By: Kim Gilmore, Director, Corporate Outreach, A&E Television Networks and member of the 2009 Beacon Award Committee
Applying for a Beacon Award in 2009 is like getting on an express train- easier and more streamlined. The new process gets ACC members to their destination as potential award winners at a faster pace. As many ACC’ers know, gone are the thick binders and reams of support materials for the first round of entries, replaced with your crisp and clear 3-page summary and up to 3 electronic files which highlight the project. For those of us putting together entries, this is a big plus, and we’ll also get thumbs up from our environment, saving a lot of paper, plastic, and time along the way.
Given the new system, I am going to offer some tips for putting together an entry that can help both first timers and veteran Beacon Award entrants. There are also some tried and true practices that might be as helpful with the new system as they were with the old. I will throw out some basic starter tips and things that have been helpful to my department as we have travelled down Beacon Street.
1. Three C’s: Clear, Concise, and Categories.
With the new system in place, it is more important that ever to cut to the chase and describe your project in a clear and concise way in the 3-page summary. After writing up a draft of your entry, ask yourself how the project description might be viewed by someone who has never heard of your project before- would they understand what you did and why it was special? Also, consult the category list. Think about how well your project fits into the objectives of the category- a great project in the wrong category might get lost in the mix.
2. Creativity (Another C!)
While I’m sure each Beacon Award judge looks at each entry with a fresh set of eyes, it always helps to wake them up a little by emphasizing what is original or creative about the project. Creativity accounts for 25% of the judging criteria, so it is always good to keep the following question in mind: what was unique or important about the project? Even better, pick your best video footage and photos to showcase what you did and how it affected your community in a positive way. This is your chance to put your best foot forward in showing how your company put its best foot forward this past year!
3. Does it Take A Village to Submit a Beacon? No, but it helps!
The best Beacon projects often seem to involve a cross-section of people and have a positive benefit on a diverse community. Along the same lines, all of our companies have a broad range of people who can bring new perspectives to our Beacon entries and projects. When you’re putting together an entry, think about other groups in your company and what they might be able to lend to your application and even though everyone is busy, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take a look at your entry. A new insight from a colleague into what you might add or how you might turn a phrase can make your entry sharper. The more the merrier when it comes to a Beacon write-up!
4. Results, Results, Results.
As someone who has judged the Beacon Awards more than once, I can tell you the hinge a winning entry often hangs upon: results. A key question judges always ask is: what was the outcome of this project? The more completely you can answer this question, and the more quantifiable and clear results you can provide, the better. As 30% of the criteria for judging, the results section is of primo importance.
So, now that it is easier than ever to enter, don’t just dip your foot in the pool. Jump in and get started. Beacon season is here!