Event Recap: 2014 Excel Awards Submission Workshop – Part 1







Last Tuesday November 26, the night we were destined for the first real snow storm of the season, we hosted the 2014 Excel Awards Submission Workshop at the Fox and Feather. We were very lucky—the first storm was not that bad at all, considering what Ottawa storms can be.

We’re very pleased that the feedback that we received. Survey responses indicated that participants found the event provided excellent value in how to prepare a submission for the Excel Awards. In light of this feedback, I’ve prepared a summary of these points for those that weren’t able to attend.

The presenters for the evening were two of Ottawa’s leading communicators:

Barb MacDonald, ABC

Barb MacDonald, ABC, MC

Barb MacDonald, ABC, MC: Barb is the Director of Corporate Communications at Skate Canada and was recently presented with the IABC Master Communicator Award, a lifetime achievement award and the highest honour IABC Canada can bestow on an individual member. Her work has also been recognized by several IABC Excel Awards, a Silver Leaf, and four Gold Quill Awards.



Dyna Vink, ABC

Dyna Vink, ABC

Dyna Vink, ABC: Dyna is the Director of Communications at the Canadian Research Knowledge Network and Director of National Programs, IABC Canada, and co-chairs the IABC national Silver Leaf Award Program. She is a Gold Quill and Excel Award winner and evaluator.

Barb and Dyna drew the audience in with their conversational style and asked them to introduce themselves and state what they hoped to achieve that evening. It was interesting to see everyone attending was a first time submitter and was planning on preparing a submission for the 2014 Excel Awards.

The evening was chock full of best practices and tips—a total of 20 overall were collected throughout the night. This post will cover the first top ten tips captured from the evening’s discussion. The presentation is based on the Gold Quill Midas Touch PDF. Click here to view the full PDF.

Barb and Dyna first answered the question: Why submit?

  • Opportunity to learn from the evaluator comments
  • Opportunity to include on your CV, LinkedIn profile, and website
  • Opportunity to have your work recognized by your peers, colleagues and management

Barb also made the case not just for submitting, but for evaluating with: Why evaluate?

  • One of the best ways to learn how to write an effective work plan is to evaluate, when you can see firsthand what makes a bad, good and great work plan.

Dyna added that you should submit, by sharing the rationale behind submitting her work, which was to affirm the credibility of the organization (Canadian Research Knowledge Network) and demonstrate that the strategies were of international quality and that they made sense. This reinforces to the members of the organization that Dyna’s team was delivering something of value.

Here are the first top ten tips from the evening:

1. Engagement: When writing the description, make it a story that engages the reader. Set the scene with a bit of background and don’t presume that the evaluator is going to know the issues just because it was a well-publicized event.

2. Tombstone data: This is sometimes overlooked but is a critical part of the submission. Your tombstone data includes:

  1. Name – who is making the submission
  2. Organization – who the work was done by
  3. Title – name of the marketing/communications project, process, campaign
  4. Division and Category – identify the division and category according to the 46 categories
  5. Timeline – what is the time period that the project was carried out and the measurements were captured
  6. Description – provide a brief description of the project

3. Benchmark data: Reference earlier measurements to set benchmarks that can fall outside of the timeline you defined in your tombstone. For example, you can capture membership feedback from a survey in 2010 that established the need for more consistent communication to the members. This need could be addressed by tactics that include launching in 2012 a newsletter and building a Facebook page to post regular updates. These tactics could be measured once again by a survey to members that are captured in 2012 and 2013. The timeline for the project would include the planning stages in 2012 and delivery and measurement in 2012 and 2013.

4. Clearly identify objectives: Clearly identify the goals and objectives and show results. A recommended easy format to demonstrate this is a table:

 Goal: To increase member’s engagement with the organization.
 Objective  Results
 (Brief description of objective) To increase positive interaction on Twitter
  • Tweets were tracked from 2012 to 2013 with a benchmark set in 2011 that saw an average of 10 tweets per month with over 50% showing negative sentiment. With the rollout of the Facebook page, the tweets have been consistent in numbers but 90% show positive or neutral sentiment.
    See appendix 1.

5. Objectives: Include three to six objectives to show what worked. Include key messages that were well received by your audience(s). Show in your work sample/appendix. Talk about how your audience will affect your key message.

6. Appendix: Include an appendix as a work sample that shows charted tracked media, social media, survey or other results. Also include design and creative work as a work sample that clearly supports the work plan and objective results.

7. Reformulate one project for more than one category: One project can be reformulated for several categories, but you need to craft a work plan specific for each category. For example, the graphics totally rocked and created windows of opportunity with the overall program of branding, social media and external communication.

8. Align with the bottom line: By aligning your objectives with the bottom line, it will be easier to show your work’s relevancy to the both the evaluators and your manager.

If you work for a company that is B2B but your project’s goal is to effectively reach your client’s customer, then you need to create cascading objectives. For example, a business objective could be to create a template PowerPoint that will support your clients when they present their sales pitch. This objective then cascades into the objective of meeting your client’s customers’ needs.

9. Private details: Ask or indicate on the work plan what details are not to be released. You need to give the evaluator a sense of the scope of the project. Explain how you plan to sell it to management. Did you have to work to get approval from the chain of command?

10. Team work: Explain your role, and don’t take credit for work that you didn’t do. This is a critical detail that is often overlooked. A crucial part of the submission is explaining the support and interaction of the team.

Watch for tomorrow’s post that will cover the remaining 10 best practices and tips.

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