Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but for many of Northern Ireland’s PR practitioners, the night ended in trophies, applause and possibly some sore heads in the morning!

For the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of sitting on the CIPR NI Committee as a Student Ambassador. During my time I have sat opposite some the leading lights in Northern Irish public relations and have witnessed the organisation of some brilliant events for PR professionals across the country.

There is however, one event on the PR calendar which can’t be missed – The PRide Awards.

Now, I’ve heard the rumours about PR, “it’s all parties and drinking and schmoozing”, and despite what this post may suggest, trust me it isn’t. But for one night a year, that stereotype might be a little true.

The CIPR PRide Awards NI is an annual awards ceremony to recognise the hard work and creativity of PR professionals and communicators over the past 12 months. It’s that one night of the year when professionals put away their laptops, put down the phone and come together for a night of celebration and healthy competition.

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Like previous years, the PRide Awards 2017 were held in the Culloden Hotel, Holywood. Taking the lead in organising the event along with the team at CIPR HQ were Seona McGrath from Smarts Communicate, Jane Williams from JComms along with Sinead Doyle and Alana Taylor from MCE Public Relations, who put together a brilliant evening.

I was kindly asked to be this year’s trophy assistant at what would be my first year in attendance, which much to my surprise included an official announcement and my name on the screen, hopefully, the amount of make-up on face hid my reaction. The awards portion of the night was hosted by Stephen and Cate from Q Radio, while I was tasked with delivering winner envelopes and passing on trophies. Thankfully, I didn’t manage to mess it up.

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There I am, in the background, looking the wrong way

The big winners on the night were PR agency powerhouses Smarts Communicate, with Seona McGrath deservedly picking up the Outstanding Young Communicator Award, and JComms. Also showing very strongly, proving the strength of practitioners across the country were in-house communication teams. Some of the winners included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, North West Regional College and Translink.

Click on this link if you want to see a full list of the winners from the night along with the winning case studies:

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For those of us studying and working in the industry, we know first-hand that public relations is often one filled with misconceptions. For most, PR is ‘selling tickets to nightclubs’. The PRide awards are the perfect response for those who criticise the industry and its professionals, and give us students who face questions about how ‘serious’ our degree is, some back up for those unwanted questions.

Another important aspect of the night, was supporting the CIPR NI charity of the year, AWARE. AWARE NI are the national depression charity for Northern Ireland and provide vital support across the country for those suffering from a mental health condition. Led by an incredible team, AWARE NI offer many essential programmes which require funding. Thanks to some great raffle prizes and generous donations, £1450 was raised impacting the lives of 96 pupils across NI – a job well done!

If you want to find out more about AWARE NI check out their website:

The PRide Awards and the CIPR NI in general offer a great chance for young professionals to meet established practitioners, so if you get the chance check out one of the social events I would really advise doing so. Our industry is in great hands and growing year on year which can only be a good thing for those us who need a job in the next few years.

Images are courtesy of Press Eye

Kirsty Wallace is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted at and on twitter @KayyWallace