Finalists will be announced in August and the 2010 Beacon Awards Ceremony will take place on September 16 during FORUM 2010 at the New York Hilton.
For more information on the Beacon Awards please visit the Beacon Awards section of the ACC Web site.]]>
• 2 Copies—Completed Entry Form
• Payment Information
• Membership Information ( If you are not a member, simply fill out the application section of the entry form for six months of free membership!)
• 8 Copies—Three-Page Project Summary
• 5 CD or DVD Copies—Electronic File of Three-Page Project Summary
• 5 CD or DVD Copies—Electronic Files of up to three support materials and/or video highlights (may be on the same CD or DVD as the electronic file of the three-page project summary)
• 5 Copies—Any print documents used as support material
• Optional binder or poster of additional support material
• All items labeled
Why did you decide to enter the Beacon Awards?
I’m passionate about the Beacon Awards because I think some of the most dynamic, impactful, creative work I’ve seen in the cable industry has been in the communications and public affairs arena. I’ve been on both sides of the table…as an entrant and a judge. I’m constantly inspired by the programs produced by networks and cable operators. Although the Big Ten Network is a new network, giving back to the community has been an important part of our organization from the beginning. Whether it’s raising money to help those impacted by the Iowa floods or creating a hologram of our talent, we are always trying to find innovative ways to reach our viewers.
How did you select which projects to enter?
We look at what programs were the most creative in the execution and have measurable results. For our pro social campaigns, we also look at how our program has impacted the community in a positive way.
You were a winner in multiple categories. How did you approach each entry differently?
We take a hard look at the different categories to see if our programs match and have tangible results that would make it a worthy entry. There are often situations where one project fits in more than one category. For example last year, we had two campaigns in place to help raise money for Iowa flood relief. Because of that, we were able to enter into several different categories.
How do you decide which category is the best fit for your entry?
We first examine each category carefully to determine relevance. Then we will look closely at our program, determining whether or not the results of the program effectively illustrated the objectives and produced substantial results.
What are your tips for writing an effective three-page project summary? How did you approach writing your summary for last year’s entry?
The judges are evaluating multiple entries in a short time frame. It’s critical in the three-page project summary to be as clear and concise as possible. I also recommend bolding, underlining or bullet pointing key parts of your presentation so that it stands out. Make sure your results tie into your objectives.
How did you make your entry creative?
Treat your entry like you do your communications and public affairs programs. Spend extra time to make sure your presentation is great. How you design the binder cover is important. How you organize the material is important. What you put into the binder is important. We also spend quite a bit of time on the DVD. A good video will do wonders for your entry because it can really tell a story. And don’t let a lack of resources discourage you. One of the best entries I reviewed as a judge was a cable operator who had put on a chocolate-themed fundraiser. As part of their entry, they included hundreds of Hershey’s Kisses. Talk about bringing a program to life!
How do you show the results of your project in the entry?
There are so many ways that you can demonstrate the results of a program. Obviously there are tangible results like ratings or dollars raised. But don’t forget to include thank you letters, pictures of the event, media clips, direct quotes from participants. Successful pro social events are more than just numbers. They are also about the impact and emotional connection you make with your viewers/customers.
Think back to the first time you entered the Beacons. What do you wish you would’ve known then and how would you advise first time entrants now?
I have to give credit to Evelyn Cruise and Cablevision’s Power to Learn on the guidance they gave me in my first Beacon entry. I remember Evelyn pulling out thick binders with their past entries and I realized how much time and effort they put into the presentation of their entries. It made a huge impact on me. It took me about two weeks to pull together my first entry. I had every press clipping, every screen grab, every letter and pages and pages of photos from the event. I think my binder was well over 100 pages. What I learned from Power to Learn is that it is critical to have substance and to pay attention to details.
To read Harvego’s award-winning three-page summaries, visit the Crisis Communications, Events and Observances (Seven or Fewer Days), and Community Relations category pages in the Beacon Award finalists section of the ACC Web site.]]>
When reading the judging form, ask yourself the questions the judges will have in mind as they evaluate your entry:
• Does the project reflect strategic thinking and careful preparation?
• Does the project demonstrate efforts to build positive relationships and/or change behavior of the intended audience(s)?
• Does the project demonstrate efforts to increase recognition of the cable industry?
