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It may have been a dark and wintery night outside, but inside the Hilton on the Park on 26 May it was all dazzling lights and glamour for the communications industry night of nights!

Apart from gathering to enjoy a three-course dinner and stimulating conversation with our peers, we were also there to congratulate the inaugural winners of IABC Victoria’s 2011 Bronze Quill Awards, the gateway to Gold Quills!

Below you can read more about the eight Victorian winners this year. They have also generously passed on their tips for winning so that next year, it could be you on stage enjoying the limelight!

Laura Butler 

Internal Communications Manager, GE Capital

Laura accepts her award with her colleagues.

In a nutshell, what was your project about?

The project was ‘Our Story Week’; a one-week initiative which aimed to tell GE’s story, drive advocacy amongst employees, and build trust. The week followed the launch of GE Capital’s brand strategy in Australia and New Zealand, where all key messages were streamlined under three areas of commitment; to People, Performance, and Planet. During Our Story Week, all activities, events, and messages aimed to share this story and encouraged employees to do the same.

What does winning a Bronze Quill mean to you?

Winning a Bronze Quill is a great honour and a testament to the work that went into creating Our Story Week. It was a group effort and the entire Communications team should be recognised and celebrated. It’s also fantastic for the Communications team’s efforts to support the business be recognised by an international association like the IABC.

Any tips to share to help future entrants?

Work the submission around with your team to share ideas and generate input. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to proofread your submission!

Christine Dvoracek, ABC

Director, Transform Consulting

Chris accept her award with Melissa Dark (left) and Vic President Jennifer Frahm.

No stranger to winning awards, Chris  took out a Bronze and a Gold Quill this year! In receiving her award at the Gala Dinner in May, Chris was keen to share the glory with her clients, DuluxGroup

Tell us more about your project?

The project was to support my clients the DuluxGroup in their demerger from Orica. A significant part of the demerger process was the requirement for employees in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea to transfer their employment from Orica to DuluxGroup. DuluxGroup asked Transform to assist with the internal communication of the demerger to employees, including communicating the letter-of-offer process to transfer employment. This meant communicating every aspect of changes to pay and benefits as a result of the demerger, including the new executive long-term incentive plan and general employee share plan.

The feedback about the internal communications from DuluxGroup has been very positive. Employees around the business have consistently commented positively about the frequency, clarity and transparency of the information provided. In particular, DuluxGroup was very happy with the fact that 100% of employees transferred their employment prior to the target date of 1 July. This process went smoothly with no disruption to business as usual. The demerger intranet site remained in the top 5 most visited pages on the DuluxGroup intranet during the demerger process.

What does winning mean to you?

While I have won gold quills before, this is extra special. It's a first for Transform Consulting, my own business, and a triumph for DuluxGroup with a challenging project to support their demerger.

As a multiple winner, what tips can you pass on for entrants?

 1. Make sure you establish a clear link to how the communications program supported business success – what was the business need/case, and how did you measure it? That way you can establish communications goals that clearly link to the business need.

2. For your communications goals, make sure you have good measures. If you can, make them SMART: specific, measurable (i.e. able to be measured), achievable, realistic and time-bound.

3. In wrapping up your work plan, clearly link results back to your SMART measures. If you have set good measures up front, this should be easy. That way you'll have a solid case for how the comms program supported business success.

James Howe

Communications Manager, Ambulance Victoria.

This year was James’ first time entering the Gold Quills and it is fantastic that he has achieved a Bronze.

James accepts his award with Melissa Dark (left) and Jennifer Frahm.

Tell us about your project?

In 2009 Ambulance Victoria paramedics were the frontline response to the 'swine flu' pandemic. In order to increase compliance with safety precautions, the organisation engaged in a cheeky and innovative internal communication campaign. Through the use of posters, stickers and even a cut out 'pig mask', paramedic compliance increased to 93% and sick leave actually decreased by 1.1 hours per employee per month, saving significant overtime costs and increasing available services to patients.

What does winning a Bronze Quill mean to you?

This was my first time entering the Gold Quills and it was such a rewarding experience. It really clarified in a practical sense the best approach to communication planning and evaluation. This is now a skill and template that I've shared with the rest of my team to help us create our communication campaigns in the future.

Any tips to share to help future entrants?

Take advantage of the information and support available! As I first time entrant I was amazed at the level of support of available to assist with my entry, from a free webinar with input from the judges down to an individual mentor for first time applicants. I was lucky enough to be assisted in the process with former Gold Quill winner Kelly Vandrine as my mentor to help explain the intricacies and support me in my submission. I can't encourage others enough to participate in the future.

Lelde McCoy

Director, Ogilvy Public Relations

In addition to receiving a Bronze Quill Award tonight, she has also won a Gold Quill, for the second time!


Lelde accepts her Bronze Quill.

Can you tell us about your project?

Ogilvy Public Relations loved working on the “To Donate Life, Discuss It Today – OK” Campaign for the  Organ and Tissue Authority as it gave us an opportunity to  address  a critical social issue in Australia – that of increasing Australia’s family consent rate for organ and tissue donation to proceed. 

It was a campaign to help save lives by encouraging more Australians to discuss and make known their organ and tissue donation wishes with family or next of kin.  Community response to it was excellent, especially through sociol media where many Australians shared their stories to inspire others to make their wishes known.

