Inside the Jury Zoom

PM awards logo

Our Creative Director Stu Collins was one of the judges of this year’s PM Awards. In this blog, he shares his experience and his thoughts on the ever-evolving healthcare communications industry.


I landed my first role in the pharma industry straight out of university. Not bragging, just building the story. It was in pharmacovigilance. See, definitely not bragging. Despite being surprisingly interesting, it wasn’t right for me. But, it did allow me to meet people who would help me see what was right. It was these colleagues who introduced me to the PM Awards.

Since then, every year I’ve been eager to see the winning work. The best work our industry has to offer, produced by creatives, marketers, agencies and clients, all at the top of their game. The work that doesn’t just look good, doesn’t just sell a product, but also makes a difference and changes people’s lives. 


It was an honour to be classed within the ‘highly skilled and experienced panel of judges – creative, digital and technical experts from agencies in the pharma industry’ (their words, not mine).

Obviously, this year, the jury room was replaced with a jury Zoom. But that didn’t stop the agreements, disagreements and passion everyone had for the task at hand.

Understandably, I’ve signed various things meaning I can’t talk about the entries. And I won’t. What I can say is that in each category we had a lot of entries, that we whittled down to a shortlist, and then a winner. No, really. 


To be a little more insightful, the criteria by which the head judge requested we assessed entries for the craft categories were: 

  • Originality
  • Impact 
  • Relevance
  • Clarity
  • Execution.

In the effectiveness categories, we added quantitative and qualitative feedback to that list. With the high calibre of entries, it was interesting seeing how many campaigns scored highly on all except one of the criteria, meaning they were out of the running. PM winners are the best of the best – high scoring across the board is a must. 

As I’m sure every CD does, I get hugely over-excited about execution of pieces, and that’s extremely important. But, that can never be at the expense of relevance. A stunning piece of filmmaking might be glorious to watch, but if it doesn’t make HCPs job easier or improve patients’ lives, there’s little value to it – it won’t do its job or win an award.

One surprising observation – and piece of advice to anyone entering awards – make sure you enter the right category. There was more than one entry that was excellent work but had to be discounted as they simply didn’t meet the category description. 


As with every year’s PM Awards, it’s great to see work and creativity in the healthcare / pharma world continuing to evolve and progress. We’re getting to the stage where audiences and clients are realising that health is the most important aspect in people’s lives. So, it definitely deserves as much creativity, thought and attention as, for example, FMCG products. 

At Verve we’re always excited to show how the perceived ‘limitations’ of healthcare and pharma marketing are just that – merely perceived. We love bringing this balance of exciting creativity, beautiful execution and a powerful relevance to everything we do. And of course, that little bit of ‘verve’!



Stu Collins headshot
Neuroscientist and creative director, Stu has had an unusual path through his 15 years in the pharma industry. This combination gives him a unique approach meaning his ideas have Verve, and he can tell you why.

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