Everyone loves a little pat on the back.
It doesn’t matter if you are considering your own family members, friends you know, or in the profession you work.
I’m kind of lucky in that newspaper people operate their industry in one way that other national media do, including the Hollywood scene. We hand out awards.
We’ve all seen many of the awards shows on TV. They are actually pretty fun to watch in most cases since you see actors and actresses in a different setting, or maybe musical performances you might not normally see.
But I have laughed a bit about the whole premise of the Academy Awards, for instance. Isn’t that actually a bunch of people who work in the TV and movie industry all telling each other how great they are?
You know—“So and so is wins Best Actor of the Year.” Or Joe Blow is the “Best Producer” of the year. But truth be known, it’s the industry themselves voting to tell each other who is the best.
And we certainly know there is no shortage of awards to go around. There are so many that they can’t even fit them all into a two or three hour show and have occasional blurbs on the screen to mention a dozen minor award winners—all to give each other a pat on the back.
I don’t really see anything wrong with it since it is useful for promoting yourself, or your business if you get an award in some other industry, and for whatever reason we all seem to find it interesting to see who the winners are.
The media does the same thing, such as the Louisiana Press Association (LPA) that holds its annual “Better Newspaper Competition.” I’ve been involved with it for many years and the entire thing is massive. There are hundreds of entries, actually a few thousand, and the execs with the LPA send them off to judges in other states to decide who the winners will be. Here in Louisiana I get an occasional e-mail asking me to judge the contest from a neighboring state, so they’ve got a great system of helping each other out.
I’ve done the judging a few times and it does require a lot of time and effort. Depending on the category you are judging it might be 25 different feature stories that you must read. And of course, just like the Academy Awards, we have nearly 30 categories and nine different newspaper divisions. So do the math and you can see it’s a lot of entries.
It’s all done so the LPA, as so many other organizations, can hold its big “Awards Banquet” once a year when we newspaper folks gather together to hear the announcements of the many winners.
The Slidell Independent seems to do well at these contests—Tammany West is still not a member of the Louisiana Press Association yet, so it can’t enter. But since the staffs running these two parish papers are virtually the same, the awards we get feel a lot like they are for both papers.
And this year The Slidell Independent received the top award possible in our weekly publication division when we were given first place for “General Excellence,” which is basically a review of the entire paper as a whole.
Betsy Swenson, our Mandeville girl who is the Lifestyle Columnist, received first place for her column and given something they call the Sam Hanna Writing Award—given in the name of a longtime, highly-respected Louisiana columnist. I am hoping that nudges our girl to do her column every week, something that is tough for her with four kids to chase around.
At any rate, you see how our awards have a connection to Tammany West as well as The Slidell Independent.
At the end of the day, we brought home a record number of awards for writing, ad design, overall Best News Coverage, Best Lifestyle Coverage and a host of other things and yes, it felt nice to get that “pat on the back.” We had 11 first place awards and 26 awards overall of first through third.
I was discussing the conference with a local hospital executive before I went and was reminded that hospitals are also quite big at finding ways to receive awards from various national organizations. I’ve seen automobile dealerships with lots of awards for the best this and that, I’ve gotten press materials about restaurants winning awards, and certainly we’ve seen a lot of “Chef of the Year” honors given out.
I remember financial services companies awarding top salesmen, and even flooring companies having some way to say “we are the best!” So the idea of awards is pretty well spread around even if we, the media, get to blow our own horn when we win things. Heck, the TV guys get to put themselves in front of millions!
It all goes back to our egos, doesn’t it? We all want to receive some kind of recognition or acknowledgement for a job well done—whether it has to do with raising your kids, cooking a good meal for the family at the end of the day, or in our case, writing the best stories and building the best ads.
Keep that in mind as you go through your daily routine—home or at work. Everyone likes a pat on the back.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.