Media giant Reach PLC asked Yorkshire copywriter Andy Hirst from AH! PR to help them with their first ever online awards event

Pioneering event written by Yorkshire freelance journalist Andy Hirst and co-hosted with ITN newsreader Nina Hossain shows how major awards ceremonies can be done on the internet

Many awards ceremonies have had to be cancelled due to coronavirus … but Andy Hirst from Huddersfield-based PR company AH! PR has helped shape a new way to do awards online.

In a pioneering move, major media organisation Reach PLC (formerly Trinity Mirror) which owns titles ranging from the Daily Mirror to the Manchester Evening News, the Newcastle Chronicle and the Huddersfield Daily Examiner decided to try a whole new way of doing an awards night … and asked Andy to help.

It worked so well – with many hundreds watching live online – that the format will now be used for many more awards ceremonies in the coming months.

Andy – a former Head of Content at The Huddersfield Examiner – devised the Examiner’s annual Community Awards back in 2000 and, although now runs his own Yorkshire-based copywriting, blogging and PR company AH! PR, was invited back by Reach PLC to write all the editorial and script for the awards and then co-host them alongside ITN newsreader Nina Hossain.

Hundreds watched live on the night and the entire awards was filmed so can be watched again at which means lots more people have since seen it. The film can be quickly fast-forwarded or rewound.

The stage was set up on a secret location with full social distancing in place. The finalists in each of the 13 categories appeared on a large screen between Andy and Nina who interviewed the winners live via Zoom. All were in their own homes.

Andy said: “It was a very different way of doing things but there was no way the usual awards night could have been held in its usual venue, the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, either now or in the foreseeable future. Reach PLC wanted to give these brilliant people who do so much for their local communities the recognition they so richly deserve now and doing it online was the only way. It really was a trailblazing event and was all about good news at a time when the world is going through its toughest time in a generation.”

Huddersfield Examiner editor Wayne Ankers said: “Andy did an incredible job co-ordinating coverage and presenting the Examiner’s first virtual Community Awards. The awards are 20 years old and we knew we had to bring Andy back to make the anniversary year special. He has a fantastic rapport with co-host Nina Hossain and is the ultimate professional. It is an absolute pleasure to work with somebody who cares about the community like Andy does.”

Katie Isaacson, events manager for Reach PLC North West added: “Andy understands the heartbeat of these awards and is an invaluable member of the team during the awards process including judging, interviewing all of the finalists and producing the editorial content for the Examiner, the brochure, the awards script and not forgetting co-presenting the awards to an excellent standard.”

Nina added: “Thanks for a great script as usual. What a brilliant night.”

And the nominees also gave some great feedback.

One said: “I was impressed with the end product on the night. It was a first for you the organisers and I think you all did a great job on the night. Well done.”

Another added: “I thought it was very well hosted with the transitions between awards handled very well.”

A third said: “Well done - great event in different times. It was an inspiring night, as always.”