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Beacon Awards® 2007 FAQ
In response to ongoing changes in the cable industry over the past few years, the 2007 Beacon Award® Committee thoroughly reviewed the Beacon Award Call for Entries and judging process to ensure that the Beacon Award categories reflected the business goals and reality of today’s cable industry. The members of the committee wanted to make sure that the Beacon Awards® rewarded the best public affairs initiatives in the cable industry and stressed strategic public affairs over tactical public affairs.

During this process, the Beacon Award Committee decided to overhaul the categories and introduce a new set of categories that are strategic, relevant to today’s cable industry, and easier to understand, but still familiar to the ACC members who have entered the Beacon Awards for years. The 2007 Beacon Award Call for Entries reflect these improvements.

The early bird deadline for the 2007 Beacon Awards is November 3, 2006, and allows ACC members to save $50 off the entry fee. The final deadline is November 17, 2006.

Listed below are some of the frequently asked questions about the Beacon Awards. If you have additional questions after reviewing this document, please contact Michelle Butler at:
Phone: 202-222-2372
Email:
mbutler@cablecommunicators.org

Eligibility

Q. I'm not a ACC member, but my company is. Does that make me eligibile to enter the Beacon Awards?
A.You must be an individual member of ACC to submit an entry. If you are not a member of ACC, you may submit your membership application and payment of $200 for your membership dues with your Beacon entry. There is a ACC membership application in the 2007 Beacon Award Call for Entries.

Dates & Deadlines

Q. What are the deadlines to enter the Beacon Awards?
A.The 2007 Beacon Award early bird deadline allows ACC members to save $50 on the entry fee and is November 3, 2006. The final deadline is November 17, 2006. To qualify for the Early Bird discount, the completed entry (including all forms, summaries and collateral materials) along with the payment must be received by ACC no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST) on November 3, 2006. If the entry is incomplete in any way, ACC reserves the right to deny the discount and charge the entrant the regular fee in order to be eligible for judging.
Q. My campaign falls within the required dates of November 18, 2005, and November 17, 2006, but I would like to include the kickoff element which was in September 2005. May I do that?
A.Yes. As long as the majority of the project was completed between the dates of November 18, 2005, and November 17, 2006, it is eligible for the 2007 Beacon Awards.
Q.If an event continues after the November 17, 2006, deadline, should press clips and results be sent after the entry deadline of November 17, 2006?
A.No. If you do not have all results in by November 17, you may relate in your entry the methodology by which you intend to measure results, what you anticipate the results to be, and why.


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Categories

Q.Why did the Beacon Award Committee introduce new categories this year?
A.A main goal this year for the two Beacon Award co-chairs, Cindy McConkey, Scripps Networks, and Jennifer Mooney, Bright House Networks, and the 2007 Beacon Award Committee was to make sure the Beacon Award categories reflected the changes in the cable industry and its business goals. The Committee decided to do a complete review and overhaul of the categories under the direction of the judging operations work group and its leaders Amy Cohn, Cox Communications, Mike Smith, Comcast, and Jerilyn Bliss, Scripps Networks.

This process of seriously rethinking the Beacon Award categories began during the final round of Beacon Judging in Jan. 2006. Some of the judges, ACC board members and other senior public affairs professionals, felt that several of the entries advancing to the final round were not strategic enough and some of the categories did not reflect current business goals. The 2007 Beacon Award Committee wanted to ensure ACC was rewarding the correct public affairs projects, ones that were truly the best of the best and were more strategic than tactical.

The new categories borrow from the best practices of the 2006 Beacon Awards, CTAM's MARK Awards, Cox's Impact Awards, PRSA's Silver Anvil Awards and OCTA's Image Awards. They were crafted to better address the business realities and goals of today's cable industry, and they stress strategic public affairs over tactical public affairs.

These new categories also simplify the process of deciding what category to enter. The new Call for Entries reduce the possible number of categories from 560 under the old system to 147 in the new system while still preserving the types of categories that most past entrants preferred.

