Enter the Contest. And Go to the Banquet.

We editors receive no shortage of feedback these days. Between the comments sections that accompany our online articles, postings on LinkedIn and Facebook, tweets, e-mails, and even old-fashioned phone calls, it sometimes can seem like our readers spend more time reacting to our words than we spent writing and editing them.

How uplifting it is, then, to receive feedback of a different kind — feedback that lets you know that not only are you fulfilling your publication’s or Web site’s mission of informing, showcasing, and entertaining your readers, but also your goal to remain at the forefront of your own profession, the profession of journalism.

Independent editorial and design competitions, like those sponsored by ASBPE and others, offer an important opportunity for that kind of feedback — an opportunity we ought not to squander, for many reasons.

Just the act of assembling the entries for such competitions is an uplifting experience. Many times we begin the process wondering if, in the course of our ever-more hurried workweeks, we really have managed to produce anything outstanding this past year, anything that we could objectively deem award-worthy. But the act of paging through our past issues and Web postings reassures us that we have, in fact, produced some amazing work.

Whether we win an award or not, the act of assembling the entries and writing the descriptions of the enterprise that went into creating them reminds us that we really did perform some minor miracles. Even if we never win an award, it is more than worthwhile to take a few minutes to revel in the year’s accomplishments.

Reassurance. Of course, it’s great to win. When we do, we are reassured that our work is meeting not only the standards we set for ourselves, but the standards set by the profession at large as well. It signifies that our editorial staffs are producing content that other editors would deem to be outstanding, and this is critical to ensuring that we remain at the cutting edge of the profession.

Awards also serve as important tools for reiterating to our employer organizations that we are doing an outstanding job. As many ASBPE Webinar speakers have noted recently, finding ways to quantify and therefore measure what we do as B2B editors can sometimes be a challenge; enumerating our awards to our employers can be a concrete way to demonstrate the service that we provide to our readers and value that we add to our organizations.

And though this may seem trivial, it’s important to participate in the awards presentations and the banquets or luncheons that accompany them. In this era of online education courses and Webinars, we rarely have the opportunity to interact with each other face to face anymore. Attending the awards presentations in person gives us the opportunity to renew ties with former colleagues, meet the new faces of the profession, and examine each other’s work.

Sizing Up the Competition. Communications experts tell us that the vast majority of all messages are delivered in nonverbal ways; how can we possibly communicate with each other, learn from each other, and get to know one another without laying eyes on one another? How can we judge our work against others’ if we never see the work produced by others?

The next time “awards season” rolls around, consider taking the time to enter. And if you’re lucky enough to win (and maybe even if you’re not), go to the lunch. It’s worth the effort.

By Laurie Shuster

Laurie Shuster is the managing editor of Civil Engineering magazine in Reston, Virginia.

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