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The 2011 TRENDS All-Media Contest was again a success, and 65 gold, silver and bronze honors were distributed across 22 tightly contested categories.
Judges were instructed to evaluate entries based on appearance – quality of printing, paper choice, use of colors, and overall impression of quality; layout – arrangement of articles or materials, headlines, balance; style – art quality and arrangement, over- all approach; content – writing quality, presentation, continuity; appropriateness – suitability to the purposes and interests of the audience; and effectiveness – the likely results from the piece in achieving the association’s apparent aims. Judges were encouraged to add other criteria.
With revamped categories this year, competition was tighter than usual. What is it that the winning entries were able to do better than the others, and what can those that didn’t win do differently for next year? Judges’ comments shared here describe the good, the bad and the thought-provoking, to provide some insight into how decisions were made and also to improve association communications pieces.
As in previous years, judges found that content is king. Clear, crisp, rich, strong content catapulted some publications from unranked to gold. From well-written statements of purpose to crisp marketing text in promotional materials, to strong content in monthly and quarterly publications, judges emphasized copy over and over. “The editorial sets the tone to find out about their audience, what they want and how they are changing,” one judge said.
Elements of design were paramount in the judging, as well. One piece was noted for being “compelling, visually instructional and appropriate. The execution and storytelling [was] done tastefully.” Yet another was lauded for its “thoughtful design and layout. The clean organization of content makes the piece navigable. The cover and color choices exhibit warmth and felling of touch and human content – clearly a goal of the piece.”
Use of “transparent papers, quotes, and haunting black and white imagery” set one piece apart; another was lauded for “bright modern colors, contemporary typeface, and a clean design.”
The gold-winning website, www.EatRight.org of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), was described by one judge as being “head and shoulders above all other entries...exemplary from its domain name to its inviting, warm, human vibe....[And] trumps all other entries on effectiveness, style, content, navigation, integration of social media, and features astonishing portraiture and photography. [This website] puts the cause first and inspires the visitor to join the movement.”
Drawing attention to negative aspects of the industry is not the best use of communications efforts, and judges did not appreciate as much pieces with negative tones, preferring instead messages of hope and inspiration. Judges also appreciated seeing a lot of advertising, which was indicative of the fact that publications were not dues-reliant.
Dense, research-heavy articles were less appreciated, with judges preferring instead research and educational information be presented in magazine-style format for easier reading and retained interest. Judges also did not like heavy use of industry jargon. On web interfaces, cluttered, clumsy navigation was a major detracting factor for judges. Similarly, print pieces with cluttered pages that overused graphics and fonts were not appreciated. Content that is simply straightforward is not compelling. To go to the time and expense to produce these publications, make sure to deliver good, strong content to ensure readers will appreciate the effort the organization has put into the piece. Be careful not to lose the audience to boredom!
The gold winner in the educational program category – APHON for Biologic and Chemo- therapeutic Therapy for the Non-Cancer Pediatric Patient – included a flash drive with actual training modules, assessments, and all of the forms necessary for users to apply for CE credits – so much information on a flash drive! The user is automatically transferred to a multi-session course, comparable to any accredited online collegiate series.
Use of mixed media was a plus in many entries; judges liked a combination of text with embedded video and links to Internet radio shows, quick-scan headlines and summaries, interactive calendars and monthly polls. Judges also repeatedly commented on the quality of materials of printed pieces. While heavy, quality stock was appreciated, an interesting note around matte – not glossy – paper in a publication being reflective of the casual manner of the intended audience made us say “hmm.” This shows that printing choices do not have to be expensive or top-of-the-line, but thoughtful and reflective of the organization’s mission and the piece’s intended audience.
The 2011 All Media Contest winners will be honored at the Salute to Association Excellence, Feb. 10 at the Capital Hilton in Washington. View the winning entries at www. AssociationTRENDS.com/salute. The call for entries for the 2012 All Media Contest will be issued in June. All media products produced from Nov. 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2012, will be eligible. Deadline for entries is Oct. 31. Details: www.AssociationTRENDS.com.