and international impact.

2017 Blacksmith Awards


We’re thrilled – we’ve hit ‘refresh’ on the Blacksmiths, and we’ve come back with what we believe is a stronger and more prestigious contest, with new categories, new judging criteria, new award levels, and a new platform that will make entering and judging contests easier!

Before you start assembling your entries, take a few minutes to review everything that’s new. It’s really important that you familiarize yourself with our categories, the judging criteria and new award levels.

Spread the word – to PRSA members and non-members. We want everyone in the Greater Cincinnati public relations community to enter their best work into the Blacksmiths!

And of course, we are planning a great event to celebrate our award winners – so save the date for Thursday, November 16 for our big awards dinner at The Center -- formerly the Contemporary Arts Center -- in downtown’s beautiful Mercantile Building.

Please read to the bottom of this post -- it includes links to important contest pages.

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The Blacksmiths are now on the omniCONTESTS platform, which several other PRSA chapters have adopted in the last year as well. When you get to the actual campaign, tactic and professional categories in this Call for Entries, you will see what is required, in addition to the standard summaries.


We have adopted the national PRSA Bronze (tactic) and Silver Anvil (campaign) awards categories and language. Aligning with the national awards will make it easier to enter your award-winning Blacksmith to the Silver and Bronze Anvils. In these categories, we've also added a PRSSA campaign and tactic award.

We have also added new professional categories.

See our full category list.


We have early, regular and late deadlines for award submissions:

  • Early Deadline: 5:00 p.m., Friday, September 1
  • Regular Deadline: 5:00 p.m., Friday September 8
  • Late Deadline [Extended]: 5:00 p.m., Monday September 18

The contest fees reflect these deadlines - most award types receive a $5 discount if submitted by the early deadline, or will incur a $10 penalty if received after the regular deadline, but by the late deadline. So we encourage you to submit your entries by Sept. 8 (if not by Sept. 1). See our deadlines and fees page for full details.


We have reduced our three award levels – Blacksmith, Silver and Bronze – to two. They are the Blacksmith and Awards of Excellence. The Blacksmith will be awarded to the Campaign and Tactic entry that have the highest score above 89 points; an Award of Excellence will be given to any Campaign/Tactic entry that exceeds 79 points. 

In both Campaign and Tactics, we will allow a tie of up to 2 entries for a Blacksmith. If 3 or more entries are tied for the highest score, the entries will be returned to the judging chapter for a tie-breaking third judge to review.

These are guidelines – each Blacksmith committee has some wiggle room – but in general we believe these guidelines will reflect the value that a Blacksmith or Award of Excellence holds.


This may be the most important section for you to review and familiarize yourself with. To use OMNI – and get the PRSA price -- all PRSA chapters agreed to use a common judging criteria for Campaigns based on PRSA practices and principles with a very specific point system. We developed our own criteria for Tactics and Professional/Team categories. Print these out and keep them by you as you assemble your entries – you’ll know what the judges are judging on, and you’ll know how well you satisfied that criteria.

Campaign criteria

Tactics criteria

Professional/Team criteria


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The Blacksmith Awards are open to all public relations professionals in the Greater Cincinnati area. If the work was conducted by an organization outside of Greater Cincinnati for an in-town client, it is also eligible. Entrants must submit original work or work they directly supervised. Entries must be for work produced/managed in the Greater Cincinnati area between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

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There is no limit to the number of categories into which a single program or tactic can be entered, provided it applies to the criteria stated within each category. Judges may reclassify any entry into a more appropriate category or disqualify it entirely if it fits no other category. Entries cannot be submitted as both a campaign and a tactic; however, part of a campaign may be submitted separately as a tactic.

Multiple Entry Discount: Entrants submitting 3 or more awards will receive a 10% discount, beginning with the third entry. Entries one and two, determined by the order in which entries are created, will not receive the discount. Note the discount will be automatically applied and is based on regular deadline pricing, no matter when the entry is submitted.


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Once you have read through these Blacksmith pages, please go to our entry site and register. It's very easy.

NOTE: For organizations that have multiple people submitting awards, we suggest using a single account for the organization using a single contact point, and sharing the login with those submitting work. This will ensure your organization is able to get the largest entry discount available.

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Please direct contest-related questions to:

Kathleen Williams, APR,, 513-490-6520.

Questions about payment can go to Elliot Campbell,

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Jackie Koopman and Kathleen Williams, APR, co-chairs

Sarah Sampson
Alana Jenkins
Emily Linginfelter

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If you are interested in being a 2017 Blacksmith Awards sponsor, please contact Connor Wall for information on packages and opportunities.

Thank you to our 2017 Blacksmith Awards sponsors:

McHales Events & Catering - Platinum Sponsor

Scooter Media - Platinum Sponsor

Vehr Communications - Platinum Sponsor

Wordsworth Communications - Platinum Sponsor

Gail Myers Public Relations - Gold Sponsor

Intrinzic - Silver Sponsor

Prestige - Silver Sponsor

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors


Past Winners:

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009