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?