Greetings from the Awards Committee! We hope you had an enjoyable summer and have stashed away some copies of your best work in preparation for the January awards deadline.
Oh, you haven’t? As we dove into our list of last year’s disqualifications, here’s a statistic you may find interesting:
Nearly 33 percent of 2020’s entries were created within the 24 hours prior to deadline.
Additionally, those “final-day” submissions suffered from the highest rate of disqualifications.
Last-minute submission issues aren’t exactly a surprise to us, however we would challenge you to think about your submissions all year. We have heard very helpful comments from awards managers at stations who, for example, made a Google doc of the awards categories and then keep a running list of their possible submission items all year in that doc. If it’s clear early-on what a submission item might be, those write-ups and editing could begin well before December as time allows.
Check local listings for a workflow that’s best for you, but we believe keeping a running tally of your submission candidates as they occur is a great move, and it could make your internal awards meeting in November or December that much more organized and focused.
In addition to the living-breathing submissions list, consider generating a checklist of “gotchas” for your submitters to make sure each appropriate box is checked before submission. This can especially be helpful should you find yourself in that “last 24-hours” window.
The most common disqualification was for an entry being over or under time. Remember – and we cannot stress this enough – If the description says, “No more than 15 minutes in length” and the judge sees a video or audio timeline that opens up at 15:03… they will disqualify the entry. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if it has 3 seconds of silence or black at the end, the judges look at the rule, and the entry, and decide at that moment whether to continue with judging. We lost 11 entries last year due to over-or-under time. Please don’t become part of this club. Check your times!
Other disqualifications in 2020 were a bit more obvious: No script when a script was asked for, missing or broken links to examples, and 3-day compilation entries that did not include 3 separate days-worth of content. Read descriptions carefully to ensure you are providing all the items that are being asked for.
One item that I was a violator of back in my newsroom days was “Providing a PDF description when one wasn’t asked for.” Congratulations to you all for learning from my mistake. We’ve been able to make improvements to the submission form to help prevent this, and I am happy to report only one entry in 2020 was disqualified for a PDF-we-didn’t-ask-for.
Overall, our total percentage of disqualifications remained steady between 2019 and 2020 – less than 2.5 percent in each year. We send a sincere thank you for that, and hope that a little planning now will help your station stay out of the “24-hour Club” come January.
WBA Awards Committee