So Off Message won an Irish Blog Award the other week. Get us, huh?

I was obviously delighted to pick up the gong at the Academy in Dublin on October 5th, though somewhat intrigued that the blog actually won the B2B category, not the more obvious Marketing & Communications one it was also nominated in.

But hey, I’m not complaining…as I wasn’t when I won the few previous media awards I’ve been lucky enough to garner since I gate-crashed this odd business almost 30 years ago.

So what’s the story with all these awards? And I’m not just talking about in the media; there now seems to be an award ceremony for every industry you can think of.

Which, of course, is fair enough; they can be a valid way of rewarding excellence and a great boost for nominees and winners.

Though anyone expecting me to reveal some salacious insights into the dishonest and deceitful jiggery-pokery that goes on in picking any of these nominees and winners, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disappoint you as I have none.

Nope, not a single sordid sausage, sorry.

I’ve also no great perspicacity into the economics of award ceremonies.

I do know that you have to pay to actually enter many of them – though not, it has to be said, the Irish Blog Awards – and then to actually attend – I paid €45 for an early-bird Blog Awards ticket; most ceremonies cost a lot more – so they can be an expensive night out.

That said, they’re not cheap to put on and a lot of work goes into them so someone’s gotta cough up.

But I am fascinated by any awards-effect that might exist.

I mean, it certainly does absolutely no harm to one’s delicate little ego (and in this business, egos can be very delicate), it’s great to be able to add ‘award-winning’ to your CV and website, and dropping it casually into conversation is always fun, but otherwise I’m curious about any real and measurable impact winning one has on one’s careers.

Back in 2005 we won an Emmy for Reporters At War, our television documentary series on the history of modern war journalism we made at True Vision for Discovery and I distinctly remember a conversation a day or two later with a mate in New York on the way to a meeting with one of the big networks that he was dropping me off to.

He was, naturally, full of congratulations and was genuinely delighted for me.

I was a tad less enthusiastic, not because I didn’t appreciate the enormity of the win, just that until it translated into further work, I felt it was, if not exactly useless, then certainly only window dressing.

I’ve written a little about this – and failing to break into NYC – before.

And while over the years since people have generally been impressed – or at least, pretend to be – when they hear we won an Emmy, I can’t point to any one gig and say I got that because of the award.

People will rightly argue that winning such a prestigious award has probably enhanced my reputation in the business which would indirectly have led to work over the years.

And while it’s hard to argue with this logic, it’s impossible to measure.

The guys at True Vision will undoubtedly say the effect is very real.

As we used to say when I worked there, they don’t make a lot but everything they do tends to win awards.

So their reputation as consistent award-winning programme makers – and all the high-end qualities that go with that – obviously helps get them regular new business.

It’s much harder, however, to judge the outcome of just one single win.

Likewise, I’ve no idea what, if any, impact winning a GAA McNamee Award for my 2012 RTÉ Radio 1 documentary, A Silver Lining has had on my career.

That I haven’t made a radio documentary since is, in fairness, undoubtedly a mere coincidence…I hope.

And despite producing the entry, I never felt very attached to the Full Service Station of the Year award that RTÉ Radio 1 won in 2015 at the PPI Radio Awards (now the IMRO Radio Awards, reflecting the new sponsor).

Hell, I can’t even claim any special insights into what it takes to put a winning Radio Awards entry together as my production attempts in 2011 and 2016 were both also-rans.

So what of this latest award to grace my mantelpiece? What effect is it likely to have now?

The reaction from friends and colleagues – and a few strangers – on social media, especially on Facebook, interestingly, was lovely – thank you all – and the Off Message Twitter account gained a few more followers in the immediate aftermath, but you’d kinda hope it might also impact in the real world.

Though that begs the questions, what impact exactly do I want the blog itself to have in the real world?

When I started writing it in 2014 I had no ambitions at all for it.

In fact, if Jim Daly at GlicIT who helped me put my website together hadn’t explained to naïve ol’ me how Google ranking works and the importance of driving traffic to the site, I probably would never have even started it.

But the more I write it, the more I enjoy writing it.

I’ve wanted to make a media show – TV or radio – since getting hooked on Channel 4’s Wall To Wall offering on the topic in its very early days from 1987 to 1991 so that’s still a goal.

And yup, before you ask, I have previously pitched media show ideas, but just like most ideas pitched, unsuccessfully.

Someday it’d be nice if this blog helped swing such a programme decision in my favour.

I also wonder if at some point I might become one of those go-to folk that turn up on the news or radio shows whenever their topic of speciality is being discussed, in my case media affairs.

So will winning my lovely Irish Blog Award change anything? Will it actually generate any freelance work for me?

Who knows, but either way, I’m going to keep it going.

If this is your first time reading a post here, I guess that says something. There are 39 previous ones you can now work your way through, if you fancy it.

In your own time, like.

In the meantime, to stay ahead of the pack, if you want updates delivered to your email inbox as soon as they go live, you can sign up in the subscription box on the top right of this page (or underneath here if you’re on your phone or tablet).

Plus you can follow Off Message on Twitter here and/or like it on Facebook here.

Whether any potential employers or programme commissioning execs will be impressed by any such new add-ons, I have my doubts.

In somewhat unrelated news, I recently bought the basic recording equipment to finally start the long-rumoured (mostly by me) Off Message podcast.

Watch – or indeed listen out to – this space.

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Great blog Pat. In answer to your question, it’s nice to win a bong, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference in the bigger scheme of things. My gongs more to my 85 year-old mother than anyone else, so that’s nice

    • Yup, I think you’re right. That said, the series producer of Reporters At War was asked on board just after winning an Emmy for a series he’d SP’d on modern terrorism. His previous Bafta and Oscar didn’t go astray either.

  • I also won an award at the Irish Blog Awards (albeit a bronze), I had been shortlisted for a few years and was delighted to even get into the final with my provincial blog. I took my son to the awards and was just happy to be there. Winning was wonderful, I too doubt it will have any impact on my future work as I have been blogging for over 13 years and very well received at that with only two awards under my belt (this one and the Limerick Person of the Month).
    Now saying that, I don’t tend to put myself in for awards either, as the lottery motto goes “if you’re not in you can’t win” but sometimes it feels like you have to pimp yourself out for these awards that for the most part aren’t even recognised beyond a small circle (your Emmy not included). I won’t be turning them down if others come my way.
    I am not sure where my ramble was going but it was interesting to read your view on these awards too.

  • Hi Pat.
    Some awards are a big of a scam. Maybe most of them. You have to pay to enter, then pay to host a table on the night the awards are given out, and then winners seem to be spread with one eye on the following year when people will have to be tapped up again. So, the thinking might be, we have to give a few to RTE, but not too many, we better give a few to our friends north of the border or they’ll lose interest and so on. How many truly independent media (or other) awards do we have in Ireland? The problem is the public are not aware of the inbuilt corruption the process.

    • I hear ya. But like I said, I’ve no insights into the judging process of any awards ceremony, media or otherwise, and while we all might have our suspicions, until we’ve proof that’s what they remain.


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