STC Competition Awards Banquet – It’s for You, too!

Did you ever think that the awards banquet was not for you since you didn’t participate in the competition? Well, think again. It’s the only opportunity you have to see all the winning entries that others submitted. What a great way to see what’s being done by your colleagues in the field! Pick up some tips on how to produce your next deliverable. Get inspired. You can even meet many of the authors and share stories about what it takes to produce a good product. And meet some judges. What motivates them to donate their time evaluating the competition entries, anyway? You might be surprised.

As if those opportunities were not enough, Mary Wise, a Senior Communications Manager for Fannie Mae, will deliver a keynote address. The event will be held at the historic DACOR Bacon House downtown.

Interviews with winners
To whet your appetite for the banquet, I interviewed the Best of Show winners in the technical art and the online communication categories. Here are paraphrases of our discussions.

Representing the online communication category was Glynis Parran of Westat.
Q: What was the nature of the project and the entry?
A: It is part of a training program for social science researchers. The program includes some in-class materials and some self-study materials. The particular award-winning entry is a DVD entitled “Gaining Cooperation: Contact, Connect, Convince” which aims to train researchers on gaining participation from research subjects.
Q: What do you think are the most outstanding characteristics of your competition entry?
A: It is presented as a TV talk show with a host and two guests. They discuss key aspects of the job (conducting research interviews). The format is attention-getting. And it’s divided into three segments. A trainer can embellish between segments with exercises, discussions, and role-playing.
Q: What types of professionals were on the project team?
A: Studio producers-Westat arranged with Interface Media to provide the studio where the production took place and some production assistance. Video producers-Westat arranged with Print Dragon Productions to provide video shoots outside the studio. Script writers, editors, and video graphics experts-Westat staff of about eight to ten worked on the project.
Q: What made you decide to enter the competition?
A: We participate every year in STC and we always win something. The feedback we get from STC judges is typically helpful, especially in guidelines about the level of detail and the use of color and graphics.

Representing the technical art category was Rob Wald of Palladian Partners.
Q: Describe the project.
A: It’s a poster promoting a meeting of scientists and practitioners on thyroid cancer. The poster was one part of a larger project that involved the logistics and planning of the meeting, and a website to register for it.
The timeframe we had to work on it was short-just a few days. Sometimes we do our best work under this kind of pressure. The poster is the work of one designer, Joan Barbour, who remained focused, drew on her experience, and relied on her instincts.
Q: What do you think are the most outstanding characteristics of your competition entry?
A: The way we took a simple photograph and did something dramatic with it. We put a human touch on a scientific topic in such a way that personalized thyroid cancer and lent emotional appeal to the research while not putting off the scientific and medical audience.
Q: What made you decide to enter the competition?
A: We are really proud of this poster. I think any time you’ve done work you’re proud of, you should enter it.
I have been participating in the competition since about 2002. I acknowledge it as a way for staff to gain recognition for their work, and for the company to gain recognition and prestige in the communication profession.
Q: What feedback did you receive from the judges that is particularly meaningful to you and why?
A: The feedback that STC provides is unique among other competitions we enter. With other competitions, we either get a letter saying we’ve won-with no further explanation-or we don’t hear from them at all if we don’t win. We always review the STC comments carefully and learn from them what we can.
Q: Is there anything you learned from the process that you’d like to share with others who may consider entering the competition in the future?
A: The competition is helpful to anyone considering entering. It makes you evaluate your work beforehand, which is always a good thing. We pay close attention to what we write in the application so the judges understand the nature and purpose of the entry.

The Best of Show winner in the technical publication category, Ginny Redish, was unavailable for an interview. But you can get a sense of the richness of her competition entry-her renowned new book Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works-from the list of features it touts:

  • Full-color throughout
  • Clearly explained guidelines
  • Examples throughout from actual web sites
  • Easy-to-read style with many “befores” and “afters”
  • Case studies showing how designers, writers, and developers improved web sites
  • Specific sections on press releases and on legal documents
  • Tips on making web content accessible for people with special needs

The book is showcased on her website.
Hope to see you at the banquet on Saturday, February 9th!

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