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Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest Open for Submissions

Since a number of members have inquired, we thought we’d share information on the 2015 Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest. The rules and submission form can be downloaded here.

 

Entries must be received at the national offices of The ESOP Association no later than February 17, 2015.

The winner of the contest will be announced at the 24th Annual Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, in Washington, DC. More information on the Awards Ceremony and the Annual Conference is here.

The judging guidelines are as follows:

  • Good employee owner education of Employee Ownership Month
  • Respect for the contributions of employee owners
  • Integration of the concepts of both employee ownership as well as the celebration of Employee Ownership Month into the fabric of the poster design
  • Encouragement of ownership attitudes in the poster design
  • Clear, simple design
  • Creative use of ideas
  • Good graphic design

Where should entries be sent?

Submit all Poster Contest entries to:

The ESOP Association

1726 M Street, N.W.

Suite 501

Washington, D.C. 20036-4507

Good luck!

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Conference Information,

Tips for Winning AACE

AACE 2015With the deadline for the 2015 AACE Awards deadline approaching, we thought we’d share a few tips on winning.

Download a copy of the 2015 AACE Awards brochure.

If you have questions concerning the AACE program, please contact Pat Barnes at (304) 876-3624 or by email at patbarnesart AT gmail.com.

Entering AACE – Things to Know First

  • 2015 Deadline – February 17th
  • Any current corporate member may enter.
  • Restrictions: A company may not be a Top Winner more than once each year.
    They can be a Runner Up Winner & a Top Winner, or Runner Up in several categories. They cannot win the same top award two years in a row. No such restrictions apply to Runner Up Winners.
  • You will be judged on ESOP/Ownership communications, not on products.
  • Materials are returned if you request it. (Do not send anything you cannot replace)
  • Entering AACE provides an opportunity to review your current communications program, look over the past, and plan for the future, in an organized way. It is a way of providing an illustrated, written record, over many years.
  • Come to the Annual Conference in May and you will be able to see what others have done, “borrow” (and improve on) good ideas, and meet and interact with other creative people in your field. Start to establish your own communications network, sparked by the knowledge, experience, and creativity of many.

Organizing Your Entry (Please read the entry form carefully!)

The entry format is slightly different for 2015. Enter by category, i.e. Printed Materials, Special Events, ESOP Advertising/Ownership Marketing, etc. (The Total Programs Category will be judged as an accumulation of all the rest). Each category should be represented by a notebook (don’t overfill!) or well-bound packet. It is important that it be well-marked with company name and category, and easy to find. You may have to duplicate materials entered in more than one category. Each category should have a brief commentary page in the front. This is your opportunity to communicate directly with the judges.

A link to Presentation Videos (place them on YouTube, 5 minute limit) and your web site (if you are entering this in the competition) should be sent to PatBarnesArt AT gmail.com  between February 1 and February 17th, 2015.

It is recommended, but not required, that you add to your entry with a display board, which does not have to pertain to any particular category. (Limit one). Use a standard sized foam core or cardboard backing, such as those used for science exhibits. Label everything with your company name, especially small things. Disks must be labeled with company, title and time. See the entry form for further information such as shipping requirements, weight limits, etc.

How AACE is Judged

There are five judges each year. An effort is made to procure outstanding, knowledgeable people, from different sizes, types and locations of companies, both male and female, and both management and line employee owners. Four judges are new, with the AACE Chair returning for continuity.

The judges only know what you tell them, so be clear in your commentary. Anecdotes are welcome! Organization, presentation, free items, etc. count, but above all else is content. The big question is, how well and how often are you communicating ownership?

