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2016 Beacon Awards® FAQ
It is easier than ever to enter the 2016 Beacon Awards! ACC has simplified the entry process, the categories and the entry form.

Your Beacon Award entry must include a one-(preferred) to one and one-half page project summary, completed entry form and payment, all of which you may email to ACC. You may choose to supplement your entry with up to 3 files of your strongest support materials and 3 minutes of video highlights.

The deadline to enter the 2016 Beacon Awards is March 18, 2016. Entries must represent work executed and results achieved between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016.

Listed below are some of the frequently asked questions about the Beacon Awards. If you have additional questions after reviewing this document, please contact Steve Jones at:

Phone:  703-372-2215


Q. Who is eligible to enter the Beacon Awards?

A. Eligible entrants for the Beacon Awards are cable operators, regional and national cable networks, state and regional associations, marketing co-ops, and vendors (hardware and software providers). Entrants who are not currently ACC members must pay the non-member entry fee and will automatically become ACC members for six months. And remember, advertising and public relations agencies may enter the Beacon Awards with the permission of the client cable system or network.

Q. I'm not an ACC member, but my company is. Does that make me eligible to enter the Beacon Awards?

A. You must be an individual member of ACC to submit an entry at the member rate. Entrants who are not currently ACC members must pay the non-member entry fee and will automatically become ACC members for six months.

Entry Format

Q. What should I include in my 2016 Beacon Award entry?

A. Your 2016 Beacon Award entry must include a one-(highly preferred) to one and one-half page project summary, completed entry form and payment, all of which you may email to ACC.

You may choose to supplement your entry with up to three files of your strongest support materials and three minutes of video highlights. ACC encourages you to post your supporting materials and video highlights online and provide links to URLs for those materials in your one and one-half page project summary. The URLs may be to your company’s Web site or to other online sites. There are a number of free Web services for posting photos and videos online. Two of the most popular are YouTube or Google Picasa.

Q. Why was the length of the project summary reduced to one page (one and one-half pages is acceptable)?

A. It was part of the effort to make the process faster and easier to enter the 2016 Beacon Awards.

Q. How do I use YouTube?

A. Visit

Following the instructions on that page, create a free YouTube account or log in using an existing Google account.

Follow the YouTube instructions to upload your video. YouTube supports a variety of video file formats including: WebM Files; .MPEG4, 3GPP, and MOV files; .AVI; .MPEGPS; .WMV; and .FLV.

After you’ve uploaded your video, you can adjust the security settings by using the “Edit” option, scrolling down the page and looking for “Broadcasting and Sharing Options,” then “Privacy.” Options include: “Public,” “Unlisted,” or “Private.” ACC recommends the “Unlisted” option, so that only those with the link can view the video, whether or not they have a YouTube account.

Finally, click on the video and look for the “Share” option. After clicking “Share,” you should see a box with a URL. Copy that URL, paste it into the three-page written summary of your entry, and label it appropriately. An example:

For video associated with this Beacon entry, please visit:

Q. How do I use Google Picasa?

A. Visit

Following the instructions on that page, you can either use an existing Google account to get started or create one for no charge.

Download and install free Picasa software. (Depending on your Corporate I.T. policies, you may need internal permission to complete this step.)

Proceed to upload photos to an online album by launching the Picasa software from your PC or going back to

When you press the “Upload” button at the Picasa home page, it will prompt you to either create an album or upload photos to an existing album. All of the relevant instructions for completing these steps are available at the site.

After you’ve created an album and uploaded all your selected photos, you can adjust the security settings by going to “Edit/Album Properties.” Security setting include options to make the album “Public,” “Private,” or accessible to “Anyone with the link.” We recommend the “Anyone with the link” option.

Once photos are uploaded, you can click on each one and follow the provided instructions/prompts to insert captions and/or comments.

Look on the right side of the screen for the option “Link to this album.” Click that link, copy the displayed URL, paste it into the three-page written summary of your entry, and label it appropriately. An example:

For photographs associated with this Beacon entry, please visit:

Q. I cannot post material online. How else can I submit support materials?

A. Both Picasa and YouTube offer options that will allow you to limit the people who can view your posted material. However, if you are not comfortable with those protections – or if your company has a policy prohibiting you from posting material online – please consider the following options.

You may choose to scan and insert non-video support material on supplemental pages at the end of the file containing your written summary. Make sure the total file size does not exceed 5 MB (5,000 KB). Alternatively you can submit non-video support material on a CD and video support material on a DVD. Make sure that you send five copies of the CD/DVD per entry and that each CD/DVD are labeled with the contact name, company, company address, entry title and category. More details on these options are included in the 2016 Beacon Award Call for Entries.

Q. What will the first round judges review when evaluating the Beacon Award entries?

A. For the first/preliminary round of judging, ACC will email the project summaries to first-round judges to review. If there are supplemental support materials on CD/DVD, ACC will also attempt to mail those support CD/DVDs to the judges.

