Win an EXCEL Award? Donít Try
the best way to win an Association Media & Publishing EXCEL Award? Donít
try to win an EXCEL Award. Thatís my biggest takeaway from the recent
Association Media & Publishing Lunch & Learn, "How to Submit an Award-Winning
In late December, I stepped off the elevator in a
nondescript office building in Old Town, Alexandria. I was immediately stopped
by the strong scent of tomatoes and garlicy simmering goodness. Homemade chili.
Where was I? I checked the address. Yep, right location. I was at an
association media event. But it was like none I had ever attended. In addition
to homemade chili, cornbread, and baked goods, it offered an honest, open
atmosphere in which industry peersóall vying for the same thingócould talk
about what it really takes to succeed.
We were here to learn how to submit an EXCEL Award entry.
In case youíre wondering, the EXCEL Awards is the largest and most prestigious
award program recognizing excellence and leadership in nonprofit association
media, publishing, marketing, and communications. To help us, AM&P brought
in three former multi-EXCEL Award winners to give us some tips: Samantha
Whitehorne, Deputy Editor at ASAE: The
Center for Association Leadership; Rick Pullen, editor in chief of Leaderís Edge magazine at The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers;
and Rose Johnson, print and digital production manager at NACS, The Association for
Convenience and Fuel Retailing.
They all had different approaches. Whitehorne talked about
resonating with readers ó from cannabis to braille ó creativity and relevancy
matter. Pullen shocked us with attitude. "Provoke people, make them mad, and
you get read,Ē he said. Johnson dove into her magazineís redesign, discussing
in detail the process of surveying readers and re-thinking content and design.
What did it all amount to? You donít create a publication
to win an award ó you create a thoughtful, dynamic publication and the awards
Itís a true and sustainable strategy, demonstrated by the
quality of work (and prestigious awards) our presenters displayed. And as they
dug into the details of their work, answering question after question from the
audience, I realized how unique this atmosphere truly was. Some of the most
successful media professionals in Washington, DC were sharing their secrets.
They were giving us the tools to be better at what we do, which goes far beyond
winning awards. We are often competing against each other ó for readers, for
jobs, for the next cool idea. But here, spooning up chili and cornbread, we
were colleagues trying to help each other. And for that, I credit AM&P.
And finally, for those of you who really want some tips on
submitting your actual entry, here goes:
it clear and simple ó the judges have a lot of entries to get
through. Donít make it difficult for them to get your point.
your strengths ó explain why your
entry resonates with your
audience. And if you have metrics that demonstrate your success, include them.
go it alone ó talk to your team. Talk to your members. What
spoke to them? Your submission could change based on their feedback.
- Judge ó want
the inside, inside track to what
makes a winner? Sign up to be an EXCEL Awards judge.
Laycox is associate managing editor of Leaderís Edge, published by The Council of Insurance Agents
& Brokers. AM&P sincerely thanks her for volunteering to cover this
Lunch & Learn for her AM&P colleagues and Sidebar readers.