Judging the IABC Gold Quill Awards – Measuring Communications Excellence
Transform’s CEO Christine Dvoracek has again been selected to judge the annual International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Gold Quill Awards. We’ve interviewed her to find out more about the Awards, her motivation as a judge and what she believes are the critical elements of achieving success as a business communicator.
What are the IABC Gold Quill Awards and how did you get involved?
IABC is the International Association for Business Communicators. The Gold Quill Awards recognise and foster excellence in communications globally, setting an international standard for us communications professionals.
I’ve been an IABC member since I first started working in business communications and the Awards have played a significant role in my professional life. When I started out I studied the Awards entries to better understand what makes for excellent work compared to ‘good’ or ‘competent’ work. It set me a benchmark to aspire to.
What do you see as valuable about the IABC Gold Quill Awards?
I think the most valuable part of the awards is the reward and recognition it provides.
Often as business communication professionals, we do our work in isolation – we don’t always get to see what others in the profession are doing. The IABC Gold Quill Awards provide an opportunity to have our work assessed by our peers globally. I remember when I had my first win, how inspiring it was to know that what we were doing here in Australia measured up globally in terms of the quality of our work. That first win was over 20 years ago. Back then it definitely encouraged me to continue to aim high. Now, as CEO of Transform, it gives me enormous satisfaction that we’ve won three Gold Quills and our work continues to measure up with the best of the best globally. We’re constantly striving to give our clients our best – to do great work that supports their success.
Tell as more about your role and what interested you about being a judge?
My role as a judge is to assess entrants against strict evaluation criteria and grade entries using a scoring rubric. It is this rigor involved with the judging process that I really love. Every time you judge, you need to be refreshed on your skills, thoroughly understand the criteria and rubric that you’re using, and you are paired up with a fellow judge so you can calibrate your assessment and ensure consistent results.
A major part of judging is giving constructive, useful feedback to entrants on where they can improve. So even if you don’t win an Award, entrants can still benefit from that constructive feedback and an impartial assessment.
There are a few reasons why I continue to judge. It’s a way to give back to the profession, a way of encouraging and helping foster excellence in other communicators. And I’ve always really enjoyed connecting with my fellow judges and value the stimulating conversations we’ve had sharing and comparing our thinking through the process.
Finally, I’m a firm believer in continuous learning. All of us can learn at every stage in our careers. While naturally you come to judging with a lot of experience, being exposed to fantastic work keeps you fresh and motivated. When you see great work it inspires you – that passion never fades.
What do you think is key to achieving excellence in the field of business communications?
A measurement mindset is the key to excellence. The IABC Gold Quill Awards definitely foster that.
The Quills have a big focus on the achievement of measurable results – the communications outputs and outcomes achieved and how they align to and support business needs. There’s also an emphasis on deeply understanding your target audience and key stakeholders, preferably using qualitative and quantitative audience research so you are really tapping into their needs and characteristics. To me, those things help set the Gold Quills apart and promote excellence in the field.