• Are there measured (quantified) results or an indication of measurable results? (Examples include sales tracking, survey data, documented levels of participation, demonstrated changes in audience behavior, and media coverage.)
• Did the organization receive formal or informal credit for the project? (Examples include thank you notes, proclamations, letters to the editor, and branding on banners and signs.)
• Does project reflect creativity and innovation in the concept, use of resources and implementation?
Check out the judging form at http://bit.ly/cewEfH.]]>
Step One: Processing
When your entry arrives at ACC’s offices, it is opened and immediately labeled by category and assigned a unique number that helps keep track of its progress through the process. ACC isn’t responsible for the way entries arrive after shipping, but the more organized your entry is when you package it, the more organized it will arrive—ensuring safe traveling through the rest of the process. Payment information is processed and you will be contacted if there are any discrepancies.
Step Two: First Round of Judging
ACC recruits judges from their membership year-round. Being involved with the judging process is a great way to understand what makes a winning entry, while getting to see the latest ideas your fellow communicators have submitted. You can still volunteer to judge even after the final submission deadline.
The first round of judging is done remotely, at the convenience and location of each judges’ choosing. ACC divides the entries evenly among the first round judges and ships them to each judges’ location. Using the 2010 Judging Form, first round judges evaluate entries on Planning and Strategy (20 %), Implementation (25 %), Results (30%), and Creativity (25%). You can see the judging form used throughout the process online at http://www.cablecommunicators.org/awards_beacon_judge.php.
First round judges fax or mail their judging forms back to ACC by the given deadline. Results are recorded and tabulated and the top entries in each category advance to the final round of judging.
Step Three: Second Round of Judging
Second round judges are experienced industry professionals from the ACC membership. Judges spend a whole day reviewing entries at the ACC offices. Judges are broken into groups and assigned a number of different categories to evaluate. Each group is presided over by a bailiff who is responsible for keeping the process moving, and aided by a proctor—an unbiased volunteer who distributes materials and collects confidential completed judging forms. Judges are provided with the same entry-specific judging forms sent to first round judges and asked to evaluate each entry. The supporting material and three-page summary are shown for review. This is why it is important to have the right amount of DVDs and CDs requested in the Call for Entries. Having the correct amount of materials ensures they will be accurately distributed during final round judging. Any optional additional materials submitted with the entry will also be shown during this round.
Judges also nominate projects for the Golden Beacon Awards, the association’s highest honor, to a public affairs initiative that has made an impact within the cable industry while enhancing cable’s image nationwide. This is not an award you can submit for—finalists will be selected by the judges themselves.
Step Four: Results
ACC tabulates the winners for each category and all finalists are notified of their status and invited to the 2010 Beacon Awards Ceremony in New York City, September 16. Winning entries are archived at the Cable Center in Colorado.
Questions about the entry process?]]>
I’ve been a finals Beacon judge forever – and I’ve always looked forward to doing it, but last year was the first time I judged the first round.
Although it’s tough for anyone in our lean and mean environment to find the time to volunteer, I actually found that when I declared myself “not here, not taking calls,” etc., I soon settled down in to the first round experience and felt really refreshed afterwards – it was a welcome change of pace. I enjoyed the intensity of judging – just me alone, looking at all the marvelous ways cable has benefited its communities, and as I am every year, I was inspired by my industry and my contemporaries. So if you want that same kind of high, you should do it! You can spare that long afternoon. It’ll just fly by, I promise!
Judging the first round and the second are different experiences. The finals judging is more formal, more structured, but more collegial, too. It’s a great place and space to catch up with and to meet some of the best minds in public affairs in our industry. I gained partners in public affairs from the judging process, while always coming away with great ideas. I learned that just because a project doesn’t have great resources doesn’t mean that great minds can’t get really creative and take it all the way. And there’s something about being in a room with six or seven like minded individuals who do similar jobs looking at the projects of people who have similar jobs that really gets you in touch with what you do and how important it is!
As a seasoned judge, I always try to approach each entry with an open mind, but it’s hard not to be influenced by what similar projects in the same category have done with very similar campaigns. The three-page summary is usually the first thing a judge sees, so first impressions count. Make that readable (meaning grammatically correct, spell checked, but also with attractive, easy to read typeface) and you’re halfway there. I do get annoyed if the summary is lacking in any of the above, so I suggest you find yourself a trusted editor/other pair of eyes and just let them red pencil it without taking it personally. I always listen when someone else says they don’t “get” something. If they don’t, a judge may not.
