For the first time for 2020, the IABC Awards Committee will be hosting a week-by-week breakdown of how to create and submit your 2020 Gold Quill Awards entry!  We are calling it “Couch to Gold Quill” entry development program because, just like when you training for a marathon, you’ll be more successful if you do the work a little at a time and build your stamina (entry) week by week.

Visit this page weekly, or visit our discussion thread in the IABC HUB (member’s only) to join the conversation!

Race Day is 9 January 2020 – will you be ready?

3 September – Ed Kamrin, SCMP, Chair, IABC Awards Committee

Hello all,

When I first entered Gold Quill, I started too late. I skimmed the call for entries, quickly realizing I’d never absorb all the information in time. Naturally, I panicked and cursed my fate. And hours before the draft was due to my boss, I cranked one out.

That ill-fated entry didn’t go on to win an award. Looking back at the process, I realized I’d been overconfident. Around the same time, I ran my first marathon, with much better results. And it occurred to me — what if we could break up a Gold Quill entry into a training plan, starting with short sprints and advancing to the tougher challenges?

That’s the idea behind this fall’s “Couch to Gold Quill” plan. Every week or two, we at the IABC Awards Committee will publish a post. We’ll follow the order of sections in the Communication Management divisions, with excursions into Communication Skills.

Like all else at IABC, this will be a team effort. You’ll hear from my amazing committee colleagues — Ritzi Ronquillo, APR; Maureen Healey, ABC; Gabrielle Loring; and Neil Griffiths, ABC, IABC Fellow. They have a lot of awards to their names, not to mention years of experience as evaluators. We’ll also be guided by the wonderful Michele Liston, CMP, IABC’s Awards Manager.

Entries will appear here in The Hub and in the IABC LinkedIn group. You’re all communication professionals, so you know the drill: ask questions, make comments, and share! I welcome your feedback, and I hope you will make this your year to enter Gold Quill – a true rite of passage for our tribe.

10 September – Maureen Healey, Awards Committee Member

This week you’re going to start your Gold Quill Awards entry by getting approval and funding for your submission. See the pricing and deadlines posted on the Gold Quill Awards website at If you’re following along with our ‘Marathon Training Course’ you’ll want to use the regular deadline pricing.

If you don’t have the authority to approve the cost of the entry fee, you can check out our sample justification letter posted on the website. Simply customize it and send it this week to get the approval process started. Find it under Enter/How to Create Your Entry.

In case you need more inspiration: starting the process now will allow you to use any excess year-end funds or will set you up for inclusion in next year’s budget. Either way you can’t submit unless you have approval and funding – this is your homework for this week.

Personally, I’ve worked for employers that wouldn’t pay for the entries for whatever reason. In those cases, I believed enough in the project to both win and be a stepping-stone to my next job, so I paid for the entries myself. And, in some cases, worked on the entry on my own time. I appreciate these aren’t options for everyone. But, if you believe in the quality of your project, you can find a way to get the recognition you deserve.

Good luck! Don’t forget to post any questions here. The Awards Committee is ready with answers and advice. We’re in this marathon with you!

18 September 2019 – Ed Kamrin, SCMP, Chair, IABC Awards Committee

Welcome back to the Gold Quill Awards discussion!

Now that you have submitted for (or maybe even received) approval and funding to submit your next step is to select the campaign(s) you will be entering. Campaigns from the last three years are eligible – as are campaigns previously submitted that did not win.

Think about the campaigns you’ve played a role in developing – you don’t have to have been the project leader to enter a campaign! That campaign that exceeded expectations? How about that campaign where the messaging was spot-on? Consider a Division 4 entry – did your campaign include an event that rocked? How about a social media campaign that got your audience talking?

Didn’t have a million dollar budget? No problem – your campaign will be evaluated not against other campaigns but against an objective excellence rubric.

Don’t think your campaign is “good enough?” Submitting is a great way to get professional feedback across all submission criteria from two experienced communication professionals. So you really can’t lose!

If you are considering submitting a campaign that was created on behalf of a client – you’ll also need to get their permission to submit. Go to for a sample client permission letter that will need to be submitted with your entry.

You’ve got a week – get thinking!


23 September – Maureen Healey, Awards Committee Member

This week your assignment is to select the Division and Category for your submission. You’ll find the list at

A reminder before this step you should have submitted for (or received) approval to enter, attended (or listened to the on-demand replay) of the Entrant Webinar, and identified the campaign(s) you’ll be entering. Good work so far!

We’ve tweaked the categories this year to make it easier to select the most appropriate one. Entries aren’t evaluated against each other, but against an objective evaluation rubric, so don’t worry about your ‘competition’ in a particular category. Not sure which category to enter? Drop us a line and we’ll help.

New This Year for Students: You’ll submit to any of the general categories; there are no separate student categories this year. For the first time we’ll have evaluators with academic experience evaluating all student entries so you’ll get the best possible evaluation and feedback.


30 September – Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR, IABC Fellow, Awards Committee Member

Welcome to Week 5 of Gold Quill Awards “Marathon Training!”Now the fun really begins – this week we will be crafting the title and description for your entry. While these elements are not going to form part of the score given to your entry, they are crucial elements in paving the way for what’s inside it. The evaluators will see the title and description of your entry as two of the first elements of the entry. Be clear, concise, but also deliberate about what you include. The best examples have punchy, memorable titles and descriptions that summarize the nature of the project, its scope and impact. Note the character limits for each (100 for title; 1500 for description) and plan accordingly. It’s never fun to craft the perfect wording only to have to cut it down!

9 October – Ritzi Villarico-Ronquillo, APR 

Start your work plan:  This section is the crucial start where you build your case and lay the ground work for why the program was done and for what business goal/s it was strategized and carried out. A clear purpose and context defines the perspective (business and communication environment) in which it was implemented and shows how it helped the organization. Some tips: (1) Write the first draft in full detail. Then edit down. Have others read through it and make sure you have a buy-in from your organization on what you are disclosing. (2) Include opportunities that arose. Even in crisis situations, there are opportunities that present itself, sometimes even as long-term advantages. Did it solve a problem, fill a need, use the opportunity to better the organization’s situation? (3) Write simply and crisply. Explain acronyms and local terms, and avoid jargon and staid buzz words. (4) Present both informal and formal research and relevant background information to support the need and the communication strategy chosen. (5) If it is an ongoing program, past results may be included, though these will be only as background information, and will not be part of the Measurement and Evaluation section.


18 October – Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR, IABC Fellow, Awards Committee Member

This week, we’re contemplating the stakeholder analysis: Effective communication doesn’t occur until the audience receives and understands the message. If the communication planning process does not include a comprehensive understanding of the stakeholders that are impactful to and impacted by the communication activity, it is very unlikely to be successful. Great communication plans include an analysis of audience preferences, attitudes, demographics, psychographics or other characteristics. This all helps to shape objectives, key messages, the tactical approach and ultimately evaluation. Evaluators will be looking for evidence that you have considered the stakeholders that will make the communication activity successful and influence the tactical choices you will describe in the later sections of your entry.