“The Virginia Professional Communicators challenge you for the sweepstakes title in 2018,” announced Laura Fortunato, VPC’s contest chair. “Get your game on for the NFPW contest showdown!”
The sweepstakes award goes to the state with the highest number of members winning honors in the national contest.
In addition to bragging rights, the state winning the sweepstakes receives a cash prize. Virginia has set the bar high, though. It has won the sweepstakes award 10 times and tied for it once since 1999.
Affiliates also will have a tough opponent in Delaware. It has won the sweepstakes award seven times in 18 years, including the last four years, and tied with Virginia once.
So if you want your state to have a chance to beat Virginia, Delaware or any other state, and receive national recognition for your efforts, you and everyone else in your affiliate need to enter.
Some states allow members to submit more than one entry in the same category, so take advantage of that. If you can submit two entries per category, you’ve just doubled your chances of winning first places at the state level and moving on to the national contest.
Remember, the contest is a two-tiered competition. You must enter at the state level first. Entries receiving first place in state competitions are eligible to advance to the NFPW contest.
Another way to increase your odds of winning is to enter a lot of categories. Don’t limit your entries to your favorite work or just those articles that made the front page of the paper, winners of NFPW’s individual sweepstakes award advise. Not every good story can hit the front page or lead a broadcast, and sometimes the subject of the piece is what will catch the judge’s eye.
Sweepstakes winners also suggest interpreting contest categories, especially the writing ones, somewhat broadly because you may find you have more to enter than you first thought.
Even though the holiday season is here and you are busy with family, friends and those year-end projects at work, keep the NFPW communications contest in mind. Jot down possible entries as they occur to you so that when you do get started on your submissions, you won’t be scrambling to find entries. Reviewing your list periodically could jog your memory about other possible entries.
Seasoned contest entrants also highly recommend you don’t wait until the last minute to enter. Give yourself plenty of time to locate your work and double-check your entries. Did you provide an explanation statement if it’s required for a particular category? If the entry requires more than one example of your work, did you provide the correct number? Did you pay your entry fees?
Another reason not to wait until the last minute is that if you have a question, you’ll give your state contest director or the national contest team time to come up with the answer without throwing everyone into a panic.
Here are the key contest dates to remember: The early bird deadline for the 2018 contest is Jan. 23. You can save $25 if you enter by then. The final deadline for entries is Feb. 6.
Visit www.nfpw.org/communicationsContest.php for contest rules and categories.
– Ellen Crawford