Home' Local Media Today : May 2005 Contents 8
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Elaine Clisham, Director of Marketing at
American Press Institute was one of the
judges for the 2004 SNA Ad &
Promotions contest - a contest that drew
1,100 entries. That’s a lot of entries for
the panel of judges to review and Elaine
was kind of enough to summarize some
observations immediately following last
years judging. Here are some excerpts
that should help SNA members as they
prepare their entries for the sure to be
competitive 2005 contest. All entries for
the current contest must be postmarked
by May 13.
excerpted from column
by Elaine Clisham
The observations fall
into two categories –
first, advice for newspapers that enter the
contest, and second, some philosophical
thoughts on what became important in
the judging and what we can learn from
that both for future contests and for the
future of our organizations.
We have three basic pieces of advice for
entrants. First, follow the instructions.
Make sure your entry is going into the
correct category. I can’t tell you how
many one-shot special sections we found
entered in the “regularly (at least month-
ly) published feature section” category.
One of two things happened to those
entries: if you were lucky, the correct
category hadn’t been judged yet and the
entry got reclassified. If
the correct category was
already finished, we
merely disqualified the
entry and moved on. In a
couple of cases, the entry
may have done well had
it been classified correct-
ly and we really regretted
not being able to include
Second, please provide
all the information
requested on the entry
form, including which
you’re entering. We had
to call a couple of news-
papers to ask their circu-
lation when an entry form
had no indication.
(Suggestion #. 3: Make
sure the people at your
newspaper who answer
the phone know your cir-
culation. At one of the
newspapers we called no
one could answer the
Third, the entry form also asks for
results from the ad, campaign or sec-
tion, which was where we found the
biggest shortage of information. A miss-
ing answer or a simple “Advertiser was
very pleased” was nowhere near as effec-
tive as “Advertiser sold 450 additional
widgets as a direct result of this ad and
has doubled his schedule with us
between now and December.” (Yes, it
does happen!) Please provide as much
detail as possible if an ad or section has
worked well; it can only help you.
According to SNA the purpose of the
contest is to “recognize outstanding con-
tributions to the quality of advertising ...
promotional and marketing programs.” I
think contest judges in general take this
charge very seriously and want to reward
really outstanding work, so be sure
you’re sending us your best.
Our other observations had more to do
with the nature of the entries we saw,
and with the level of creativity that came
from some surprising corners.
According to the Readership Institute, if
our industry is to survive we will all
need to learn the art and science of true
innovation, so innovation was the guid-
ing concept by which we judged.
Without exception a good, clever, sus-
tainable or transferable new idea always
won out over superior execution of an
idea we’d seen before. Case in point:
We looked at a lot of upscale-lifestyle
magazines, including some that were
absolutely stunning visually. But in
terms of content and distribution, the for-
mula was pretty standard and it was hard
to discern a lot of new ideas. It’s not
that we shouldn’t be doing lifestyle mag-
azines – of course we should – but they
didn’t represent the most innovative
thinking we saw.
True “wow-that’s-a-great-idea” innova-
tion came from some surprising places. I
think the biggest observation we all had
is that there’s some really good, cool,
innovative stuff coming out of the very
smallest newspapers. In general, we all
noticed that the farther up the circulation
ladder we went, where it would be rea-
sonable to assume greater quantities of
resources and brainpower, the more rou-
tine the entries appeared.
The truly outstanding entries represent
the kind of ideas that will sustain our
industry going forward. It was an honor
and a pleasure to select them as winners.
The real benefit to everyone, though, is
the contribution of these ideas to an
industry that still has plenty to learn
about how to bring excitement to con-
sumers, and for that the entrants should
all have our thanks as well.
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Entries For Advertising & Promotions Contest Must Be
Postmarked By May 13;Valuable Tips From Last Years’ Judges
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