Going For Gold – The Saga Ends (Part 3 of 3)

In this final instalment of a three-part interview series, we wrap up our experience preparing our 2011 IABC Gold Quill Award submissions. Anila Ahmed (AA), Tal Henderson (TH), and Christina Bonner (CB) share their thoughts. Read part one and two here.

Final learnings:

  • Preparation – have a project plan and work backwards; GQ submissions take more time than you’d expect.  The chances are good that submitting work for awards is not your primary role so writing for this form can take some getting used to.
  • Story board the submission – plot out the story you’re trying to tell and select the work that is most convincing; cut everything else.
  • Balance the work sample and the work plan components, especially in Division One where they have equal weight.

The Interview

CB: So now maybe looking forward to wrap this up what learning can we take away from this, are their things that we would do differently or something that we would do to prepare better for next year?

AA: Certainly, what we said about encouraging the account directors to do a part of the write up right after a project might be more valuable to the process. I think that planning of this could have been better.

TH: For one thing we do not have to wait until our busiest season. Two of the programs  in this submission wrapped up in July and Feb of last year. The criteria hasn’t changed … we need to be checking on if the category has shifted.

AA: Even a general case study or write up. We should be writing our in house case studies in the same way. Let’s not do our case studies twice. Why not use that as a work plan – a template.

TH: The Gold Quill format is a neat opportunity – what you did – what was the ROI. That right there is a case study. They are essentially asking us to submit our case studies. We should shift our own thinking. Our business partners know that we are trying to solve communications problems and the IABC knows we are trying to solve business problems with our communications. It is the same thing.

TH: What did you see from your perspective CB?

CB: I think one thing that would be key in terms of edits as Tal mentioned, was the issue surrounding over-involvement. It would be great having three external people on deck who knew that they had an allotted time to view each submission. It would be the first time they would see it and we would know that it was part of their workload for the week. And we would not have to worry about the word global in the document over 30 times.

AA: Grammatical errors too.

CB: I think that group meetings where you almost story boarded things provided you with the most, versus individuals talking back and forth. This seemed to get people focused on the projects rather than glancing at it only 50% while at their workstations. And I think finally, pre-planning is certainly important. If we are able to draw from a page document at the end of the project. It gives a great starting point.

TH: In terms of that story boarding process I would like to get to that earlier.

AA: That’s just it. Not after your 10th draft. Right away.

TH: We came into those meeting at v8 and v9.

AA: And then we had to go back and revamp everything. Our thinking would change.

TH: I think that part of it was that we were actually writing the summary document. That’s what we were doing with those pre drafts.

AA: We should be able to come into the meeting at that stage with a whole portfolio of art. And now be able to put it together.

TH: And put it together for the adjudicators.

AA: You almost have to start with the art – and then put the writing pieces in.

TH: It was also understanding that our work is more than the art. What are the other pieces, it is the surveys, it is the program flow that we created. How do we represent that work to an adjudicator who isn’t going to read the whole thing?  Do we need to do that? Maybe we should think of the work sample as primary and then add details from there.

CB: That would help with word count too. We need to weight them more equally.

AA: That is just it. You sit with the team and you put things together from there.

TH: That will give us a great place to start. We should be able to pick up awards for sure next year, now that we are getting better at documenting these sort of things. One thing that we also need to consider is going down the list of elements for each award. If we don’t think that we are hitting a high score in each of those elements, don’t submit. We need to make sure that the calibre of our work is high. These submissions are going on the world stage and the value of winning an IABC award as it  does many great things.

Well great thanks!

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