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Beacon Award Blog » 2010 » April
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Last Day to Enter the 2010 Beacon Awards

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 am by admin

Today is the last day to enter the 2010 Beacon Awards. Best of luck to all entrants!

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.


One Last Double Check!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

You still have one more day to submit an entry to the 2010 Beacon Awards! To help you maximize your time, ACC’s put together this check list of everything your Beacon Award entry should contain. Before you ship off that entry, make sure it includes what it takes to win.

• 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


Beacon Award Questions?

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

It’s crunch time. The Beacon Award entry deadline is just three days away. If you have any questions, we want to answer them. Ask your question here, in the comment box below, and the Beacon Award blog will find your answer.


Q&A with Erin Harvego

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Erin Harvego is Vice President of Marketing for Big Ten Network. Last year, she won Beacon Awards in the Crisis Communications, Events and Observances (Seven or Fewer Days), and Community Relations categories. Harvego has also served as a Beacon Award judge.

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.


The Mysteries of Judging Unveiled!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Understanding the mystery of judging the Beacon Awards is as simple as clicking this link: http://bit.ly/cewEfH. ACC has posted the exact judging form used to evaluate every Beacon Award entry through first and final rounds. Judges use this form as a guide to ranking the merits and strengths of an entry and to decide whether an entry moves on.

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.


Judge for Yourself: Take a Behind the Scenes Look at the Beacon Awards Judging Process

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Wondering what exactly happens to your Beacon Award entry after you’ve shipped it off to ACC’s Washington, DC, offices for judging? Understanding the processing and judging procedures your entry will experience can help you prepare it for efficient handling and evaluation. Here’s the step-by-step breakdown of the journey your entry could take to the Beacon Awards Luncheon in New York City, September 16.

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?


Reflections on Beacon Awards Judging

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

By Janice Caluda
Multi-year Beacon Awards Judge and Vice President, Operations for the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association

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 earned your APR, then you have a Beacon Award entry!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

By Michelle Scheuermann, APR
Director of Communications, The Sportsman Channel

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.


Fran Gladden on Writing a Great Three-Page Summary

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Fran Gladden, vice president, government & public affairs for Cox Communications, knows a few things about writing a good three-page summary: last year, she won in three categories. Teamwork, a strong understanding of her projects’ strengths, keeping the Beacon Awards guidelines in mind as a project is planned, and confidence are a few of the characteristics with which Gladden approaches writing a three-page summary. Here are a few of her tips on writing a successful summary:

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.


Q & A with 2009 Beacon Award Winner Devon Chestnut

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Last year, Devon Chestnut of Cox Communications entered the Beacon Awards for the very first time and came away with four trophies—including the ESPN Good Sport Award—for her entry “The Negro Baseball League Project.” With “The Negro Baseball League Project,” Cox brought nine veteran players from the titular sports league to Gainesville, Florida, to share their stories with operator employees, their families, and the community. Cox’s aim was to demonstrate the individual and social costs of a society that does not allow all of its members to fully participate.

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.


Early Bird Deadline is Today!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Today is your last chance to take advantage of the Early Bird Deadline and save $50 on your 2010 Beacon Award entry fee. We’re accepting entries at the ACC offices until 5:00 pm ET so by air, by mail, or by sea get your entry to Washington, DC!

You’ve still got time to put together your Beacon Award Entry for the final deadline of April 23. If you have any questions for our many experienced entrants, post them here and we’ll find the answers.


New Beacon Award Categories: Choose Carefully

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

One of the most important elements of putting together a Beacon Award entry is choosing which category is appropriate. Take a close look at all the categories listed in the 2010 Call for Entries to determine where your project fits best. Picking the right category can really increase your chances of winning.

One factor to keep in mind is which area your results are the strongest in. This year, you have a different set of possibilities to consider. ACC revised the Beacon Award categories to better reflect the realities and demands of the cable communications profession and ensure that the Beacon Award will recognize the best and most strategic campaigns. The total number of categories was reduced from 23 to 17. Four new categories were added, several categories were combined, and three categories were eliminated.