A winning entry LOOKS good – you’ve paid attention to detail. It has the backup that proves the project was successful or is well on its way to being so. If you’re in the video business and you don’t have video, I wonder how that has skipped your mind – unless it’s a print category, etc., of course. A winning entry has all of this, but especially, it has HEART. Move us with your entry. We need to know how much it meant to not just the people of Haiti, for instance, but to YOU as well.]]>
If you’ve acquired your Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) via Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in the last few years, then you had to submit a public relations plan for your Readiness Review. How excited are you right now knowing the plan you labored hours over is pretty much a Beacon entry?
The purpose of submitting a plan was to demonstrate your competence in 16 areas of public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. Those areas range from creativity to time management to grasping how to publish a PR Plan. And those winning Beacon Award plans are highlighted as the most strategic, successful PR Plans.
The PR plan, as taught in the APR process, was grounded in the four-step process of Research, Analysis, Communication and Evaluation (RACE). Most of us tend to skip the first two steps and jump right into Communications, or Tactics, of our programs. (Because that is the fun part!) And if our bosses push us, we’ll evaluate the program for success or failure.
After some time of skipping the first two steps, you begin to notice a pattern of your plans not achieving the level you thought they could. The RACE process pushes us to create more strategic, and therefore more successful, plans. This is also what Step Three of the Beacon awards are based upon.
Let’s review in detail:
• Research is where you collect formal, informal, primary and secondary research. It’s where you define your problem (the situation analysis) and identify your publics or audience.
• The next three steps are the meat and potatoes of your three-page “Project Summary and Addendum” for the Beacons, and counts for 80 percent of your overall score!
• Analysis is the planning and programming. This is where you identify your goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and other program elements directed to your targeted audiences. Remember, you already identified your target audience in your situational analysis. The third step is the communication process, or actually implementing the plan.
• The last step is the evaluation (or results) where you measure the effectiveness of your plan against your stated objectives. You can adjust your plan moving forward for future use – and your evaluation can be used as research for the next time around. This is where you place clippings received, praises earned and final budget tallies.
For the Readiness Review to complete your APR, you had to ensure your portfolio included the Nine-Step PR plan as outlined under the “Analysis” part of RACE. I’ll dive into this deeper since you can incorporate the nine steps into the project summary,step three of the Beacons, which counts as the majority of your score.
Step 1 – Your goals. Think in terms of end results and not process alone. Usually kept to four or five goals.
Step 2 – Your targeted audience. Consider, who needs to know or understand? Who needs to be involved? Who’s affected?
Step 3 – Objectives for each audience. If you have multiple audiences that means you must have at least one measureable, results-driven objective for each audience. Think in terms of awareness, action or attitude you desire.
Step 4 – Strategies for each objective. The overall channel or vehicle used to carry out your objectives
Step 5 – Tactics – how will you carry out your stated objectives?
Step 6 – Evaluation – are you reaching your objectives?
Step 7 – Materials – what’s needed to carry out your tactics
Step 8 – Budget
Step 9 – Timetable – I’ve always use a Task Manager list for all events and plans. It states the activity, who’s responsible and the date of completion. It works great in a large group to keep everyone on task.
So fellow APR’s, dust off those Readiness Review portfolios and with a little tweaking, you have your Beacon entry! For those considering your APR and you’ve already completed a Beacon entry, then I encourage you to consider that entry the first step towards accreditation.
For more information on obtaining your APR, visit http://prsa.org.]]>
Selecting the right category for your entry is the first step to success. Use teamwork and honestly evaluate your options:
“As a team, we discuss programs from the past year that were both creative and had a great impact. We focus our discussion on the goals and outcomes and choose those projects that are compelling to enter. We carefully read the categories and see where there is a natural fit. We made a conscience effort not to ‘force’ entries into categories. Several times we’ve had entries that would compete against each other in the same categories. In those cases, we have a courageous discussion about the merits of each entry and ‘pre-judge’ them against each other to select the strongest for submission.”