The work group was sensitive to the idea that ACC needs to keep some of the familiar elements around the categories so that people who have been comfortable entering the Beacon Awards in the past will still be comfortable entering this year. The first 5 categories listed – Community Relations, Education, Government Relations, Internal Communications and Media Relations - are basically the same as past target audience categories in the old system. Furthermore, ACC staff and these new Frequently Asked Questions will be able to show members what categories they can enter based on the type of category they entered in the past, and the projects that were entered last year could be entered this year in one of the new categories.
Q.Are there more categories to enter this year or less?
A.In the old system, the entrant chose a combination of three different categories from target audience, type of initiative or component and entrant classification. For example: Community; Full Campaign/Series; Cable System III. In the new system, the entrant would choose a category and an entrant classification. For example: Community Relations - Cable System III.

The old system had a possibility of 560 different combination of categories and the new has 147 possible combinations or categories, so this does reduce the possible number of categories significantly. However, in practical terms, the majority of the 560 combinations in the old system did not have any entries. Last year, around 150 combinations or categories received entries, so the new system may not greatly change the number of categories that will receive entries and the number of Beacon Award finalists and winners.
Q.What are the key differences between the old categories and the new ones?
A.The new categories better address the business realities and goals of today's cable industry, and they stress strategic public affairs/public relations over tactical public affairs/public relations.

The majority of the categories preserve the original 7 target audiences of the old system. The new categories also introduce several new target audiences that are more strategic or closely aligned with current business goals. The first 16 categories in the new system assume that the projects entered into those categories will be initiatives that are equivalent to full campaign/series or full campaign/single activity, the first two categories under the type of initiative or component initiatives category in the old system. The two, new events and observances categories are similar to the two full campaign categories but are explained in a clearer manner.

The number of specific component categories was reduced because they were seen as more tactical than strategic. At the same time, the work group worked hard to preserve a category for all the types of components entered under the old system. The components in the old system were: video promotion or PSA/series, video promotion or PSA, programming/series, programming/single program, print materials and Web site.

In the new system, these components may be entered in the following categories: new media campaign, programming (single program), programming (series), public service announcement (single or series), and support materials, a catch-all category. It’s also possible that the components, as part of a campaign, will fit better in some of the other categories. The committee preserved the programming and PSA categories because they are very unique and important to cable, and they were popular categories in the past.
Q.I did an announcement about our system’s new channel line up and Internet capabilities. We held a reception at the local Chamber of Commerce and set up televisions and PC work stations. Network representatives were on hand to answer questions and hand out premium items. We held special sessions for government officials/council members and the general public. Do I enter this event under Government Relations or Community Relations?
A. Initiatives can be submitted in more than one category. In this case, you may enter the announcement under both. Just remember that your summary should be geared toward the selected target audience.
Q.For the competitive response category, what kind of support materials are you looking for?
A.A variety of tactics can be used in a competitive response campaign like in any other campaign. Some of the tactics may include media relations materials, programming, public service announcements or promotional spots, Web sites, print advertising, brochures, direct mail, newsletters or other print materials, correspondence, photographs, marketing products such as premiums, electronic and online communications, television ads, radio spots, posters, etc.
Q.How is the Reputation/Brand Management category different from the Media Relations category?
A.Reputation/brand management entries can include a variety of tactics, such as earned media, paid media, PSAs, events, etc., tied to a strategic objective of establishing or improving a company’s brand, image or reputation. An example of a reputation/brand management campaign is Cox’s Your Friend in the Digital Age.

The media relations category honors programs using innovative earned media strategies and tactics to effectively deliver company messages intended to promote the organization’s products or services or to enhance its reputation or image. Examples of successful media relations campaigns among the 2006 Beacon Award finalists include 2005 Time Warner Cable Tech Calendar, Court TV’s Home of the Brave/Voting Rights Act, and Comcast-Utah Local Dating on Demand. The project summaries for these projects can be found in the members-only area of the ACC Web site.
Q.Is there a specific target audience attached to the Events and Observances category?
A.The two Events and Observances categories do not have a predetermined target audience, and an entrant in that category can target one or several target audiences as dictated by the goals of the project. Entrants should still identify the target audience or target audiences addressed by their campaigns in their project summaries so that the judges can evaluate whether those audiences were reached and influenced by the campaign.
Q.What is the difference between Crisis Communications and Issues Management?
A.A crisis is an unplanned event or incident that demands an immediate response from the cable company due to its threat to the way it conducts business. An example of a crisis is a weather storm that destroyed parts of the cable infrastructure or discovering that the phone book your company published includes numbers that should be unlisted because they are for people in the witness protection program or are for battered women hiding from their abusers.

