By Kelsey Stanczyk
On February 13th, IABC London hosted its latest professional development workshop titled, “The best of ‘The Best of the Best’ – Perfecting Your Communications Plan and Virtuoso Entry.” Laura Dockstader, Communication Coordinator at St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Laurie Lashbrook, President at Lashbrook Marketing & Public Relations were the keynote speakers at the event.
Both Dockstader and Lashbrook’s organizations won Virtuoso Awards in 2016. St. Joseph’s Health Care won the Best of the Best award and Internal Communication Excellence Award for their 2015-2018 Corporate Strategic Plan, while Lashbrook Marketing & Public Relations won the Audio-Visual Award for their Holiday Card and the Marketing, Advertising, and Brand Communication Award for their Inclusive Hiring Campaign. Dockstader’s presentation focused primarily on the development of their plan and how they communicated its strengths in their Virtuoso Award Entry. Lashbrook’s presentation looked at how to optimize your entry and how an award-winning mindset will lead to success.
When outlining the plan in their Virtuoso Award application, Dockstader’s team covered five areas: background, opportunities, challenges, getting buy-in, and stakeholder engagement. Their challenge was to communicate with all of their stakeholders over four main sites and 13 satellite sites. Showing how they overcame obstacles demonstrated the strength of the plan and earned them extra points with the Virtuoso judges.
Employee engagement was a key element of the success of the 2015-2018 Corporate Strategic Plan. “Employees must understand the priorities of the organization and how their work supports and contributes to them,” said Dockstader. The communications team searched for something that all of their employees had in common to determine the most effective method of reaching them. That one thing? Their hospital name badge. The communications team attached a sticker that listed the strategic priorities of the plan to every employee’s name tag,so they could refer to the priorities at any time.
Lashbrook’s presentation focused on tips to perfecting a Virtuoso Awards Entry. She opened her presentation by playing her award-winning project “Holiday Tips from Lashbrook,” which informed the viewer about re-gifting and closed with a message about organ donation. In this project, the firm aligned the holiday season with charity work and the act of giving. Lashbrook noted that connecting objectives, strategies and results is key to a successful application.
Lashbrook’s presentation explained the application process. “Describe your organization,” she said, reminding the audience that the judges are on the east coast and may not be familiar with the organization. She stressed the importance of explaining why the project was undertaken, its purpose, and the audience. If objectives were not met or if something about the project was unusual, it is important to explain why.Overcoming short timelines and low budgets often gets higher marks. Judges also give bonus points for exceeding objective expectations. Including industry benchmarks to show the judges the success of the project will also strengthen the application. “Make it easy to read,” said Lashbrook, “by bolding important words, and using bullet points, you will make the judges’ job easier. They will be reading your application in their spare time and reading two or three per night.”
Both Dockstader and Lashbrook closed their presentations with the same point – start early. Lashbrook recommended starting the Virtuoso application at least a month in advance. This will enable applicants to thoroughly edit their application and present their project clearly.
2017 Virtuoso Award applications are currently being judged by IABC affiliate chapters. Winners will be announced at the Virtuoso Awards celebration on Thursday June 1st.