Approach your summary like a stranger:
“Write the summary like you’ve never heard of our industry, your market/city, the problem you addressed, or your subject matter. And, have people who are not in your department read your final draft. If they scratch their heads, the judges will too. Chances are, the judges will be from diverse parts of the industry and may or may not know the nuance of your role. Even more likely, they don’t know about the character of your community, the problems that may be unique to your service area, or the subtleties of your subject. You need to educate and make it easy for them to understand the where, why and how. It’s also a good idea to follow the Beacon entry guidelines with regard to headings and such. It keeps the flow going.”
Keep it simple and focused:
“Stating the problem, the goal at the onset and the outcomes in their simplest form makes a great project summary. If you add nothing more than these three things, it keeps it short, simple and easy for someone to say, ‘Wow.’”
Think of the Beacon Awards entry guidelines as you plan your project:
“In some ways, Beacons changed the way that we approach and document projects as they go along. We often catch ourselves saying ‘make sure to get (pictures, facts, figures, exit interviews) they’ll be great for a Beacon entry.’ The fact is this information helps us make the case for our programming to internal and external audiences throughout the year. Knowing in the back of our minds that there is a goal of entering a Beacon forces us to think critically throughout the planning and execution of the program.”
Even if it’s your first time, have confidence:
“Be fearless and proud. Don’t be afraid to enter programs that have been successful both with internal and external stakeholders. It’s worth taking the time to submit because a winning entry is great for internal morale, as well as external validation.”
Check out Fran Gladden’s Beacon Award-winning summaries for Crisis Communications, Events and Observances, and Media Relations in the members-only portion of the ACC Web site.]]>
Chestnut’s entries for “The Negro Baseball League Project” won in the Community Relations, Events & Observances (Seven or Fewer Days), and Multicultural Public Relations categories. This year, Chestnut returns to share her advice and insight into being a multi-category winner.
Why did you decide to enter the Beacon Awards?
The Beacon Awards are highly thought of within our industry. We knew we had an outstanding project, one that could be competitive with other high caliber projects.
How did you select which projects to enter?
There was no question as to which project we would enter in the Beacon Awards. Due to the overwhelming amount of positive response received regarding this one particular project – from the community, media and our employees, the choice was clear.
You won in multiple categories with the same project. How did you approach each entry differently?
We looked closely at the category overviews in determining the appropriate category or categories for our project. We felt that elements of our project related to multiple categories. When completing the three-page summary for each category, primary focus was given to the specific elements of the category as it pertained to our project.
What are your tips for writing an effective three-page project summary?
Make sure you project is entered into the most appropriate category or categories. Understand the focus of the category and the judging criteria. Creating a summary of your project in three-pages may be a challenge. Make sure key elements are covered, especially those that make it unique or innovative.
When creating the three-page summary, we utilized other award winning summaries from the same project. However, we made sure to align our three-page summary to the Beacon Awards standards and criteria. This project was the first one I ever submitted for award recognition. Writing an “award winning” project summary was a new experience for me. By the time the Beacon Awards came around, the project had already won several awards so I was able to use these award winning summaries to help form my Beacon Award summaries. The foundation for most award summaries is typically the same (situation, planning/strategy, implementation, results). The key is to pay special focus to the areas specific to the award category and judging criteria.
How did you make your entry creative?
When writing our three-page project summary, we made sure to focus on the elements of the project that made it truly unique – the components that supported “out-of-the-box” ideas. For example, our project initially started as a simple idea yet developed into a grand event due to creative thinking and ideas. We wanted to make sure our summary highlighted this creativeness as well.
How do you show the results of your project in the entry?
To show our project results, we touched on the statistics and data gathered upon the conclusion of the project as it pertained to our initial objectives and tactics. Not all objectives may create results that can be measured through percentages or concrete numbers but through other sources such as audience feedback or behavioral changes. We made sure to highlight all results of the project – whether small or large. Even small results can lead to a grand impact or future impact.
This is the first time you entered the Beacons. How would you advise first time entrants now?
[My] advice to first time entrants would be to make sure your project summary touches on the key elements of your entry. Three pages can fill-up quickly and you don’t want to leave out or minimize your true success factors. Read through the judging criteria information provided and focus on those aspects of your project. I would also recommend first time entrants review past winners’ award winning entries, available on the ACC website. This will help gain a better understanding of what Beacon judges may be looking for.
To read Chestnut’s three-page summaries for “The Negro Baseball League,” check out the Community Relations, Events and Observances (Seven or Fewer Days), and Multicultural Public Relations sections on the Beacon Awards Finalist Summaries page of the ACC Web site.]]>