STC WDC Wins Community of Distinction Award

Congratulations to our entire chapter for being such a vibrant community of professionals! For the first time ever, the STC Washington, DC chapter has won a Community of Distinction award, the most prestigious level in STC’s Community Achievement Award program!

Below is an excerpt from the notice we received from Rachel Houghton, Member STC Community Achievement Award Evaluation Committee (CAAEC).

.. the STC Washington, D.C. chapter has earned the Community of Distinction award for 2008-2009. The citation on your certificate will read:

For your collaboration with related organizations, your unique membership promotion, your use of social networking to increase community visibility, and your extremely accessible website transformation.STC Community Achievement Award Evaluation Committee

Your community will be recognized during the Leadership Day event on Sunday, May 3, at the Tech Comm Summit in Atlanta…

In addition, the STC Washington, DC community will be recognized at the Honors Banquet on Tuesday, May 5. At that event, all STC Washington, DC members will be welcomed on stage to receive congratulations from the STC president, Cindy Currie, and Immediate Past President, Mark Clifford.

The judges praised the high caliber of our volunteers, the way we used Cvent for a unique membership promotion this past January, our new accessible website design and the valuable resources on that website, the many ways we communicate with our members, the way we use LinkedIn to increase our visibility, and Cynthia Lockley’s redesign of several STC logos. Cynthia is also our webmaster and we have her to thank for our excellent website.

Though the judges didn’t specifically mention it, we all also know that our annual Technical Communication Competitions are consistently well run and result in internationally-recognized professional work. Thanks for taking the helm for the past two years, Lina Scorza!

The Joy of Entering the 2008-2009 Competitions

Deadline is 20 October.

Landsat image of WDC
Put your best work on the map! Photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
In the fall, STC chapters hold local competitions. As the 2008-2009 Competitions Manager of the Washington DC chapter, I am continuing the tradition of presenting some of the reasons that technical communication professionals might enjoy entering the competitions.

Would you like to be an award-winning technical communicator? For those of you who haven’t entered before, let me explain the basics. Washington area experts gather to evaluate the entries in the Technical Publications, Technical Art, and Online Communication Competitions. Our competitions receive entries from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from other states and from other countries. The judges provide comments on the strengths of each entry and make recommendations that you can apply in future endeavors.

Some of the joys of entering are the pride you have in putting forth your best work, the validation you feel by being measured against the highest standards in our profession, and the opportunity to receive feedback from a knowledgeable and thoughtful critique of your entry. As an entrant, you are proud of your accomplishments. You and the judges realize that the final entry represents months of planning, writing, editing, and publishing. Submitting a publication or online entry is a great way to keep growing in a fast-paced industry. Having your decisions and standards recognized by industry experts is real insider validation!

As an entrant, you’ll be invited to the Awards Celebration, where you will be able to see what others in our field are producing. The Awards Celebration is also the place to network with the technical communication community.

Fall is the time to submit your best work to the scrutiny of your fellow professionals. Now is the time to consider what you want to enter and to get it prepared. Check the Chapter Competitions page at for all the details on categories, requirements, and instructions. Good luck!

The Joy of Judging

The STC Washington, DC Chapter’s annual Technical Publications, Online Communication, and Technical Art Competitions are open to receive entries. Would you like to see them? Are you ready to help evaluate them? If you think you may be, here’s the gist of what’s in store.

The Call for Entries in over 20 categories of technical communication goes out in late August. This year, the deadline for submission of entries is October 20. The competitions could not be held successfully without the commitment of a group of qualified and enthusiastic judges. The judges are recruited from among professional communicators in the DC area and beyond. Membership in STC for both entrants and judges is common, but not required.

Early in November, the judges assemble to receive their judging materials, entries, and instructions. They meet the other members of their judging team, get training from experienced judges on how to evaluate an entry, and have their questions answered. Over the next four weeks, judges read and examine the entries. They discover—or rediscover—the joy of encountering excellence in published manuals, brochures, magazines, help systems, and Web sites. As they begin to form opinions and record their evaluations, the judges apply all the knowledge and experience at their disposal.

WDC competition judging.
WDC competition judging.
They prepare their comments for the entrants and a defense of their decisions for the consensus meeting.

In December, the judges meet again to discuss the entries and decide which ones deserve an award. Some entries stand out as award winners; others elicit debate. The judges relish the opportunity to compare notes on design, presentation of information, layout, and overall quality. By the end of the meeting, a consensus is reached on award levels and the Competition Committee can begin the process of notifying the winners and non-winners, choosing the Best of Show, and sending the very best to the STC International Competition. The judges, both veteran and new, leave with a sense of a job well done. They have judged the work of their peers and shared their passion for excellence in communication. Many will be eager to do it all over again in future years.

If you are ready to experience the joy of judging, we need your help. For more information about judging entries and the types of judges needed, see the Competition website for

  • Call for Judges
  • Judge Application form
  • Schedule for Judges
  • Competition Categories

Thank you!