Tips on Winning an AACE

  1. Notice everything you do/have with the words “ESOP” or “Ownership.” Start a file early on, and keep it current.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, start putting “employee owned” on everything; business cards, stationery, invoices, signs, trucks, advertisements, job applications, web sites, flags, product packaging, etc.
  3. Keep a camera on site. Designate a photography buff to take lots of pictures, and put them in the newsletter, on the web, on bulletin boards, and in the AACE entry.
  4. Consider making company events “ESOP” events, such as a picnic or a brown bag lunch, a parade float, or Employee Owners of XYZ Company working for Habitat for Humanity, or the Animal Shelter.
  5. How much and how often the ESOP is mentioned counts, such as in a newsletter, in the educational structure, the brochures, the web site. Does ownership permeate the company culture? Tell the judges.
  6. In printed materials, clear, easy to read information and good graphic design counts (not necessarily expense). Ownership communication content is paramount.
  7. Education about ESOP counts. The more informative, fun and creative the better.
  8. Tap into your funny, creative people. Fun and good humor are very powerful. Best of all, upper management with a sense of humor is invaluable, a huge asset.
  9. Consideration for the employee owner counts. Respectful feedback for suggestions is important. Is there a forum for concerns? Write it up as an asset.
  10. Employee owner involvement in the ownership aspect of the company, as well as in actually preparing the AACE entry counts.
  11. Having a theme can make it easier to plan a series of events, or a whole campaign. A fun theme often sparks creativity, and spins off ideas in new directions. It also makes things easier to remember.

Not an AACE Tip, But Important

  • Setting up lines of communication and building credibility in the good times makes it far easier to communicate in the bad times. Honesty is important.
  • Not communicating is still saying something.
  • According to research, ESOP companies who communicate ownership well are among the most productive companies.

A Few More Things to Remember

Have someone who always has access to a camera at all events. However, a flood of pictures really is not necessary; usually some good pictures, with a clear explanation of the event and how it tied into ESOP/Ownership understanding is better.

Judges love a theme — i.e. a “team theme,” a cruise theme, a game theme, a farm theme, etc. That sometimes makes it easier to plan events as well. The more fun you can put into it the better, while still educating (i.e. ESOP “Jeopardy” with a really nice prize). Mixing “old” and “new” ESOPpers to do a skit is a possibility. Someone did a silly (but wonderful) skit on Dorothy & the Land of Oz (ESOP) one year, including upper management.

Speaking of that, if you have management behind the communications effort, you have a “leg up” on the ladder. Their sincere belief in the ESOP goes a long way, and plays well in a video, as long as the employee owners are featured as well. (Avoid “talking heads” in a video as much as possible). If you can “mix up” the new/old employee owners and not just introduce the management to the new ones, it would probably mean more.

A lot of events can be labeled “ESOP” events, such as picnics (games with ESOP items for prizes?), Eggs ‘n ESOP, a team of employee owners helping Habitat for Humanity, an “ESOP Run” for charity, etc. High visibility of the ESOP logo, posters, cups, etc. is a good reminder. Don’t forget stationery, business cards, brochures, ESOP on the web and advertisements. And food!

Sometimes something simple can have great impact. In one company, only the management had their own ceramic cups for coffee. Everyone else had generic Styrofoam cups. When they introduced the ESOP, everyone got a ceramic cup, appropriately labeled. This was very symbolic, and was very successful. Another new ESOP company this past year had a meeting at which little black boxes tied with gold cord were given to the employee owners as they arrived, but they were told not to open them. At the end of the presentation, they opened the boxes to find a little mirror engraved with “Owner.” It was simple but to the point.

If you have a mentoring program, you might feature the program and how it works. A lot depends on the culture of your company and the proximity of other possible locations.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence,

January 2015 Monthly Wrap-up

As it turns out, January was a busy month…

We noted some upcoming events for February

We reported that the Department of Labor will not mandate ESOP appraisers be ERISA fiduciaries

The ESOP Association filed an amicus in Supreme Court case Tibble V. Edison Int’l

ESOP Association members were named Great Places to Work!

The January 2015 ESOP Report was published

We shared a guest post from AACE Awards Volunteer Coordinator, Paul Horn – 2015 AACE Awards

We highlighted a new report from the Center for American Progress that discusses inclusive prosperity

2015 conference sponsorship were announced

We mentioned a few ways to keep up with Association updates

2015 AACE Awards category information was shared

The Two Day Professional ESOP Forum was announced

The ESOP Administration Handbook was highlighted

ESOP Experts 2015 – If you’re interested, more info here

2015 AACE Awards — we told you what you need to know to enter this year

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Chapter News, Conference Information, DOL Proposed Fiduciary Regulation, Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, Retirement Issues, TEA Members,

Guest Post – 2015 AACE Awards

AACE 2015Since the deadline for the 2015 AACE (Annual Awards for Communications Excellence) Awards has been set (Tuesday, February 17, 2015), we thought it would be a good time to invite Paul Horn, volunteer coordinator for the AACE Awards Program, to talk about why the AACE Awards are important and why your company should enter.

