5 Tips That Can Help Your Creative Work Win Communication Awards

Planning to enter your organization’s or client’s work for an award? Consider these 5 tips while submitting your entry and boost your chances of winning laurels.

Pitch it like an ad:  When you are competing with numerous entries for an award it is helpful to catch the jury’s attention easily. The entry – if a campaign, needs to highlight how it is sustainable, engaging, game changing and memorable. Remember that the judges are busy people and if they are evaluating entries for multiple categories the chances are that they have limited time on hand. Make it intuitive and simple for them to gain insights on why your campaign hits the right note. Use infographics and creative ways of showcasing your work. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy appeal.

Balance the heart and head: A campaign that doesn’t appeal to both these elements will rarely get the attention of the jury or for that matter the audiences they are intended to target.  Share how the campaign evoked the audience’s participation and made a powerful statement which transcended the initial brief. Include hard data points and the softer touch which made the campaign come alive.



Simplicity and consistency:  Nothing can beat the simplicity of a campaign – how it was easy for the audience to contribute, how it involved them and helped make it their own. Also what made the campaign look and feel the same across any platform or device or geography that it was executed in. Furthermore, if the campaign can be run by a third party without the involvement of the creator you have a winning entry.

Thought and focus: Did the campaign hinge on thorough research and draw deep insights from audiences before crafting the solution? If yes, you are on track to make a mark vis-à-vis your peers. Was the campaign linked with the business agenda? If yes, it has a greater chance of landing a metal. Lastly, was it outcome oriented? If yes, your campaign is worthy of recognition.

Strategy and execution: To make a lasting long term impact your campaign is expected to work seamlessly from strategy through execution.  The jury may not be able to sense that from your content easily and therefore it is tougher selling this crucial part of the award entry.  Demonstrate how your leadership’s involvement links strategy to execution. Highlight how your organization or client is living the campaign beyond just the award entry.

I had the honor of serving as a member of the 2015 #SABREAwards Jury for South Asia which concluded recently. Was inspired by the creativity and passion showcased in the entries.

Engagement Is Every Employee’s Responsibility

Think about it.

  • Did you join an organization expecting others to engage you? Or did you join because you felt the organization fit with your values and you offered skills that could possibly improve the success of the firm?
  • Did you expect to be waited on by others to deliver results? Or did you join because it offered you an opportunity to make a lasting difference?

My blog post – Is ‘Entertainment= Employee Engagement?’ received interesting viewpoints from many readers. Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your comments.

Yes, organizations do have a role to make the culture conducive and to fulfil employees’ potential. Likewise, managers have a role to provide support, line of sight, remove obstacles from the path of employees who can deliver great work and share opportunities for growth and learning.  For inputs on these thoughts, please refer to  presentation slides I shared during an employee engagement masterclass at Praxis 2013.


Every piece of work can be engaging and it is for leaders and managers to help employees see it that way. It may not always be fun but if they know ‘why’ it is being done and how the stakeholder is impacted for the better – they can definitely gain from that experience.

Here are a few approaches that can help you put the ownership and focus on employees:

Dig deeper: Often we get caught up in the semantics.  Have we asked employees what they really want to be effective at work? What is their definition of fun? Is it making work fun or having fun at the workplace? If work pressure is a concern then that needs to be tackled first rather than help they distress with another set of initiatives.

Ask the right questions: Will any employee ever say they don’t want to be entertained? Instead ask – what is that they need to be most engaged at work? When have they been at their best? What helped them stay in the ‘flow’? Tap those levers rather than craft a new bunch of initiatives that will stress out everyone involved!

Hiring right: If you need to engage your employees consider if the hiring process is robust enough.  Asking the right questions can also help you sort and seek appropriate talent. It helps to set expectations upfront and early so that there are no misplaced feelings after your employees join.

Appeal to the inner self: Help employees think about why they work and what motivates their actions. If they can be their best at work they the chances of them being engaged are high. Provide challenging work, enable employees to deliver more, provide opportunities to learn and grow. Never forget to recognize real-time and often.

Give employees ownership: Allow employees to define and own ‘fun’. If it works for them and they continue to deliver the best, it should be fine. No amount of fun and entertainment has ever got business results.  Hard work has – if the work was interesting and engaging.

Focus on what matters: Companies are in the business of doing great work and serving their customers and if resources are allocated for organizing events and entertainment there is very little room for focusing on initiatives that can truly improve employee engagement.

What are your views?


Is Entertainment =Employee Engagement?