Issues management addresses an ongoing issue or concern that could extraordinarily affect business strategy. This issue is not always a crisis demanding immediate attention but may have the potential to become a crisis at some point. Examples of issues management campaigns are ones that address retransmission consent negotiation or a proposed law at the state or federal level that will force the cable company to change the way it does business.
Q.I work for a cable association and have submitted entries to the Members; Full Campaign/Series; Association category before. What category can I enter this year?
A.The Internal Communications category defines association members as an internal audience, so a campaign by an association targeted at its members would fit in this category. The “other” entrant classification includes cable associations.
Q.In the past, I submitted a promotional spot in the video promotion or PSA category. Where should I submit a promotional spot this year?
A.A promotional spot may be entered in the reputation/brand management category as part of a campaign. If the promotional spot does talk about the community service efforts of the cable company, it may be appropriate to enter it in the new Public Service Announcement (single or series) category. Another choice may b to submit the promotional spot in the support materials category.
Q.Why is there not a separate category for a single Public Service Announcement vs. a series of Public Service Announcements?
A.The Public Service Announcement category will reward the PSA or series of PSAs that produced the desired results or end impact whether that took one PSA or a series of PSAs. The new category concentrates on the results of the PSA.
Q.I have submitted a company newsletter to the Beacon Awards in the past. Where would that fit this year?
A.Newsletters may be submitted to the Support Materials category. Be sure to stress in the project summary why the newsletter was the best tactic to use to reach your target audience.
Newsletters may also be submitted to another category as part of a campaign directed at a target audience captured in the other categories. For example, a newsletter to government officials may be part of a campaign aimed at those officials, and that campaign can be submitted in the government relations category.
Q.In which category should a Web site be entered this year?
A.Like newsletters, a Web site can be entered in the support materials category. Be sure to stress in the project summary why a Web site was the best tactic to use to reach your target audience. An incredibly innovative or creative Web site may also be entered in the new media campaign category.

Like all tactics and other support materials, Web sites may be submitted as part of a campaign entered in another category. For example, a Web site supporting a cable company’s pro-social efforts may be an example of supporting materials used by a company in a campaign submitted to the Community Relations category.
Q.Will you accept live URLs for Web sites and other electronic media?
A.No. Entries to the Beacon Awards must represent work executed and results achieved between November 18, 2005, and November 17, 2006. Judging for the Beacon Awards will take place in January 2007, and live URLs viewed at that time may represent work executed after November 17, 2006, so no live URLs will be accepted for electronic media components such as Web sites.
Please submit the electronic media component as print materials or as a CD-ROM or DVD with the appropriate files and directions for viewing. Print materials and files can be a representation of the electronic media. All Web sites and other electronic media must operate from the actual media source it is sent on. No downloads or installs please.
Q. Is it better to submit a Web site entry on CD-ROM or as print materials?
A.Beacon judges prefer the Web site entries on CD-ROM because a full, interactive version of the Web site will be projected on a theater screen that all judges will review. This provides the judges with a similar experience as that of the end user. However, some winning Web sites have been submitted on print materials in the past.
NOTE: Please submit print materials and a CD-ROM with the appropriate files and directions for viewing for the judges to review. Print materials and files can be a representation of the Web site. All Web site entries must operate from the actual media source it is sent on (CD-ROM). No downloads or installs please. No live URLs will be accepted.

 

Programming

Q.I want to submit a 3-5 minute highlight package of events and programs we produce with voice-over providing information on each. Does that fall within the rules for a 5 minute video?
A.Yes. Remember to include a written log of what is on the tape as well .
Q.Our system telecasts a weekly high school football game featuring schools from within our viewing area. I am planning to submit this as an LO series. Considering the 5-minute video limit, should I only send a clip from one game?
A.You can either send a clip from one game, or create a montage of highlights from a series of games. The only limitation is that the tape not exceed 5 minutes and that you provide a written log of the tape's contents.
Q.Our system produces a local origination series, but there is one particular episode that was extremely well-received by the community and received significant coverage. Can one episode from an LO series be entered in the Programming (Single Program) category?
A.Yes. You should make clear in your entry summary that this program is part of a series that you would like to have judged on its merits as a stand-alone program.


