I was thrilled when I found out my submission for RTOERO’s Liaison e-newsletter won a 2021 Gold Quill Award of Excellence in the Communications for Web category. The e-newsletter shares relevant and useful information about healthy aging and the retirement journey with RTOERO members, who are education retirees. Liaison is emailed bimonthly, in English and French, to more than 51,000 members across Canada.
For background, RTOERO is a bilingual, trusted voice on healthy, active aging. We were founded by members of the education community more than 50 years ago. We’ve evolved to be the largest membership organization of our kind — a nonprofit and nationwide network. With more than 81,000 members across Canada, we’re influential advocates and the largest national provider of nonprofit group health insurance for education retirees. Our members come from the broader education community. They work in or are retired from the early years, school boards, private schools, post-secondary institutions or any other capacity in education. RTOERO continuously works to improve communication with members and strengthen its position as a trusted voice on healthy aging topics for both members and seniors alike.
I have worked at RTOERO for three years and, along with the other members of the marketing and communications team, have submitted to many awards programs on behalf of the organization. We don’t win them all, but we always use the valuable feedback from the judging process to adjust our work samples and work plans for future award opportunities.
Years ago, while preparing some of my first award submissions, I was reminded that not winning doesn’t mean you’re not doing great work. Writing award submissions is challenging. It requires clear and concise data-driven analysis, as well as rationale for all aspects of the work. It also is a process that you learn from each time you do it. Although it’s always a great feeling to share the awards you win as a team, there also is a personal win of professional development involved.
The Gold Quill Awards submission process has positively affected the way I think about and do my work. While working on Liaison e-newsletters (and other projects), I am more conscious about aligning the content back to RTOERO’s goals and brand pillars. I refine article topics to ensure they present information in way that can easily connect back to RTOERO as an organization and as a thought leader, especially on topics such as retirement planning, healthy aging and insurance.
We also measure more consistently and with clear goals in mind. The annual Liaison member survey helps us track progress and feedback not only for our internal Liaison communications plan, but for award submissions like Gold Quill as well.
For others submitting Gold Quill Awards, here are two pieces of advice:
- Give yourself plenty of time. When working on projects like award submissions, I often give myself personal deadlines that are earlier than the actual submission deadline. This ensures I have some buffer time to review and refine. While working on awards, you still have your regular day-to-day work to do. Sometimes, time designated toward awards has to shift due to high-priority work or unexpected projects.
- They’re worth it! Of course awards are amazing to win, but even if you don’t end up winning some hardware, the process is quite rewarding in itself. It forces you to evaluate your processes and analyze why you’re doing work in a certain way. This can either be reassuring that you’re on the right track (a great feeling) or cause realization that you should shift your work to accomplish more ideal and strategic outcomes (a learning experience).
Stefanie Martin, CMP
Stefanie Martin, CMP, is the senior specialist for marketing and communications at RTOERO.