Q. Do I need to submit an entry binder?

A. No. Beacon Award entries no longer include entry binders.

Dates & Deadlines

Q. What is the deadline to enter the Beacon Awards?

A. The deadline is March 18, 2016. 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. (EDT) on March 18, 2016

Q. My campaign falls within the required dates of April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, but I would like to include the kickoff element which was March 24, 2015. May I do that?

A. Yes. As long as the majority of the project was completed between the dates of April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, it is eligible for the 2016 Beacon Awards

Q. If an event continues after the March 18, 2016 deadline, should press clips and results be sent after the entry deadline of March 18, 2016?

A. No. If you do not have all results in by March 18, 2016, you may relate in your entry the methodology by which you intend to measure results, what you anticipate the results to be, and why.


Q. What is the difference between Community Relations and Cause Marketing?

A. The Community Relations category is defined as follows:

Campaigns that seek to win the support or cooperation of – or that aim to improve relations with – people or organizations in communities that position the organization as a committed partner and deliver measurable, positive results for the cable company.

The definition for Cause Marketing is:

Campaigns in partnership between a company or network and non-profit partner which measurably drive sales/increase viewership, increase brand loyalty, retain customers or reach a niche market while providing financial support and awareness for the non-profit.

The main difference is that cause marketing must deliver bottom line/sales type results while community relations may bring less tangible results.

Q. I did an announcement about our system’s new DVR services. 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 target audience of the selected category.

Q.  Is there a specific target audience attached to the Events and Observances category?

A. The Events and Observances category does 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.  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 Public Service Announcement (single or series) category.

Q. Why is there not a separate category for a single Public Service Announcement vs. a series of Public Service Announcements or a category for a single Program vs. a series of Programs?

A. The Public Service Announcement and Programming categories will reward the PSA or Program or series of PSAs or Programs that produced the desired results or end impact whether that took one PSA or program or a series. The categories concentrate on the results of the PSA or Program.

Q. I have submitted a company newsletter to the Beacon Awards as support materials in the past. Where would that fit now?

A. Newsletters may be submitted to a 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. Will you accept live URLs for Web sites and other electronic media?

A. Yes. Entrants may submit live URLs for their Web site and social media communications entries.

Entrant Classification

Q. What are the entrant classification guidelines?

A.  They are:

Cable System 1 (250,000 or fewer subscribers)
Cable System 2 (250,001 to 500,000 subscribers)
Cable System 3 (more than 500,000 subscribers)
MSO Headquarters
Cable Network 1 (up to 50 million subscribers)
Cable Network 2 (more than 50 million subscribers)
Other (includes Association/Nonprofit and Hardware/ Software or New Technology Providers)

Q. Are smaller cable systems still competing against larger cable systems?

A. The cable systems categories were adjusted for 2016. Small cable systems will compete against fellow small cable systems and not against larger systems with more resources.

Q. Why did you break the division between Cable Network 1 and Cable Network 2 at 50 million?

A. Although the number isn't hard and fast, 50 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 185,000 customers, worked in partnership with Animal Planet to promote an upcoming program. As part of the Animal Planet promotional tour, there was a screening at my local theater and Animal Planet 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 the screening in the Beacon Awards competition or should it be entered by Animal Planet?

A. Both your system and the network can enter the promotion. You should enter the program under Community - Cable System 1 while Animal Planet should enter the entire tour as a Community - Cable Network 2 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. There is no entrant classification for joint projects. 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. 

Programming and Video Highlights

Q. I want to submit a 2-3 minute highlight package of events and programs we produce with voice-over providing information on each. Does that fall within the rules for a 3 minute video?

A. Yes. Remember to include a written log of what is in the video 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 3-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 video not exceed 3 minutes and that you provide a written log of the video's contents.

Q. What is the best way to produce the video highlights I would like to include with my entry?

A. Videos (DVD) submitted to the Beacon Awards do have a 3-minute time limit, and judges never choose to watch longer than 3 minutes. In fact, longer pieces may make them irritated. Depending on the category to which the entry is submitted, the video may be 3 minutes of a particular program, a 3-minute highlight montage from a program or programming series, a 30-second PSA, several PSAs, or a 3-minute, edited piece that tells the story of the campaign. The latter is very well received by judges, and they particularly like it when there is a voice over describing the goals, implementation and results of the campaign.


Beacon Award judging will occur in the spring of 2016. For the preliminary round, ACC will email several entries to judges to review anytime, anywhere during a one to two-week judging period. A panel of senior ACC members, cable communications and public affairs professionals will judge the final round and select the winning entries.

Q. Are all the categories judged by the same criteria?

A. Yes.

Current Judging criteria are as follows:

Planning and Strategy (20% of overall score)
Implementation (25% of overall score)
Results (35% of overall score)
Creativity (20% of overall score)

Judges are provided with a judging rubric and other materials to ensure that they all understand the judging criteria and have a similar frame of reference for judging entries.

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 what that means?

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 one to one and one-half 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 these judging criteria. The 2016 Beacon Award Call for Entries also requires that the entrant include a justification statement in the one to one and one-half page project summaries. This statement should explain why the entry category was chosen and prevents judges from questioning whether an entry is in the right category.

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