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Entrant Classification

Q.How do the new entrant classification guidelines compare with the old system? Are they different?
A.The Beacon Award Committee changed the entrant classification guidelines to reduce the number of categories and to better reflect industry reality of increasing clustering and consolidation.
Here are the OLD classifications:

Cable System I (up to 75,000 subscribers)
Cable System II (75,001 to 150,000 subscribers)
Cable System III (150,001 to 300,000 subscribers)
Cable System IV (more than 300,000 subscribers)
MSO
Cable Network I (up to 9 million subscribers)
Cable Network II (9 to 50 million subscribers)
Cable Network III (more than 50 million subscribers)
Association/Nonprofit Hardware/Software, or New Technology Providers

Here are the NEW classifications:

Cable system 1 (up to 200,000 subscribers)
Cable system 2 (200,000 to 400,000 subscribers)
Cable system 3 (more than 400,000 subscribers)
MSO
Cable Network 1 (up to 40 million subscribers)
Cable Network 2 (more than 40 million subscribers)
Other (includes Association/Nonprofit and Hardware/software or new technology providers)

The cable system entrant classification was reduced from 4 levels to 3 to reflect the reality of clustering among cable systems. The cable network entrant classifications were reduced from 3 to 2, and another category was created. The other category includes cable associations, cable nonprofit organizations, hardware/software or new technology providers, and other cable groups not represented by the other entrant classifications.
Q.Why did you break the division between cable network 1 and cable network 2 at 40 million?
A.Although the number isn’t hard and fast, 40 million is usually the upper threshold of where a network can still be an unrated, “emerging” network. Once a network is rated, business practices, including public affairs, change, so it is hard to make a fair comparison between a rated and unrated network.
Q.My system, which is made up of 225,000 customers, worked in partnership with The Disney Channel to promote an upcoming program. As part of the Disney promotional tour, there was a screening at my local theater and Disney characters were available to greet attendees and take pictures with the children. We promoted the event by sending out direct mail pieces, creating radio spots and contacting several community organizations in the area. Can I enter screening in the Beacon Awards competition or should it be entered by The Disney Channel?
A.Both your system and the network can enter the promotion. You should enter the program under Community - Cable System II while The Disney Channel should enter the entire tour as a Community - Cable Network II entry.
Q.The cable system I work for partnered with a cable network on a community relations event. Can we submit a joint entry to the Beacon Awards?
A.You may enter the event to the community relations category as a cable system project, and the network may submit it as a cable network project. There is no entrant classification for joint projects.
 
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Judging


Preliminary judging for the Beacon Awards will take place in Washington, DC, on January 10 and 11, 2007. Preliminary judges will be cable public affairs professionals and ACC members from various cable organizations. Finalist entries will be judged by a panel of ACC Board members, other senior cable public affairs professionals and experienced judges on January 25, 2007.
Judging criteria are as follows:
Planning and Strategy (20% of overall score)
Implementation (25% of overall score)
Results (25% of overall score)
Presentation (10% of overall score)
Creativity (20% of overall score)
Q.In the description of each entry's summary, you ask for comments on the "tactics and/or strategy" used for the project. Can you explain?
A."Tactics and/or strategy" means the process and/or procedures you followed in order to achieve your project's goals and objectives. In other words, you should address what steps you planned to take to make sure your project was going to have the results you anticipated.
Q.Why does ACC require that entrants include a justification statement in their three-page summaries?
A. In the past some Beacon judges have questioned whether certain entries had been submitted in the correct categories. To avoid this question, ACC eliminated this judging criteria. The 2007 Beacon Award Call for Entries also requires that the entrant include a justification statement in their three-page summaries. This statement should explain why the entry category was chosen and prevents judges from questioning whether an entry is in the right category.
Q.Are all the categories judged by the same criteria?
A. Yes. Judges will go through a training session to ensure that they all understand the judging criteria and have a similar frame of reference for judging entries.
Q.How important is the presentation of the entry? Do I have to use a fancy notebook and high-tech art?
A.The presentation is important, but you don't have to spend a lot of money to be successful. Entries are judged primarily on their content. However, 10% of your overall score is based on the appearance, organization and completeness of your entry. You should make sure your entry is neat in appearance, clearly organized, and contains all necessary elements. The majority of entries are submitted in three-ring binders.

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