IABC NSW Board Member Ben Wyld reflects on what winning an IABC Gold Quill Award meant for him
Next week’s IABC NSW event ‘Do you have what it takes to win a Gold Quill’ got me thinking – what did winning a Gold Quill mean for me?
I was fortunate enough to have previously worked in a communication team that won two IABC Gold Quill Awards, in 2009 and 2012 respectively. The team was hard-working, the output was high-volume and, in respect of these two award-winning communication vehicles, high-impact.
We had done the ground-work, as a team we had worked to identify measurable business problems, and then set about designing and implementing communication programs to address these. Along the way we tested, measured and documented – listening regularly to our audience for feedback and meaning (most importantly, validating that we had in fact identified the real problem to solve). We made adjustments if necessary, based on what we learnt, but the whole time we never lost sight of the specific problems we had set out to address.
What wasn’t evident was that as a team we were working at a world-class level. We were in the churn of ‘getting the job done’ and working in a state of ‘heads down, tail up’. Upon reflection, we were like most professional communicators I know, reticent to be seen as promoting our professional skill-sets, achievements and business value.
In the lead-up to next week’s event, where teams from Foxtel and QBE will showcase their award-winning work from the 2016 Awards, I’d like to share five reasons why you should enter the 2017 IABC Gold Quill Awards.
It’s a game-changer
Just how do you stack up with the world’s best? The Gold Quill Awards program measures and benchmarks your work against the best strategic communicators in the world. The outcome can and does change the perceptions of those around you and perhaps most importantly, your self-perception and confidence about what you can achieve. It helps to build your individual reputation and at a collective level, it builds credibility and recognition of communication as a profession – and that can only be a good thing for us all.
It gives you licence to learn and grow
The rigorous submission and judging process forces you to take stock. What worked, what didn’t, what would you change if you had your time again? Opportunities for professional reflection for busy communicators are few and far between, but the Gold Quill Awards present that opportunity. The judges’ review and comments are rich in thought and detail, while keeping across how other award winners achieve outcomes for their respective organisations or clients across the globe helps to spark new ideas or cross-pollinate those sitting on the back-burners. In the communication game, can you ever afford to take your finger off the pulse or stay still?
Which in turn makes you braver … and better
Accolades and recognition are, for most of us, intrinsically satisfying. The thing about achieving global recognition is that it makes you – explicitly or not – seek out further opportunities. It changes and raises the expectations you set each day about how you go about and execute your work as an individual or as part of a team. In short, it changes the way you work. In my experience, internal and team dialogue shifted from ‘why’, ‘we can’t’, ‘we shouldn’t’ and ‘no’ to ‘why not’, ‘we can’, ‘we should’ and ‘yes, let’s go’. Ideas blossomed, group meetings and scrums – where everyone was given an opportunity to have their voice heard – became common-place, and collaboration was firmly at the centre. Not every idea was a winner, not every conversation resulted in a happy consensus and sometimes a hard decision needed to be made. But these workplace behaviours and practices have stuck with me throughout my career and made me a better communicator and colleague.
Diversify and multi-skill
The Gold Quill Awards program spans the spectrum of communication – from leadership and management communication to human resources, marketing and brand communication to community and customer relations (and all this, across print and digital mediums).
The awards program provides individuals and teams the opportunity to identify areas and grow professional skillsets accordingly. The evolution I experienced individually and at a team level, between the two Gold Quill Award wins, was from a print-centric focus and strength to being recognised among the world’s best in strategic digital communication. It set in motion for me a path of career development and ongoing learning.
Build professional networks
As the adage goes, the only thing constant is change. Awards, teams and colleagues come and go, but I’m proud to say the professional relationships built during the time of those award wins remain. The lessons learned during that time have stood me in good stead and I’m grateful to my team-mates and the contractors and specialists that I had the opportunity to collaborate with. In many cases, it has led to ongoing partnerships, mentorship, opportunities, support and in a few cases, some wonderful and enduring friendships.
• Register for the IABC NSW event to hear about Foxtel and QBE’s award-winning work
• Check out this great advice from the co-chair of the Asia-Pacific IABC Gold Quill 2015-2016 evaluation panels Jonathan Champ
• Visit the IABC’s Gold Quill website for details about the 2017 program.