Jacob and his leadership team at Optic Data -a global analytics firm are concerned about their employee engagement survey results.  The overall scores are well below the industry average and their 10,000+ strong employee strength at 4 locations in the country is dwindling due to high attrition. They gathered employees in a focus group and asked managers what they felt about the results and reasons. They heard that employees wanted to be more connected and engaged.

The young workforce preferred lesser work load and more ‘fun’ in the office. The managers weren’t sure what to do about ‘fun’ and the work load wasn’t going to get any easier considering heightened competition and increased demand from clients. The leadership team spoke with employees directly and they continued to hear that the word ‘fun at the workplace’ come up in most discussions. They gathered to debate the implications of these findings and the subsequent actions to be taken. Reflect on this case study and share what you think must be the way forward for Jacob and team.

Jacob (CEO): “This survey result is a wake-up call for us. It definitely needs addressing. I am unable to fathom what is causing this even though it says that employees are seeking more face time with managers, improved infrastructure, more recognition and increased pay.”

Nina (HR Head): “I am afraid this isn’t a trend in other companies – which means we have a problem on our hands. “

Deepa (IT Director): “In my team I can say for sure the mind-set is different. They aren’t wired to have fun. They want to have better roles and see growth for themselves. I am not sure fun will solve anything.”



Hari (Process Director): “I disagree. In my team it is about breaking the monotony of daily work. They need to let their hair down and distress. Entertainment might work.”

Jacob: “Curious to know – how many in this room think that entertainment would keen you personally engaged?”

Noticing nervous glances Jacob realized he wasn’t going to get a response. He continues.

“I meant – how many of you came in to this organization expecting the company to be engaging you?”

Tom: (Finance Director) “Not me. I was excited to join, saw the potential for growth and was impressed by the company’s achievements.  My role is of interest and that keeps me going.”

Nina: “Same with me. I heard of this company and with big data the next big wave; this was the place to be!”

Hari: “I suggest we organize some fun and games in the workplace – movies on Fridays, give away ice-creams, put bean bags in the lounge spaces and create a gaming zone.”

Deepa: “Good ideas. We should also consider music shows and theatre in the offices”

Nina: (looking skeptical) “Isn’t that a lot of work to get all these done and won’t it take away focus from what we are supposed to do – deliver the best solutions and services for our customers?”

Tom: “I agree. It will see a productivity drop and our clients may get worried about the results we are supposed to deliver against.”

Jacob: “Is it about making the workplace fun or have fun in the workplace? Can entertainment solve engagement? How do we even know that it will do any good to their morale? I am unsure we are getting anywhere with this. Can I request you to mull over our strategy and come back with a clear decision on what we must actually do?”

All nod their heads, agree to do more thinking about this situation and come back.

What can the group do? What is your point of view? Please share it here.

What is your Internal Communication SINPO Rating?

As a young DXer I often tuned in to many interesting stations on a Sony short wave radio that my father had. I had to carefully turn the dial and catch the signal from a station while keeping the antenna near a window!

Getting through to stations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Australia, Radio Sweden and Radio Netherlands helped increase my understanding of the world outside and gave me insights on audience engagement practices.


Those days, radio stations provided a snail mail address for listeners to correspond with and send back a QSL card. The listener shared specifics details about the reception (in terms of a SINPO rating – signal, interference, noise, propagation and overall) from that part of the world and it helped the radio station know how to adjust their frequency to get to most listeners. The scale for each variable extended from 1 (lowest) to 5 (the highest) in terms of strength.

The QSL card served as a collector’s item for the listener and also provided insights about the station and the country’s culture. It often took weeks to send an aerogramme and then receive a response. This experience of corresponding with radio stations, receiving reception reports and getting QSL cards exposed me to surveying and feedback mechanisms relevant to communication.

Today, when I relate this experience to work many elements continue to explain internal communication. From a process context we are aware that in communication there is a sender and a receiver. Noise and interference comes in the way of accepting messages shared.

Signal is about the strength of the transmission and with internal communication is the quality of the messages that are sent. Interference is about the overlaps that exist among stations operating in similar or adjacent frequencies and we often know how conflicting messages or timing can impact the acceptance of internal communication. Noise from a short wave perspective relates to the cacophony of content that jar the reception and come in the way of the good communication. Propagation is to do with consistency of communication and Overall relates to the audience’s experience with messages shared.

If you look at your internal communication practices from this lens you may be able to draw inferences on how your audiences are interacting and experiencing what you share.

Interested to know what you think.