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Planning for the 10th year of the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards

January, 2024

Since Maxim established the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards (KPBA) in 2015, it has always been important to us that KPBA is relevant to the industry; is free to enter; and has integrity – hence the independent judging panel of current and former journalists reviewing every entry.

As we’re now in the 10th year of the awards, we want to make sure we are still running the not-for-profit scheme as well as we possibly can, so we conducted a survey to ask potential entrants for their thoughts. 

What quickly became evident is that we can’t please everyone, but we did get some great feedback – a selection of which is below.

“The format works incredibly well, due to its independent approach to its judging process, rather than a paid to enter or local pre-vote format, as this can exclude great talents within the county. It really shows the quality of Kent journalism.”
“The process of the KPBA awards is honestly one of the best we take part in. The Maxim team are great, the free to enter and ticket format works, the organisation on the day is great.” 

“It's refreshing that it's free to enter and attend. Journalists should not be excluded from such events due to their means.”

“Congratulations on ten years and thanks for all your hard work and support over the last decade.”

“It's a really great, well-organised and enjoyable event, and a real morale boost for often overworked and under-appreciated journalists to get a bit of recognition.”

“I think it's a fabulous event - very well done. Strong sponsors - a celebration of all that's good in the county.”

“This is a wonderful event and you work so hard putting it together. Thank you."

“It’s the very best media awards ceremony!”

“I love it, it’s bloody brilliant, thank you! Xx”

We also got some constructive criticism, some of which we will deal with privately and some we’ll address below.

Comments on the judging panel

“I think it would make sense to refresh the panel each year.”

“The panel should be made up from people with a broader background.”

“We are wondering if the slant of press based journalists on the panel means that the categories/judging process leaves lifestyle publications at a disadvantage?”

The good news is 93% of people who responded to the survey are happy with the entry process. 

We think it’s important to have current and former journalists on the panel and we’re extremely grateful to the 17 judges who have given up their time over the years. Those who are new to the process always express surprise (possibly dismay?!) at just how long it takes to review the entries. 

In 2023 we had four new judges. It takes a long time to find the right people so refreshing the panel every year would be challenging, especially as we like to ensure a Kent connection wherever possible. It also makes sense to us to have seasoned judges who can show the ropes to those who are newbies on the panel.

Their interests and specialities might not always be immediately evident, but several judges do cover lifestyle and are experienced features writers.   

All eight of those on the 2023 panel have agreed to return for the 10th anniversary year.

Comments on the categories

In consultation with the judges, we refresh the categories every year to reflect changes in the industry. We asked survey respondents to name which categories they felt were still relevant and if they had suggestions for any additional areas that should be recognised.

Needless to say, there were quite a few suggestions – not all of which our feisty judging panel agreed with. We do appreciate all of the comments but we have numerous things to consider when introducing new categories, some of which are listed below.

  • Will there be enough quality entries? Kent is a relatively small geographical area so if we’re looking at niche categories such as podcast, newsletter or magazine designer, there may not be enough entries to warrant a separate category. We do try to ensure the judging criteria allows for as many different entries as possible, but accept we can’t cater for absolutely everyone. Our advice would always be to read the criteria to find out where you can enter and feel free to get in touch and discuss it.
  • Is it possible to fairly judge the category? This is particularly difficult with people who work ‘behind the scenes’ (i.e. they don’t appear on screen, on air or have a byline). It’s also difficult to recognise outstanding entries from the last 10 years – we just can’t ask our judges (only one of which has been with us since day one – thank you, Susie) to sift through that many files.  
  • Is it a skill that’s already covered by other categories? It has been suggested that more emphasis should be put on new media and social media, but our judges feel this is part of journalism and they consider it in almost every category.
  • Will we be able to get a sponsor to support the category? Although KPBA is a not-for-profit scheme, we need to cover costs. It’s not absolutely essential to have a sponsor for each category but it helps (and for those who remember host Ben Brown running back and forth across the stage, you’ll appreciate the ceremony runs a lot smoother with one sponsor per category).

To summarise, details are being finalised, sponsors are being secured and we’ll be ready to launch in February 2024. Please be assured that many, many hours of thought have gone into selecting the final categories. 

Recognising past winners

When we asked people if they would like to see past winners recognised in some way to mark a decade of KPBA, 73.8% of respondents said yes. We think it’s important to do this in some way, without taking anything away from the 2024 winners. 

We’re still working out exactly how this will work, although we can say with some certainty that we won’t be installing a blue plaque outside anyone’s childhood home (as one respondent suggested).

Anniversary party

We asked if the format of the event – a three course lunch spread over an afternoon – works well, and 75% agreed it does. We’ll be keeping to this format and returning to the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury on Friday, 5 July, and as it’s KPBA’s 10th anniversary, we’ll also be holding a party in the evening at the same venue.

We know a lot of people usually gather at various pubs around the town in the evening but this year, we hope you’ll join us to celebrate 10 years of the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards. More information and tickets will be available nearer the time but for now, please pop the date in your diary.

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