The four new categories are: media relations – technology/product, media relations – programming publicity, competitive communications and Web site. Competitive communications combines the most important aspects of the old competitive response and bottom line/sales impact categories. Web sites are such a key component in many successful cable communications efforts that they merit a category of their own.

Some of the 2009 Beacon Award categories were merged into one category. The events and observances (seven or fewer days) category was combined with the events and observances (more than seven days) so that there is only one category. Programming (single program) was also merged with programming (series) into one programming category. The new crisis communications and issues management category also combines two, formerly separate categories.

The new media campaign was renamed as social media communications to better capture what the category will honor and recognize. The business to business communications, investor relations and support materials categories were eliminated, and those entries may be submitted under other categories.

To get an idea of what kinds of projects fit into which category, check out past winning entries in the members-only section of the ACC Web site on the Beacon Awards page.

How did you determine which category to enter your Beacon Award in?


Congratulations Gaynor Strachan Chun!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 12:31 pm by admin

The first Beacon Award Entry of 2010 is in! Congratulations to Gaynor Strachan Chun of Ovation for submitting the “Ovation Arts Education Toolkit” ahead of the pack.

The Early Bird deadline is April 9th. You save $50 on individual entry fee by submitting early.

Save $50 When You Enter the Beacon Awards Before April 9!

Posted in Beacon Awards at 7:00 am by admin

Want to show your company the value of your work and your ability to save a buck in a challenging economy? Save $50 on your Beacon Award entry fee when you submit your entry before 5:00 pm, April 9—this Friday. You still have three days to save! The final deadline is April 23.

Any tips on last minute Beacon Award entry preparation?


Completing the Beacon Award Entry Process: Five Tips Every Entrant Should Know

Posted in Beacon Awards at 8:58 am by admin

No boy scout would head off on a camping expedition without his survival manual. No seasoned tourist would jaunt to a new destination without a travel guide. And no Olympic athlete would head to competition without the sage advice of a coach. If you want to succeed in any journey or endeavor, you have to leave prepared. This same vital rule of the road applies to entering the 2010 Beacon Awards as well. No matter if you’re a veteran entrant or first-timer, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you work on your Beacon Award entry.

Learn how to write a great three-page summary from past winners.

The three-page project summary is the heart of a Beacon Award entry. Before tackling your own, see what goes into an award-winning summary by checking out past winners posted on ACC’s Web site. ACC has posted last year’s Beacon Award winners online for your perusal.

Reading successful summaries can give you an idea of what is expected in the document as far as flow, content, and writing style that best communicates the project’s story. Take note of how past winners address each section required in the project summary: planning and strategy, implementation, and results. Also note which projects fit into which categories and how the summaries express the purpose of its category. Though some categories have changed this year others remain the same such as Reputation/ Brand Management, Cause Marketing, Community Relations, and Government Relations.

Emphasize creativity and results

What will stand out the most about your project is its originality and documented impact. Emphasize the elements of your project that make it unique. What makes it stand out from other communications projects? What creative approach did you take to standard communications methods? What was different about the subject itself?

Focusing on the results of your project is equally important. This is vital to justifying the creative elements of your project to the judges. How did your unique approach actually turn out in practice? Was it effective? Show documented proof of results. This can be anything from video footage of an event to press coverage to statistics, as long as it clearly explains the impact the project made on the community.

Economics, Recognition, Time Efficient: Three magic words for convincing your department head to back your Beacon Award entry.

Keep these three words in mind when pitching the Beacon Award entry’s place in the department budget. With the Early Bird deadline April 9th, you save $50 on your Beacon Award entry in turn saving your department money. New this year, members who join with the Beacon Awards can take advantage of ACC’s Test Drive membership option—the first six months of membership are free and without obligation. You must be a member to enter the Beacon Awards and the Test Drive membership gives you a great way to save on joining ACC as well as submitting an entry.

