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.