 You can download a copy of the 2015 AACE Awards brochure and more information can be found on the Association’s website. Please take a close look as several categories have been updated for this year.

 

AACE is a great way to document your ESOP communications program and see how your company compares with other ESOP companies.

Are there ways to help your AACE submission stand out?

Be creative and think “outside the box.”  The AACE judges review numerous entries in a variety of categories.  Think of something different that will grab the judge’s attention.

Highlight your employees.  Active employee ownership is best evidenced with articles by and pictures of employees in action.

Homegrown education.  ESOP education and open book materials you develop yourself carry greater impact.  The more color you use, the more it will catch the eye.

Events.  Pictures and descriptions of company meetings and events are a great way to showcase your ownership spirit.  For example, meetings with elected officials, themed events, and community activities help make your submission memorable.  Make sure to document when the events occurred.

Fun.  Games, food, more games, and more food are always ESOP company favorites. The stranger the game, the more exotic the menu, and the greater the employee participation, the more likely your submission will stand out.

Organization.  Clearly document your category submissions. A display board and other company paraphernalia also will help draw attention to your materials.

Good luck and we look forward to receiving your 2015 AACE submissions.

Paul Horn is president of WorkPlace Consultants, LLC located in Bethesda, MD. He is a member of The ESOP Association’s Advisory Committee on Ownership Culture and a Chapter Officer of the Association’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, , ,

2015 AACE Awards Deadline

Reminder — the 2015 AACE Awards deadline for submissions is February 17, 2015! Information, guidelines, and entry forms are HERE. We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s entries.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence,

2015 AACE Awards Category Information

With the deadline approaching (all entries must be received by AACE Awards Program Manager, Pat Barnes, no later than February 17, 2015 to be considered for the 2015 competition), we thought we’d share information on the awards categories.

Information and entry forms can be found in the 2015 AACE Awards brochure which is available on the Association’s website. If you would like to view photos of last year’s entries, see the Association’s Flickr page.

AACE2015COVER

*Read entry procedures carefully!*

*Note: all entries are to be submitted by category, either tabbed or in separate notebooks. Label clearly.*

CATEGORY 1, TOTAL COMMUNICATIONS

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

*(Follow new entry procedure)*

This award recognizes excellence in a total communications program. Material should reflect a number of aspects of the company’s overall communications program.

Items submitted can include, but are not limited to, newsletters, brochures, promotional items, documentation of special events and meetings, educational material, press releases, advertising art, or any other medium the company uses to promote and explain the ESOP to its employee owners or the public, such as websites and intranets.

Note: if you wish to enter this category, mark it on the entry form, and all the other materials you send will be considered. If there is additional material not included in other submissions, put this extra material in an additional notebook or section and mark “Category 1”. CD/DVD disks or thumb drives should be labeled, put in the front of a notebook and noted on the entry form.

 

CATEGORY 2, PRESENTATION VIDEOS

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

*(Note new entry procedure)*

This award recognizes excellence in the use of video to promote the ESOP concept to employees or the outside world.

Note: presentation videos must be uploaded to YouTube and a link sent to PatBarnesArt AT gmail.com between February 1st and February 17th. There is a five (5) minute time limit. If your video is longer, only the first 5 minutes will be considered. Judges will be looking for ESOP/ownership related material. Content, editing, timing, visual, sound and technical qualities are important. Include the link on the entry form. Entry form must accompany your link, designating category entered.

 

CATEGORY 3, PRINTED MATERIALS

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

This award recognizes excellence in the use of original, printed informational materials which are used to communicate the company’s ESOP to employee owners, customers or the community. If the item contains other information, mark the ownership related information clearly. This can include PowerPoint presentations (send printed copy), banners (photos only) etc. Photos of things printed on trucks, signs and flags should probably be entered under marketing or special events.

 

CATEGORY 4, INTRANETS

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

*(Read entry procedures carefully)*

This award recognizes excellence in ESOP communication efforts using a company intranet, available to employee owners, usually in a password protected area.

