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Do You Have What it Takes? Insights on Taking Home EXCEL Awards - 2/23/2017 -

Deadline for EXCEL Award applications is just one week away. Make sure to submit by March 3

If you’ve already submitted your entries for this year’s AM&P EXCEL Awards, thank you! We look forward to seeing all your best work. If you haven’t quite finalized your entries, there is still time. Due to popular demand, the entry deadline has been extended to March 3.

For more information and to enter, click here.

Putting together the best contest entries can be tough. It can be a long, drawn out process of fine tuning, adding and subtracting entries to create the perfect collection that represents your best work. It can also be a daunting task, leaving you wondering what you have that will stack up with others on the judges’ tables.

So we asked a few award winners and judges from last year to share their insights with us. Hopefully, their advice helps you wrap up your entries and puts you on the path to taking home some excellent award hardware.

This is what they had to say:

Ron Jensen, senior writer, editor of NATIONAL GUARD Magazine, National Guard Association of the United States

• 2016 Gold winner for Magazine Feature Article

What do the EXCEL Awards mean to you?

"First of all, we take the AM&P EXCEL contest quite seriously. EXCEL is a rare chance for our work to be seen and considered by other professionals. We appreciate any recognition and favor learning what judges liked or did not like about our entries. No one should hesitate to enter the EXCEL contest or any other. It can be a rewarding experience no matter what the outcome may be.”

What makes for a good EXCEL entry?

"When choosing a contest entry, it is perhaps best to ignore the routine work. A feature article may be well-researched and well-written, but so will be many other entrants. Is there an article that takes a different approach? Or is there one that pushes aside the usual style of feature writing and takes a chance? If so, and if you think it works, that might be the contest entry.”

• • • • • •

Cori Canady, creative director for the Community Associations Institute

• 2016 Gold winner for Magazine Feature Article Design

• 2016 Silver winner for Newsletters Editorial Excellence (Print)

What do the EXCEL Awards mean to you?

"The EXCEL Awards are a good way for our team to test what we’re doing against the strongest work of our peers. In an association, it’s very easy to get buried in your own space without really seeing the rest of the world, so the EXCEL awards create opportunities to explore and learn a little more from others who face many of the same institutional challenges. When we can make our own colleagues notice what we’re doing, we usually know we have something.”

What makes for a good EXCEL entry?

"Try to view your own work with an objective eye. When you work on something so closely, it can be hard to see the flaws, but the reality is that, when judges are looking at things in the context of the competition, the cream really does rise quickly. Things like poor design execution, weak writing, typos, or grammatical or print errors will often jump out to a judge and can immediately lower your chances.”

• • • • • •

Ken Budd, Writer and editor at Buddster, LLC

• 2016 EXCEL Awards judge

What do the EXCEL Awards mean to you?

I like judging, not just to give back to the profession, but to see what other people are doing, to learn from it, and to gain new ideas. It’s also a great way to meet people and to reconnect with old colleagues and acquaintances.

What makes for a good EXCEL entry?
"Only submit your best work. Sometimes organizations submit a lot of entries in the hope that one will win, but you’re better off only submitting in categories where you feel you have extraordinary work. I worked with a lot of consumer magazine folks at my last job, and they definitely have a bias that association magazines are kind of … dreary. To some degree, I think that’s true. Association magazines need to be livelier and more daring. People are flooded with information, so you’re competing with everything: social media, TV, web, consumer magazines, newspaper, etc. You need to make readers feel that they must pick up your publication.”

• • • • • •

Leslie Pappas, director of publication production at The Institute of Food Technologists

• 2016 EXCEL Award judge

What do the EXCEL Awards mean to you?

"I enjoy the opportunity to see the work being done at other associations, and some of that work is quite impressive. There are quite a few editors who obviously feel passionate about their work and their industry and shared that with the readers. I think it is always a challenge to engage a reader, to draw them in, and explain a topic in a way that is accessible and compelling even to those outside their industry.”

What makes for a good EXCEL entry?

"I judged the Feature Article category. I have never judged editorial before, and at first I didn’t feel qualified, as my background is in art direction and graphic design. But after reading through the first few articles, I discovered that well-written pieces are crafted to be accessible to anyone. I was impressed that quite a few of the authors took what could have been a dreary technical piece and made it lively and interesting and were able to draw you into the article and explain complex subject matter.

"If you have a piece — or pieces — that you feel are strong and represent your best work, by all means, submit your work. If you do win an award, it is nice to know that you have been judged by your peers, and it’s a great feeling to be recognized. You may not win, which is never fun, but if you don’t enter, you’ll never know.”

The deadline to submit entries in the 2017 EXCEL Awards competition is March 3

· Don’t be modest; submit your best work!

· More than 100 categories

· Encompasses every association communication vehicle

· Extended entry deadline March 3

For more information and to enter, click here.

Volunteer to Be a Judge for the 2017 EXCEL Awards

Do you recognize exceptional editorial, outstanding design, dynamic websites, or eye-catching advertisements? If so, help us choose the best and brightest in association media and publishing.

For more about the judging, watch this video of the 2016 judges at work.

Submit your Judge Application Form by Friday, March 3. Selected candidates will be notified no later than March 8.


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