I was up early today for a Saturday. I helped judge a category of IABC’s Gold Quill Awards competition, led by Katherine George, ABC, CAE. A team of us met at KG’s home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to judge the entries. As usual, KG had it all arranged for maximum effectiveness. She is a master organizer.
As my 2003 certified pre-owned Buick Park Avenue sliced through the cold morning air in route, I thought about how well designed and orchestrated IABC’s Gold Quill competition is. I am a huge fan of the work plan being 50 percent of the score. The other 50 percent is the entry itself. But the work plan comes first.
The work plan requires an entrant to demonstrate strategic thinking and succinctly summarize a strategic plan for whatever is being entered. You can’t just do pretty stuff and win a Gold Quill. You must have: a clear and relevant statement of need; clearly identified and described appropriate audiences; well-defined goals and measurable objectives; logical, creative, and salient messages, media, and tactics; effective budget detail, time frames, and resources; and measurement and evaluation that prove results empirically.
I work hard to teach my students the need to think like the Gold Quill work plan instructs us to think. Students learn strategic communication/PR planning and management in my classes. But I want them to know that this is not just some academic exercise. This is the way true professionals think, work, and manage successful communication/PR programs. This is the real deal. The best among us do this with professionalism, creativity, and solid management skills.
We’ll see those people accepting their Gold Quills in New Orleans this June at IABC’s International Conference. And we’ll see my students who learn to think and manage communication/PR programs strategically get great jobs and have bright careers when they graduate.