The Beacon Awards is also a great way to gain recognition for the work your department produces. It is tangible proof that your efforts have traceable results and is of worth to your company. Winning a Beacon Award also boosts department morale as all team members involved can take credit for their part in the award-winning project.

Finally, entering the Beacon Awards is time efficient. Compiling the entry itself doesn’t take too much time and can double as a post-mortem effort to evaluate the scope and results of a project. Putting together the entry can help you reflect on what worked in this year’s project and how to improve in other similar projects down the line.

Use multiple reviewers

A pair, or more, of fresh eyes can make a big impact on your Beacon Award entry. Have a few others take a look at your entry before submitting. Try to get people who were involved in the project to take a look—they may remember the importance of some elements that you may want to emphasize to further strengthen the entry.

You’ll be submitting your entry for review by a group of judges who most likely will have no previous acquaintance with your project. The entry will have to stand alone and tell the story of your project. A great way to conduct a test run of this kind of review is to have colleagues who are not deeply familiar with your project look over your entry. Their feedback can tell you if your entry is effectively communicating the project’s story and meeting the requirements of its category.

Always check over your entry one last time before shipping

You may think everything is there. You may already be tired of looking at all the materials. You may be hyped up on the adrenaline of compiling your entry and be ready to ship it out, but never underestimate the impact of one final glance. Make sure your entry is complete and paperwork is correct. A good idea is to go through the steps listed in the Call for Entries and ensure that all documents are filled out correctly and all materials are present and accounted for. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you give that entry one last look:

- Are you a member? Only ACC members are eligible to enter. Make sure your status is current.
- Is your entry listed in the right category? Make sure all materials are labeled and consistent with information filled out on the entry form.
- Is your entry packaged to withstand shipping? ACC is not responsible for entries that arrive in unorganized condition due to shipping.
- Did you include your payment? Your entry can’t be processed without it.
- Whose name is on the entry form? Entries produced by an independent contractor, ad agency, or PR firm must be entered by the partnering cable company.
- Do I have the correct amount of all materials? This is the most important question to ask yourself. The Beacon Awards require a certain amount of copies of DVDs and print materials for distribution during the judging process. An inadequate amount of materials may slow the processing time of your entry.

What essential tips would you share with fellow Beacon Awards entrants?


Not Easy, But Worth It

Posted in Beacon Awards at 11:31 am by admin

By Anthony Surratt
2010 Beacon Award Chair & 2nd Vice President – Programs, ACC
Vice President, Corporate Communications, Time Warner Cable

I’d like to say entering the Beacon Awards is easy. I can’t. The reality is that finding time and energy to summarize programs you’ve probably filed away by now, and doing it in three or fewer pages, doesn’t fit into anyone’s definition of fun. And don’t even think about shrinking those margins or using 8-point type.

But while it’s no rollicking fun time, and while I usually grumble through the process, I ultimately never regret time spent compiling a Beacon entry. Usually, I end up learning surprising things about whatever program I’m summarizing—strategic details I’d forgotten, buried research stats that apply perfectly to projects on my current to-do list, or even a needed reminder of the power of well-crafted communications plans.

We’re communications professionals. We have to be able to condense complex concepts into a few salient points. We have to cut away the chaff so our audiences understand the heart of a topic. What’s better practice for that than writing concise summaries of initiatives that consumed months of your time?

You’ve spent the past year promoting cable’s products and programming. You’ve tweeted. You’ve written, revised and rewritten. You’ve spun strategic gold out of a pile of reduced-budget straw.

You deserve recognition.

So, I encourage you to view the Beacon entry process as great professional development. Time well spent. A few hours of grumbling that will return rewarding dividends and, quite possibly, industrywide recognition of your brilliance.

As you start the process, you might notice a few changes this year. We streamlined the categories a bit to better reflect the realities of cable communications today, adding a few categories, deleting a few and combining some others.

Don’t forget the entry deadline is fast approaching – April 23. And remember we’ll celebrate the Beacons (and your brilliance) in an exciting new location and format this year: our awards luncheon Sept. 16 in New York, the concluding event of Forum 2010.

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