December Blog – Tom Kenley

Tom Kenley3Beyond the kudos: Why you want to participate in awards programs

By Tom Kenley

Winning an award from a professional trade association certainly makes you look good, but an awards program, especially those conducted by IABC, can offer so much more to help you grow professionally.

Judging. Every communications project has a unique goal with a unique audience and unique challenges. When that project is submitted for an award, the end result reads much like a case study, especially when utilizing the user-friendly AwardSentry online system, which most IABC chapters use. Submission judges (IABC members from other chapters) are provided criteria by which to evaluate the entry. While not every entry is a winner, there is always something to learn by seeing how other communicators approach their specific situations.

Submitting. The award submission process for IABC is like a “crash course” in corporate communications. You are asked very specific questions about the project — questions that go deeper than “what is the goal of the project?” or “who is the intended audience?” The end result? What is required is a thorough self-analysis of your project spelling out your strategies, measurements, speed bumps, and business objectives. It can seem intimidating at first, but the goal of these rigorous evaluation points (and the awards program as a whole) is to elevate the standards within our profession.

Feedback. Usable feedback to tweak messages or hone strategies can be rare, especially when working in smaller shops or one-person departments like mine. Evaluations of submitted entries for an IABC award are returned to you with scores and text feedback from judges on every aspect of your project. In addition to helping with future projects, the feedback also helps you fine tune your submission if you choose to submit your project to another IABC regional (Silver Quills) or international (Gold Quills) awards competition.

Winning. Kudos from friends, family and friendly co-workers can only go so far, and acknowledgment of our efforts from superiors can be sporadic (“Good job on that project last year!”) and unqualified (“You helped with that project, didn’t you?”). However, an award from a professional trade association can improve your department’s value within your organization, enhance your agency’s reputation with clients, and provide an impressive bullet point in your personal resume.

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