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.