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Creating Winning Communications
March 20, 2003

The moderator, Michael Weinbeck, opened this program, assuring those of us in attendance that it was intended primarily to share lessons learned in how to develop stellar communications pieces, from the best of the best, not to plug the 2003 Maroon and Gold Awards. (But we all laughed, since the projection monitor had the UMCF Maroon and Gold Awards logo plastered on the wall behind him.)

The program consisted of stories of lessons learned, challenges overcome, and what makes a winner a winner from four panelists, three of whom were Gold (1st prize) winners of last year's UMCF Maroon and Gold Awards. What follows is a summary of each panel speaker's stories.

Shawn Welch, Art Director, Printing Services
This Printing Services promotional piece, Imagine the Possibilities, won the 2002 Gold Award for graphic design.

Shawn shared that this project took five weeks to produce: one week of planning, two weeks of design and revision, and two weeks of production. The week of planning was key in the success of this project. Their challenge was deciding what information to include in the product, since the audience varied from new to returning customers. They chose to demonstrate simple printing applications, like spot color and duo/tri/mono-tones, as well as advanced (albeit expensive) techniques, such as tinted varnish. Having the support of the experienced staff at Printing Services really helped make this is a winning piece.

Paul Sorenson, Communications Director, Institute of Technology
This article, Superhero Science, was printed in the IT alumni magazine, Inventing Tomorrow, Winter 2002, and won the 2002 Gold Award for writing.

What may have won the hearts of judges in this writing piece was the child-like nostalgia and excitement both the writer, Paul, and the interviewee, a University physics professor, had about the primary subject matter: Superheroes! Paul had three interviews with the professor to prepare this piece, the first of which was a four-hour in-person conversation! The challenge Paul had was bringing all this excitement (and his pages of notes) into one concise article, which he finally came around to doing at two o'clock one morning with his opening line: "Somewhere in a parallel universe, a mild-mannered physics professor named Jim Kakalios dons a cape and tights to battle the forces of evil." Although Paul was hesitant at first to use this opening line, he realized, with the support of his colleagues, that it suited the content perfectly: his whole approach to the article was flavored by his knowledge and love of comics.

Laura Weber, Communications Director, General College
This General College Alumni Newsletter, Access, won the 2002 Gold Award for Newsletter for Non Students, Staff, or Faculty. This newsletter also won a CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Award.

Laura's original request to the designer at Printing Services, , was to design a 2-color cover for the newsletter. However, Sysouk, being the adventurous designer that he is, worked up a 4-color design, which Laura's boss couldn't pass up. (Apparently, 4-color design is not that much more expensive than 2-color, in this case.) Laura feels it's the design of a product that pulls people in, and the design of this particular newsletter was helpful in winning it the awards. The challenge she felt in this piece was in working with the development office, and in making the content seem more interesting than it was, by nature, through the writing, editing, photography, and layout.

Kristeen Bullwinkle, Web Services Manager, College of Education and Human Development
Kristeen, a Publicity Committee member, provided information on what makes a winning Web site, and what the new Web categories in the 2003 Maroon and Gold Awards will consist of. Kristeen displayed the University of Colorado at Boulder: International Prospective Student Web Site a CASE Award winner. Successful components of this site include navigation, user-centered design, content written specifically for the Web, innovation, and creativity. In addition, Web sites submitted to the UMCF award will be judged on accessibility for users with disabilities, using the UMN accessibility guidelines. There are five Web or Internet-based Communications Projects and they include: Entire Web site, Online Applications/Services, Online Newsletter or Magazine, Recurring Group E-mail Communication, and Integrated Media Campaign. See the award guidelines for more information on these new Web-related categories.

Questions Asked
"How many 'communicators' are in your workgroup? What kind of support do you have?"

  • Shawn Welch: Lots. He's in the printing services group. Has three designers and a student intern designer, but no writers.
  • Paul Sorenson: In a small shop.
  • Laura Weber: Only communicator in her group.
  • Kristeen Bullwinkle: Lots. Part of communications office at College of Education.

"What is it like editing your own work?" (Addressed to Laura Weber.)

  • Has outside copyeditor check her writing.

"Can you tell us more about the guidelines for the 2003 UMCF M/G Awards?"

The 2003 Maroon and Gold Awards
Michael Weinbeck shared some general information about the awards, and which are as follows:

  • Print competition judges are made up of last year's winners
  • Internet judges are made up of University of Minnesota pros
  • Each category has two Maroon and one Gold winner
  • Highest scoring receives Gold award
  • Second and third highest scores receive Maroon award
  • Entry must be deemed by judges to be at an award-winning level
  • Entry deadline: April 11 - Internet Entries; April 18 - Print Entries

For more information, please visit the Guidelines for the 2003 Maroon and Gold Awards.

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