The success of the campaign was supported by the latest organ donation figures which showed that 309 donors and their families had saved or significantly improved the lives of 931 Australians in 2010. This is the highest annual total of transplants in Australia's donation and transplantation history.

What does winning the Award mean to you?

Ogilvy PR is thrilled to have won a Gold and Bronze Quill. Our client, the Organ and Tissue Authority is a relatively new organization and they are also very excited that their first social marketing campaign has been recognized on this way. At Ogilvy, we regard winning a Gold Quill as the best peer evaluation you can get. The judges are some of the most successful communications professionals in the world. Their standards are very high, so winning an award is especially rewarding.

Any tips to share to help future entrants?

1. Answer each section of your award entry in a comprehensive way – judges score each section

2.  Ensure your objectives are measurable and that your evaluation section matches your objectives

3. Fully describe your Intended audience – what’s their profile, what are their needs and what communication channels do they prefer?

4. In the strategy and tactics sections emphasise the creativity, imagination and innovation that is present in the project being entered

5. Include a detailed budget and describe why your project represents good value for money

6. Provide a variety of evidence  as to the project’s success including the evaluation measures that were used and the results, focusing on the quantitative.

7. Organise your work sample so that is easy for the judges to see the various elements of the project in a logical way.

Kelly Vandrine

Internal Communications Manager, Bupa Australia

Can you tell us about your project?

The Growth program was designed to educate all Bupa Australia people on what the company’s growth goals were, and excite and motivate them to help achieve these goals.

The program was called ‘Around the Bupa world in 365 days’. The aim was for all Bupa Australia people to ‘virtually travel’ 28,000km around the world, which represented 28,000 new people joining Bupa – each new person to take out a membership with Bupa represented one kilometre travelled.

During the journey, we stopped at each of the Bupa offices around the world and learnt more about their business. The goal was to return back to Australia in less than 365 days (and therefore meet our yearly growth target). 

Each time we reached one of our Bupa destinations, someone in the company was rewarded with a trip for two to that location. During their trip, they were required to visit the Bupa office and take photos. On their return, they were also asked to write a small piece about their journey which was published in several of our communication channels. 

While we were racing around the Bupa World in 365 days (or less), we were also racing our PHI competitors around the world to win industry quarterly market share.

What does your win mean to you?

It’s really exciting to be recognised for this project as it was a team initiative and we all worked really hard for more than twelve months to first get it up and running, then to get all of our people to understand the program, and lastly, to get people excited and motivated to contribute to Bupa’s growth. As a result of the program, Bupa achieved and exceeded it’s growth targets.

Do you have any tips for future entrants?

Keep your application simple and to the point by answering the questions that are asked. Although you may want to put everything in the application, only submit what is requested. Your entry is about work you have already done in the past 12 months– you don’t have to go about creating something new!

Kelly Vandrine & Jon Mills

Internal Communications Manager & Graphic Designer, Bupa Australia

Their project, ‘Helping employees understand Bupa’s strategy’, was a success that they have both won a Gold Quill Award this year as well as Bronze!

In a nutshell, what was your project about?

This project was designed to engage employees with the business strategy, help them understand the objectives and take a sense of pride in being part of one company following the merger of Bupa Australia and MBF.

What does your win mean to you?

We are really proud of the work we did on this project and our achievements. Engaging employees to understand the business strategy, and the important role they all play is a challenge faced by companies around the world.

Do you have any tips for future entrants?

I think it’s important to think about measurement when beginning a project and ensure that it’s a part of the plan – and start writing your entry as early as possible!

Amy Baird

Internal Communications Manager, AIA Australia

Amy’s entry in the employee communications category also won her a Gold Quill Award. Unfortunately Amy wasn't able to attend the Gala Dinner and she will be presented with her award soon.

Can you tell us about your project?

The implementation of a new company strategy was the focus of my submission. AIA Australia is a specialist provider of life insurance products aimed at protecting the financial health and welfare of Australians. The organisation had gone through a substantial period of change at the end of 2009 including a complete rebrand, appointment of a new CEO and change from reporting to a US parent company to alignment with the Asian arm of the business and a Hong Kong head office.

The organisational strategy was called ‘Fast Forward’ – hence the name of the submission: AIA Australia ‘Fast Forwards’ to a new strategic direction.

The project was implemented over an almost 11 month period and consisted of three phases – each containing measurement and reporting elements so that the progress could be tracked throughout implementation.

What does your win mean to you?

I think it is fantastic that communicators are able to share their work and learn from other professionals through recognition programs such as the IABC Gold Quill program. Especially for solo practitioners such as myself, the opportunity to gain feedback and to share your ideas with a wider circle is extremely valuable.

Any tips to share to help future entrants?

Measurement is a key criteria in the evaluation process – ensure this part of your entry is robust. There should be very clear linkages between your objectives, your methods and your outcomes. Show that you set a specific goal and developed plans to achieve precisely that. Once you implemented your plan, show that you spent the time and resources in evaluating your success against your original goal.”

Writing a Gold Quill entry takes a considerable time commitment (much more than I would have thought!). It can take many hours in each of the planning, information gathering and writing phases. Start early – it’s almost never too soon to begin – and build specific writing time into your schedule so it doesn’t fall to the wayside.  t can be hard to find the time but it’s worth it not only for the chance to challenge yourself against peers around the world but also because it forces you reflect on your own work and justify each stage of your decision making. It is almost impossible to find time for this sort of reflection with competing day-to-day priorities but it’s very worthwhile.