The posting of our Neal and EXCEL Awards finalists is always big news. It’s also a time to be proud of the journalism that our members produce—and the coverage they give to issues of the day. At a time when staffing and recruitment are paramount to the industries we cover, “it’s clear,” the National Restaurant Association writes in their EXCEL-finalist DEI Report, “that a genuine DEI culture enhances retention.”
SIIA released the finalists for the 43rd AM&P Network EXCEL Awards—the premier awards program honoring association media. Winners will be announced during a special, in-person awards dinner at the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C., on June 27—during AMPLIFY, our Content and Marketing Summit for association media and niche publishers.
“At a time when the importance of quality journalism and publishing has never been greater, we are proud to recognize the exceptional achievements of this year’s EXCEL Awards honorees,” said SIIA President Chris Mohr. “The breadth and diversity of this year’s finalists are a testament to the outstanding talent and creativity within our association industry.”
Over 74 categories, 211 EXCEL Award finalists were carefully selected through a two-stage evaluation process by a panel of more than 100 peer judges. The awards also showcase the prestigious Mitch Mohanna Achievement Award, honoring an industry service provider demonstrating commitment and service to the association media and publishing industry.
It’s always a pleasure—and education—for me to go through the finalists list. Here are five of those that already, in my mind, are winners for their message and process. (Tickets for the EXCEL Awards Gala can be ordered here.)
Provide solutions—and get sponsors. For Best Campaign, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation put together a multi-pronged campaign. There’s a DEI Report that measures the DEI environment in the hospitality industry. There’s a framework for members to implement their own program called Elevate: A Menu for Change. There’s distribution sponsorship from American Express and the #FairKitchens movement (founded by Unilever Food Solutions). You can also watch a Webinar on Demand titled: “The 2022 DEI Report: Diversity matters to your employees. How important is it to you?” It’s a solutions-oriented approach.
Give voice to an underrepresented group. In the Dedicated Issue category, a finalist is Out and Proud: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Chemists, from American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News. “I’d like to open this essay by confronting a question that inevitably gets asked whenever the chemistry community does something to feature its LGBTQ+ members: Why do we need to highlight LGBTQ+ scientists?” writes guest editor Tehshik P. Yoon, a much heralded professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “…My answer is that a focus on LGBTQ+ chemists is warranted, timely, and critically necessary.”
Make it easy for your audience to share. The Pulmonary Hypertension Association is a finalist for Best Blog Site (Overall) for their Right Heart Blog. The page starts with a paragraph asking readers to Share Your Story With Our Right Heart Blog. “Living with a serious and rare diagnosis like pulmonary hypertension (PH) can be isolating. The PHA community is a network where people can connect with others who aren’t just living with PH, they’re living their best lives… Interested in sharing your story? Fill out the form.” The form progresses gently: “Would you like to see some questions to get you started?” Below that are the moving stories and photos from their audience.
Use video to promote a product. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is a finalist in the General Audience Book category for Terrance the Hothead: A Book to Help Children Manage Big Feelings. In the ASHA Store, author Lisa Cloherty, also a speech pathologist, explains in a video the book’s development. “There is so much incredible work being done to bring social emotional awareness to young children today. It inspired me to create a story about a big-hearted teapot who can’t stop blowing his lid.”
Create a personalized dashboard for your audience. For Best New Innovation, the Credit Union Executives Society was chosen as a finalist for their CUES Member Dashboard. When members log in, they’re directed to the dashboard to “find an experience tailored just for them.” myCUES Dashboard features include: easy access to member benefits; recommended learning opportunities and events; access to assigned and completed courses; and curated content. There’s also a single sign-on feature—an often undervalued element.
For more information on the EXCEL Awards, click here. And again, the full list of finalists can be found here.