for Entering the EXCEL Awards
Hereís some great advice from a panel of former
EXCEL Award judges and winners on how to strengthen your EXCEL Award entry this
year. Donít postpone reading this article ó
the EXCEL Awards entry deadline is fast-approaching on February
By Prasana William
year, the EXCEL Awards recognizes excellence in nonprofit association media,
publishing, marketing, and communications. From web publishing to newsletters
and magazine innovation, the awards program offers more than 100 categories to
enter. That can be daunting to a first time entrant, but on January 29,
Association Media & Publishing gathered a panel of experienced judges and
winners to unlock the secrets of compiling a winning entry during a Lunch &
Learn event in Washington, DC.
panel of experts included Debra Bates-Schrott, president, Bates Creative Group;
Brendan Hurley, senior vice president, marketing & communications, Goodwill
of Greater Washington; Kim Mills, deputy executive director, public &
member communications, American Psychological Association; and Leon Rubis, vice
president, editorial, Society for Human Resource Management. With different
disciplines and areas of expertise, the panel addressed innovation, selecting
strong candidates for submission, creating compelling entry materials, and the
not just about that membership piece you put out there last year. Itís about
that membership piece you put out that broke down boundaries, the successes
that stood out in the pile of mail to your members,Ē says Debra Bates-Schrott,
who has won multiple times in design categories and has served as a judge.
an EXCEL Award begins with creating projects that push the envelope, but relies
on understanding the correct way to submit an entry. "None of us design
creative strategies around winning an award. You design strategies to have
impact and mileage,Ē says Brendan Hurley. "All of us in our careers have
created something award worthy, but if you didnít submit appropriately, you may
have lost that award to someone whose entry may not have been the strongest.Ē
judge Leon Rubis shed light on the judging process, advising participants to
pay close attention to the entry requirements. Judges weed out poorly designed
and wrongly categorized entries immediately ó so save yourself time and double check
that your entry follows the rules for your category. He also encouraged
entrants to include as much hard data as possible to show the impact of a
an entry doesnít make it past the judgeís table, the EXCEL Awards is an
opportunity for growth. Bates-Schrott urged entrants to examine their losses.
Talk about what won and how that project is different from yours. Youíd be
surprised at what you see when comparing your project to those of your peers.
all about storytelling and keeping eyes engaged today,Ē she continues. "How is
that playing into what you do? Always consider how youíre engaging deeply.
Those are the kinds of entries that youíd want to share.Ē
just a few of their tips on entering the EXCEL Awards:
- Do your research. Observe the current competitive climate and
study past winners, then focus on what makes your project stand out from the
pack. Focus on what you know about your project, and not just how you think
about it ó if there is measurable positive impact, itís a strong project. Also, avoid competing against yourself ó enter categories you havenít considered
- Make it a team effort. It takes a team to get your product out
everyday; make selecting which projects to enter a team process too, allowing
input from all who worked on it. When crafting the write-up that accompanies
each issue, focus on the teamís contribution rather than writing from a
first-person voice. This places recognition where itís due and avoids putting
off the judges due to perceived arrogance.
- Keep it brief. Speaking of the write-up, keep it short and focus on how your
entry broke barriers or charted new territory.
- Read directions. Donít make it easy for the judges to
disqualify you. Read the entry instructions one more time before submitting.
- Consider the whole picture. Which of your projects really pushed the
envelope this year? Submit the entries that tell a story of engagement.
And now, itís time to get moving: The deadline for entering
the 2015 EXCEL Awards
is February 16, 2015.
Prasana William is associate editor of Funworld, the official magazine of the International
Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Association Media &
Publishing sincerely thanks her for posting these EXCEL Award tips for our
members who were unable to attend last weekís Lunch & Learn.