Note: a restricted area for judges to view is acceptable where judges are granted access with a link and a password. Alternatively, PDF (readable with the free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader), JPG, OR PNG files are acceptable file types for CD/DVD entries. A printed copy may be submitted, with private information blacked out, but it must be readable or will be disqualified from judging. Full page screen shots showing what would be visible in a browser are acceptable. If using a link, provide it on the entry form.

 

CATEGORY 5, ESOP ADVERTISING/OWNERSHIP MARKETING

*(Read carefully, as divisions are now by size)*

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

This award recognizes excellence in print advertising/marketing pieces that are used to promote a company and its ESOP to the outside world. Marketing materials must reference the ESOP or ownership. Mark these references with a sticky note. Consider such things as brochures, marketing materials, marketing videos (see guidelines), print advertisements in newspapers, magazines, on company vehicles, license plates, banners, etc. Also social media, such as YouTube, Twitter, blogs, etc. qualify as long as links or specific access instructions are given on the entry form. Label all items with company name. Please do not send products.

This award includes recognition of excellence in the creative integration of the ESOP concept and ownership into the company web site. The quality and amount of ownership content, ease of access, clarity, presentation and consideration of audience are important. Note: links to web sites should be sent to PatBarnesArt AT gmail.com between February 1st and February 17th. The web site address should also be listed on the entry form.

 

CATEGORY 6, SPECIAL EVENTS & PROMOTIONS – ONE OUTSTANDING EVENT

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

This award recognizes excellence in the organization and creativity involved in one significant ownership event, such as a special celebration, ESOP community service day, parade float, etc. Label all items with company name.

 

CATEGORY 7, SPECIAL EVENTS & PROMOTIONS – SERIES OF EVENTS

Division A: 250 or Fewer Employees

Division B: Over 250 Employees

This award recognizes excellence in the organization and creativity involved in a series of ownership events. Employee Ownership Month events are often entered in this category. Send photos of trucks, banners and other oversize items, as well as events. Label all items with company name.

 

Any current Corporate Member of The ESOP Association is eligible to enter the 2015 AACE Awards. Each Corporate Member is encouraged to enter independently whether entered in other communications competitions or not.

If you have questions, contact AACE Program Director, Pat Barnes, at (304) 876-3624 or PatBarnesArt AT gmail.com.

The judges, who are ESOP company leaders, look forward to seeing your company’s 2015 entry!

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence

2015 AACE Awards — What You Need to Know

Information and entry forms for 2015 are available on the Association’s website. Below is all you need to know about the 2015 awards and how to enter. Want to share the information with others in your company such as the ESOP Communication Committees, use this link. The following video is also a great way to share info with colleagues.

What are the AACE Awards?

esopaacedarkerThe AACE Awards — Annual Awards for Communications Excellence — are sponsored each year by the Association to recognize the outstanding communications and educational programs of its members. The awards are presented at the Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC to companies who have excelled in communicating the ESOP and its meaning to employee owners.

AACE Award winners are chosen by a panel of five judges made up of both management and non-management employee owners, each of whom has demonstrated active experience and interest in the field of ESOPs and employee ownership communications. Awards are based on: overall quality and quantity of employee owner education, contributions of employee owners, integration of the ESOP into company culture, frequency of ownership communications, involvement and/or response of employee owners, encouragement of ownership attitudes, clear explanations, creative ideas, graphic design, and technical quality.

Some interesting statistics about the AACE program:

  • Since 1992, 214 companies have entered AACE.
  • The majority of companies that enter AACE have less than 250 employees.
  • Of the Association’s 18 Chapters, there has been at least one entry from every Chapter since the start of the program. The New England Chapter tops the list with 27 entries, followed by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter with 22 entries, and the California/Western States Chapter rounds out the top three with 21 entries.

 

Who is eligible? What does it cost to enter? Deadline for 2015?

Any current corporate member of the Association is eligible to enter. There is no entry fee for the AACE Awards beyond the initial cost of shipping; all other shipping costs are covered by the Association. The deadline for 2015 entries is February 17, 2015.

 

Where do I find AACE information?

On the Association’s website. Go to About the Association. Click ESOP Awards and then AACE Awards.

 

Save the date!

