On the AACE Awards section of the Association’s website, there is a tips for winning section which contains information on what you need to know about AACE, how to organize your entry, how AACE is judged, and a few tips on what makes a winning AACE entry.
First, a thank you to AACE Program Manager, Pat Barnes, for sharing the following information. If you have any questions about AACE, please feel free to contact Pat at patbarnesartATgmail.com.
Also, mark your calendar — the deadline for 2013 AACE Awards entries is March 1, 2013.
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 (although The ESOP Association usually tries to avoid promoting a gambling 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.
Organization of an AACE entry is important. A clear, concise commentary on the situation, how it was addressed and if it was effective (and how did you determine that – survey, etc). is your opportunity to “tell your story” to the judges. If you have just a few things to enter, you probably want to enter an individual category. For more than just a few, enter the Total Program Category, plus the individual categories as well. (You can’t win that crystal obelisk two years in a row for the same category).
Many companies enter with an organized notebook, and although it is not necessary, a tri-fold foam core display board such as those used in science fairs. (Please don’t send heavy or oversized display boards, as shipping costs are very high. Also please limit your entry to one display board.) Notebooks are surprisingly fragile, so don’t overfill them or the rings may warp in transit. It’s better to use two notebooks than one overfilled one. Also, weight limit per box is 30 pounds. Please do not send products, or product materials unless they specifically relate to ownership/ESOP. There is no need to send duplicate materials. Banners? A nice photograph will do. Trucks? A nice photograph will do there, too.
The AACE Program started with eight small entries 26 years ago, and has grown until entering, seeing what others have done and networking with peers has become one of the most productive benefits afforded by The ESOP Association in the ownership communications field. There’s also the fact that you’ve made an overview and now have a record of your ownership communications in the past year. Be sure to enter and take full advantage of this program. Deadline for arrival of entry is March 1, 2013.
A few more AACE Awards resources:
The list of 2012 AACE Award winners
Have a question or a comment about an entry, contact the company and ask. In our experience, companies who enter AACE are happy to talk about their entries.
Want to know what caught a judge’s eye, read the comments and find out.
Paul Horn, the volunteer chair of the AACE Program, wrote a guest post with a few tips on winning as well.
Take a look at the 2011 AACE Awards videos: