What’s new with the 2014 Excel Awards?

One of the many things that brings me great joy is volunteering with IABC`s Ottawa chapter as VP, Excel Awards. The 2013 Excel Awards Program’s success was a real feather in the cap for everyone involved. We received full support and creative input from the board as well a great team of volunteers. Two key volunteers that took on pivotal roles were Kaleigh Mclaren, Event Director, and Sarah Raphael, Program Director.

Working as a team, we were able to meet our goals and objectives that included the following:
1. To be financially successful.
2. To capture the same number of submissions as 2012.
3. To sell at least 150 of the 175 tickets.
The first two goals were easily met and the last goal was more than met with all 175 tickets being sold two days before the event.

For 2014 we’ve been tasked to build on this success. To help us discover areas that could be improved, we engaged with participants from the 2013 program through surveys and casual discussions. Feedback indicated that some IABC members didn’t submit because they perceived the process was too intimidating. Survey comments revealed that attendees felt that the majority of the awards went to agencies, which is understandable given over two-thirds of our submissions come from agencies. We also received comments from the Silver Leaf Program that they received fewer submissions from the Ottawa chapter than previous years.

This research ended up with the following goals being included in the 2014 program’s goals:
1. Make the submission process easier for those who have never done a submission before.
2. Increase the number of submissions of by non-agency participants.
3. Create an easier online process for the evaluators.
4. Ensure the program is relevant to the national Silver Leaf and international Gold Quill programs.

To meet these goals we’ve made the following improvements:

1. Excel Awards Submission Workshop – There was tremendous support and agreement from the board that a pilot workshop would help us achieve the first two goals. Our first workshop will be held Tues, Nov 26 at the Fox and Feather. We are very fortunate to have two of Ottawa’s leading communicators present the workshop: Barb MacDonald, ABC, MC is Director Corporate Communications at Skate Canada and Dyna Vink, ABC is Director of Communications at the Canadian Research Knowledge Network.
2. Award Sentry an online submission tool – Based on the success of the Silver Leaf Program working with Award Sentry, we have been extremely pleased with:
– the ease in building the template for the 2014 Excel Awards
– the automatic confirmation payment email
– the ability for the awards team to track
– the ease it creates for evaluators to access submissions and complete their
evaluations online
3. Gold Quill Program – Rather than reinventing the wheel, the 2014 Excel Awards Program is based on the 2013 Gold Quill Program. It’s based on the 2013 program because the 2014 materials weren’t published in time for the Nov 15, 2013 Excel Awards launch. By basing the Excel Awards on the Gold Quill Program, it will be easier for participants to work with the evaluator’s feedback and submit their work at the next level.

I really look forward to hearing from our participants how successful they feel these changes are, as well as tracking and evaluating the impact these solutions have on the success of the 2014 program and what further insight will be gained.

The 2014 Excel Awards was launched Friday, November 15, 2013, with early bird pricing closing Dec 12 and the regular program running until Jan 7, 2014. For more information please visit: http://ottawa.iabc.com/awards/about/

The 2014 Excel Awards Celebration will be held on Thursday, May 15, 2014 with more details to come.