The ESOP Association’s 24th Annual Awards Ceremony to honor AACE Award winners will take place Wednesday, May 6, 2015, the night before the opening of the Annual Conference in Washington, DC. The Annual Conference will take place May 7 & 8, 2015 and will feature a display of all 2015 AACE Awards entries. Plan to stop by the display, connect with other employee owners, and take the opportunity to view the creativity on display.

2015 Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony info.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence,

AACE Awards 2015

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, talks about the 2015 AACE Awards (Annual Awards for Communications Excellence) program, why all Association members should enter, and the importance of the program for the employee ownership culture community.

2015 Entry Deadline: February 17, 2015

More info on the AACE Awards.

Photos of AACE Award entries.

 

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Member Services, TEA Members,

AACE Awards — A few Interesting Facts about the Program

esopaacedarkerIn doing some historical research into the AACE Awards program this summer, ESOP Association staff came across some interesting facts. First, a bit of background on the AACE program. The AACE Awards are sponsored each year by the Association to recognize the outstanding communications and educational programs of its members. The AACE Awards are presented each year at the Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC to companies who have excelled in communicating the ESOP and its meaning to employee owners. AACE Award winners are chosen by a panel of five judges made up of both management and non-management employee owners, each of whom has demonstrated active experience and interest in the field of ESOPs and employee ownership communications.

Additional information about the AACE Awards program, including the program brochure (the 2015 AACE Awards brochure will be available in the coming months), tips on winning, and a list of the 2014 winners, can be found here.  AACE Awards videos can be found on the Association’s YouTube Channel as well.  If you have questions concerning the AACE program, please contact Pat Barnes at (304) 876-3624 or by email at patbarnesart AT gmail.com.

Starting with 1992, as far back as staff were able to trace records, 214 ESOP companies have entered the AACE program. Breaking the numbers down by Chapter, the New England Chapter leads the way with 27 entries. The full breakdown: New England (27); Mid-Atlantic (22); California/Western States (21); Ohio/Kentucky (20); Minnesota/Dakotas (15); Southwest (14); New South (12); Pennsylvania/Delaware (11); Carolinas (10); Iowa/Nebraska (9); Heart of America (8); Illinois (8); New York/New Jersey (8); Wisconsin (6); Northwest (5); Indiana (4); Michigan (4); Hawaii (1).

According to information available in the Association’s database:

  • The majority of companies entering AACE have less than 250 employees
  • Average ESOP % of companies entering AACE is 71.77%
  • 72 of the 214 companies that have entered AACE are 100%
  • Average year the ESOP was established for companies entering AACE is 1994
  • Average year the company was established for companies entering AACE is 1962

Totaling up the companies with the most entries and wins:

  • The company that has entered the most number of times is ComSonics, Inc. (Harrisonburg, VA) with 15 entries since 1992. They have won nine AACE awards and nine runner up awards.
  • Company with the most wins overall is Burns & McDonnell (Kansas City, MO) with 10. As a side note, Burns & McDonnell has entered 10 times and won an AACE Awards every time they have entered; including 3 runner up awards.

Does your company have an ESOP education committee? Take a look around and see what your company has to offer. You might just be the next AACE Award winner. The ESOP Association works to promote the best and brightest throughout the ESOP community. Help us show off your company’s hard work.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence

May 2014 Wrap-Up

It’s June and that means it’s time for a May link round up.

Moody’s Collision Centers, Inc. hosted an event with Senator Susan Collins in Gorham, ME

We shared a photo of the 2014 Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest Winner

The May 2014 ESOP Report was released

We highlighted the ABCs of ESOPs

The Employee Owner Retreat is open for registration

Big G Express hosted at event with Congresswoman Diane Black in Shelbyville, TN

We shared some photos from the 2014 Annual Conference in Washington, DC

The Leading in an Ownership Setting Program is open for registration

We featured items from the Employee Ownership Foundation Auction that took place at the Annual Conference

We announced the 2014 ESOP Award Winners

We shared video highlights from the Awards Ceremony

We shared a link to the Annual Conference Lobbying Kit

We extended an invitation to Conference attendees to visit the AACE Awards display

The Annual Conference App was announced

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation, Employee Ownership Month (EOM), Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, Silver ESOP Awards, TEA Members,

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