The Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards: An Interview with Greg Zimprich
Minnesota PRSA President Greg Zimprich has an impressive list of achievements.
He has over 30 years of experience in the local PR community, including with General Mills, Honeywell and Medtronic. He’s been a member of PRSA for 30 years, as well, and is currently serving in his fifth term on the MN PRSA Board of Directors. He’s earned his APR in 2003, was elected to the College of Fellows in 2015, has judged multiple awards programs and has spoken at a variety of events including the PRSA International Conference.
This caliber of PR professional is a perfect representation of the type of hard work celebrated by the PRSA in the annual Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards.
This year’s Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards takes place on May 2, 2019 and Brandpoint is proud to be a sponsor of the event. Amidst planning for the Classics, Greg took the time to answer some questions for us about the history of the awards, trends in PR, and what he sees for the Classics in the future.
Tell me a little bit about the PRSA Classics. What is the history of the event in our local chapter?
Greg: The annual Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards recognizes public relations practitioners and their organizations for successfully addressing communications challenges with exemplary skill, creativity and resourcefulness.
This year Minnesota PRSA is celebrating its 70th anniversary and we’ll soon be celebrating our 41st year of Classics.
Like our chapter, the awards event has evolved through the years. The initial “First Annual PRSA Awards” banquet was held in 1978, and two years later it became known as The Classics. In 1983 the Best of Show award was initiated and three years later the Classics categories were aligned to the Silver Anvil Awards. In 1990 Classics II categories were added to recognize tactical components of campaigns. The Community Classic Award was renamed in 1996 to honor the late Donald G. Padilla, and the Young Professional — now called The Rising Star Award — began in 2012.
What are some of the most exciting or notable moments in Classics history?
Classics is the signature event for our chapter for multiple reasons.
First and foremost, it’s the opportunity to take time out to recognize some of the remarkable work being done in this market by this very talented community of practice.
Second, Classics is our big annual family reunion — providing the opportunity to re-connect with our colleagues past and present — as well as making new connections.
In terms of highlights, I immediately think of some of the incredibly high-quality work that’s been showcased through the years as well as the individual award winners. And of course, there is the fabled 1998 appearance of Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who was present to help honor his communications manager who had won an award for his campaign.
What are you looking for in an entry when considering them for an award?
Classics winners represent the best of the best. From my experience, the campaigns and elements that deliver creativity and strong results built on a solid foundation — research, planning, implementation and evaluation — are the ones that really shine. The rubric used by the judges ensures a consistent and objective approach is used, and the awards continue to be highly competitive, which is great to see.
How do you feel the public relations world has changed since you’ve been part of PRSA?
I’ve been around long enough to remember PR before the Internet or social media existed. (Yes, I’m that old!) While the tools and platforms we use will continue to change, public relations is still fundamentally built on strong and sustainable relationships.
Rather than simple 1:1 relationships, new platforms now allow us to build 1:1 relationships — but at significant scale. We have the ability to broadcast and syndicate our own content like never before, and the points of influence have increased dramatically. Consumers are squarely in control with their ability to hand-pick content from highly fragmented information sources. These changes reflect a significant departure — and opportunity — for our industry.
What do you envision for the Classics in the future?
While the core components of Classics have changed very little through the years, many of the particulars — like our categories, programs and venues — have continued to evolve to mirror the changing PR and communications landscape. I fully expect that to continue.
And I fully expect Classics to keep building on the core of its legacy — recognizing great work, reconnecting with our valued colleagues, and making new connections. As we continue to recognize the best of the best, it motivates all of us to aim high and deliver powerful creative and strategic outcomes underpinned by a solid foundation of fundamental practice.
Lastly, any advice for PR professionals looking to further their careers and to be honored by the Classics someday?
Do great work. Build a strong network. Be decisive. Ask questions and be curious. Try new things. Never stop learning and improving your skillset. Challenge yourself. Challenge others. Know your values and keep them. Talk less and listen more. Becoming a member and volunteering with Minnesota PRSA will provide you the opportunity to do all of those things and more!
For more information on the Minnesota PRSA, the Classics or other events the organization holds, click here.