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News: CINDY Awards

Make your (Award-winning) Work, Work for You

By Phillip N. Shuey

CINDY AwardsFrankly, the notion of entering award events and festivals might seem anathema to some of you. You don’t see the point. “My work speaks for itself” is a familiar refrain. Other folks just find the process of competition offensive in itself because they simply don’t like tooting their own horn if they win. But consider this: The next time you fail to win a bid, to close a deal on the strength of your creative proposal alone, to get your department’s budget approved exactly as you submitted it, to get that raise you so justly deserve, or to receive that production grant you absolutely knew you were perfect for, ask yourself: “What could I have done to make that difference between success and failure?” Consider the following media makers, the environments they work in, and what they do to “win” more often than they “lose.”

Over the next few issues of Markee 2.0, we will introduce you to some very interesting digital media producers who work in a wide variety of environments and locales. They come from both the private sector and the public sector, including government, industry, education, the arts, advertising, commercial production, independent documentary production, and a host of other arenas where our industry’s finest award-winning media makers are found.

These producers will share with you the tools they use every day to become successful and stay competitive doing the work they love. You’ll learn how they manage themselves, their people, their suppliers, and sub-contractors—even their clients. They’ll share their experiences on how to raise, better utilize, and retain capital, as well as how they attract, encompass, and retain creative people who help them succeed.

These folks come in all sizes and shapes, as do their customers. Some serve large regional markets while others compete in small, specialized niche markets.

As an example, Jana heads up the in-house media production department of a large American manufacturer with a sales and production presence in multiple global markets. “My predecessor, who ran the department for many years, submitted our work to award events on a regular basis over many years,” she says. “He suggested I continue the process when I was promoted to his position upon his retirement. He stressed that not only was winning the award personally gratifying, but by involving clients and crew members in the award experience he found that it made the bond of our working relationships even stronger.

“Much of the work we do here could be done through our advertising agencies or by the purchasing department with outside vendors, but at a higher cost,” Jana continues. “Additionally, department heads are free to look into outside bids and proposals on their own. Frequently, we are even asked to make recommendations for those projects that are beyond the scope of our department.”

Jana adds, “I also do a quarterly in-house, mini-newsletter/email update outlining the kinds of projects we’ve been working on and with which departments. I believe the recognition factor, along with the feedback we get from our in-house customers, goes a long way to proving our group helps maintain—and even improve—the overall corporate bottom line and, as an extension, our likelihood of continued employment.”

CINDY AwardsRobert operates a home-based production company in a large metropolitan market. He aggressively competes with much larger companies when bidding on product rollout and meeting events. “When I meet clients away from their offices and on my own home turf, I utilize a shared conference room/common space and support facility in a nearby office complex. Along with one or two of my select group of freelancers, I always bring along a box of awards we’ve won and display them prominently during our meetings. Many times, these folks have worked with me on these award-winning projects and contribute to the conversation and overall pitch. The client comfort level is elevated and the client feels more involved in the planning process, knowing my team helps contribute to my success. And, yes, if we win an award with the project, I always make sure the people on the client side get copies of it.”

Maya also runs a one-person shop. “I provide public relations services to a small, but very specialized segment of the healthcare industry. I have two competitors nationally and the three of us serve a total market consisting of just over five dozen clients,” she says. “Because our market is so small and specialized, we share many of the same freelance contractors. It’s imperative that I be able to get those sub-contractors when I need them. I always submit my best work each year to three or four award events and, when I do win, I always send a copy of the award along with a ‘Thank You’ note to my key contractors on that job. They always appreciate the gesture, and when I call them always make time to work my project into their busy work schedules.”

“The majority of our client work is delivered online through their website, on social media and client-presented webinars,” Bonnie explains. Her in-house Digital Media Creation department consists of her and two part-timers. “We use contract people exclusively to give us staffing flexibility to juggle the busy times with the down times. Because we’re so social media focused, it’s easy to let everyone know when we are given public recognition for our efforts. Our contract people also love it because they can easily access the details for their own sales efforts.”

Bradley notes that, “My company is in the food service industry with over eighty franchised restaurant operations spread out over twenty states in the U.S. and three provinces in Canada. With multiple brand managers and a variety of communication needs, my department produces nearly 100 stand-alone pieces each year,” he says. “It is imperative to me that my bosses know how and to what extent my department is contributing to the company’s success.

“In this industry, everything is results-driven and my department is no exception,” Bradley continues. “I always provide copies of our awards each year to those folks who help me get my programs out the door. In return, they frequently will share the successes—and sometimes shortcomings—of our work. It all contributes to the ongoing learning process for my people to improve their skills.”

Finally, Ryan is part of a Midwest university program teaching electronic media production and game design. “Winning awards and accolades in this business not only pleases our faculty and students, but it helps to attract new faculty members and even more students to the program. I feel the most important aspect to award winning, however, is that our grads now have something tangible to present in their first job interview that says ‘Hire me, because I can make a difference.’ You can rest assured that if he or she gets the job, that award won’t be their last.”

Yes, in this space we are primarily promoting the Cinema in Industry (CINDY) Awards. There also are many other excellent digital media festivals and award recognition programs out there. When you’re ready to submit your work to one of them, it’s very important that you select more than just one event to compete in because receiving recognition from a variety of sources further widens that base of recognition and validates you even more as a world-class media maker.

If you’ve never entered The CINDY Awards, we hope you will this year. If you have in the past, we would love to see what you’ve been doing lately. The early Call for Entries begins the first week in December for the March 31 deadline. Join us!


November 19, 2015