What the judges are looking for

Here are a bunch of quotes from our jury that give you an insight into the types of things they are looking for when they are judging your entries.

“I’m looking for inspiring, authentic stories told well… and I want to know what happened next. I want to feel energised by the creativity, ideation and execution of the campaign and that sense of pride in a measurable outcome.”

John Thompson, managing partner, Burway- Catalytic Communications

“The thread that runs through the work is critical with ESG challenges. What data is informing the business need, the strategy and the ideas? What was the work and what difference has it really made? How has this impacted, changed or even instigated overall business strategy? And above all, what evidence do we have to show for that?”

Steve Earl, partner, BOLDT

“Evidence of action and real-world outcomes that have impact on delivery of the SDGs and that use recognised metrics and verification to indicate that impact. Also clever use of insights and creativity to engage often hard to reach audiences on sustainability issues.”

Chris Pratt, managing director, Better Impact, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

“I’ll be on the lookout for an approach that combines credible reporting with outstanding storytelling, delivered in a way that demonstrates clearly what ESG means to the organisation. Alignment to a single SDG is one part of the story, so it’ll be really important that entries can stand up to wider scrutiny too.”

Luke Cross, director (London), Social

"Businesses have a key role to play in creating a more equitable and sustainable world. It is also a role that is inextricably linked to their licence to operate and the expectations of investors and consumers. I'll be looking for entries that are authentic and bold in their approach to tackling some of society's biggest challenges and delivering real and measurable change where it matters."

Bieneosa Ebite, head of communications and government affairs, inclusion & diversity, GSK

“We are living through a time of incredible economic, cultural and environmental change. I am looking forward to seeing how brands are cutting through the noise to deliver credible ESG campaigns that will resonate and have impact now and in the future.”

Simon Tiernan, associate director, corporate reputation, 3 Monkeys Zeno

"The best campaigns have clear objectives and evidence delivery. I like good and creative ideas but I am a bigger fan of execution of the right ideas – the ones which make the most impact with the least (or right amount of) resource."

Danny Cox, head of external relations, Hargreaves Lansdown

“I’m looking for campaigns that are not only innovative but communicate its business’ sustainability objectives clearly. The impact of an organisation’s actions on people and planet is key to any sustainability business strategy. So, I’m keen to see how the campaigns are able to articulate the complex issues around the UN SDGs and how those businesses seek to tackle them meaningfully and effectively for today and if there are ambitions for continuous improvement for the future.”

Haw-Yan Man, strategic communications lead, UNDP SDG Impact

“Measurable results against the commercial objectives is the critical factor I look for. Alongside a clear and concise, well written entry. As a judge you reading multiple entries, ones that make a judge work hard to understand the actual entry and what it set out to do, inevitably gets marked down. Nearly as much as entries that are just copied and pasted across multiple categories without being updated to reflect the category it’s trying to win.”

Mark Stringer, co-founder, SKOOT

“In this space there can be a 'push or pull' tension – especially with communications aimed at changing minds, behaviours or operations. In that tension about how best to drive change, there is room for well thought out creative solutions, and for those to be effective the work has to be rooted in a clear insight around the audience, cultural or organisation problem in relation to the SDGs."

Mimi Brown, director of corporate, The PHA Group

“With the stakes higher than ever it's crucial that we highlight and celebrate good practice in ESG communications - to inspire, educate and encourage others. For me, a good ESG campaign should be underpinned by transparency, honesty and authenticity. It’s about not being afraid to talk about the challenges as well as the successes – often it’s when things don’t go to plan that we learn the most. It’s also important to show the real impact that your campaign has had. Headlines and social media stats are great, but tangible action is even better.”

Helen Dodd, head of reinventing responsibility, Instinctif Partners

“Businesses have an important role to play in forging a fairer and more sustainable society. This in turn gives them the social licence to operate and also address expectations from their investors and consumers. I'll be seeking submissions that showcase ESG strategies that address major societal hurdles, effecting tangible and quantifiable transformation where it counts the most."

Priya Zutshi, head of PR, corporate communications & sustainability, Blue Dart Express

“The best ESG campaigns understand the link between environmental and social factors and ensure that they work together in perfect harmony. A project that focuses only on environmental factors but ignores human rights cannot be truly sustainable.”

Martine Parry, senior media lead, The Fairtrade Foundation

“I’m looking for campaigns that address the systemic challenges of our time, setting out clear objectives and connecting with defined audiences. The best campaigns are ones where the results align with the objectives, and there’s clarity on what the business is trying to achieve.”

Sue Hutchinson, partner, Hudson Sandler

“I'm looking for resonant stories created with a strategic lens. They should clearly frame and address the client challenge - and in turn yield inspiring campaigns which earn trust with audiences through authentic impact.”

Paul Sammon, director, Edelman Delta

“I’m hoping to see bold and inspiring campaigns that put a stake in the ground and inspire meaningful change that deliver against the campaign’s objectives. ESG isn’t an outcome, it should become part of the fabric of the business and I would like to see that reflected in the campaign – not just what the audience sees, but also the approach and production too.”

Sarah Archer , group communications & ESG manager, Diploma PLC

“I am looking for entries that harmonise environmental, social, and governance principles with tangible impact. It will be good to see ideas that demonstrate how responsible business practices can help build a better, equitable and more sustainable future.”

Bhavya Sharma, director communications and ESG, Urban Company

“The best campaigns will drive meaningful, measurable, systemic change in a way that reflects a business or brand purpose. While creativity is clearly important, rigour is paramount in this space and great entries will need to both be eye-catching, while underpinned with data and detail that can stand up to scrutiny.”

Graham Reid, senior vice president, sustainability, Weber Shandwick

“ESG initiatives are often incredibly complicated. I’m looking for creative storytelling and clever analogies which really bring campaigns to life. Alongside this award-worthy ESG campaigns need to show more than just the noise they generated – they need clear objectives which match up to tangible outcomes.”

Emily Morgan, operations & innovation managing director, Red Consultancy

“I am looking for initiatives that embody the trifecta of sustainability, purpose-driven innovation, and measurable impact – all underpinned by an unwavering commitment to shaping a better future. I'm eager to see how these campaigns are informed by data, drive strategic change, and effectively communicate their alignment with the Purpose and Sustainable Development Goals.”

Aman Gupta, managing partner, SPAG FINN Partners

“I’m looking for examples of measurable social value outcomes. Also, rather saying what you did, focus on what happened as a result.”