Saturday, November 29, 2014

Five Reasons to Serve as a Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Competition Judge

By Chris O'Neil
Communications Director

White wigged,black robed, gavel holding judgeWe’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s good to be the king.” (Thank you Mel Brooks)  But I’m here to tell you that it’s good to be the judge – well at least a judge.

That’s right, it’s good to be a judge, specifically, a judge for the National Association of Government Communicators’ Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards.

Ok, so there’s no crown jewels, court jesters, powdered wigs, black robes or cool gavels, but there still some good perks to serving as a judge for the annual competition that recognizes excellence in government communications in more than 40 categories (including the newest for Infographics).

What’s in it for me you may ask?  Here are five solid perks:

1.  Resume building creds.  We all work.  We all work hard.  We all work hard at communicating about our agencies.  Not every one gets the chance to work hard at evaluating competition submissions, providing insightful feedback and determining, sometimes by the narrowest of margins, who goes home with the plaque or trophy.  Truth.  Serving as a judge sets you apart from your contemporaries – it establishes you as a regarded subject matter expert with valuable experience from which others seek to learn.

2.  Insight.  Remember when you were learning to write news copy?  What did your instructor or professor tell you?  They told you to read, and then read some more.  When you serve as a judge you read a lot of submissions, which gives you insight.  You get to see what other teams are producing, how they are evaluating effort and success.  You get to see how they addressed an issue, developed a strategy, set goals and implemented tactics.  You get to see some good ideas.  Chances are some of that is bound to rub off and maybe help you with an issue or project you’ve been struggling with.

3.  Professional Development.  Judges don’t get away with simply giving a numeric value.  Our judges provide insightful remarks – they mentor folks who entered submissions.  Serving as a judge is a great way to sharpen your saw as a mentor, and to reinvigorate your commitment to the professional development of the communicators you supervise. 

4.  Bling.  If you attend the 2015 school, your name badge gets emblazoned with one of those wicked-cool ribbons that say you were a judge.  Hang that with your other event credentials.  Sweet.

5.  Sense of Pride.  Yeah, it’s pretty satisfying to know you had a hand in making someone else’s day, maybe even their career.  You’re the one.  Go you (cue Joy Zipper tune "One").

So there you have it, five solid reasons for becoming an NAGC Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards Competition judge.  So what are you waiting for?  Go to our website at, download the judge’s application form, fill it out, and take your first step to greater professional fulfillment.  It’s good to be a judge.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Being thankful for government communicators

Fellow communicators,

On Thanksgiving Day, I had a chance to reflect on my 33 years in government communications. It never fails to astound me just how broadly impactful our profession is to society.

All across the nation, and around the world, there are government communicators tirelessly working throughout the year to provide important information to the public. Webmasters ensuring that government websites are functioning to accept service applications from citizens. Speechwriters crafting the all-important words a public official needs to address a crisis. Graphic artists creating signage and promotional campaigns for safety initiatives. Media relations officers helping news reporters understand technical or complex issues and facilitating access to subject matter experts. Social media managers monitoring Twitter during a disaster and helping to direct emergency services to the areas that need them most. And I'm just scratching the surface.

There really is not an aspect of society that does not bear the mark of a government communicator. At all levels – federal, state, provincial, municipal, local, tribal – communication professionals are the shining light of government service.

Although too often unnoticed or unrecognized, what you do is vital and tremendously appreciated. So, on behalf of a grateful population, my fellow board members and I at the National Association of Government Communicators express our gratitude for your service and commitment

Revel in this day of thanks, and may you find much to be grateful for in your life.
John Verrico
National Association of Government Communicators
Good Communication … Good Government


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Get in those Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Entries Soon

By Cheryl V. Chambers, Competitions Director

It really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”  That song is stuck in my head, and I could not agree more.  What you may be thinking is, “Are you kidding?  We haven’t yet celebrated Thanksgiving.” 

Sorry to mislead you…it’s the time of year for entering the National Association of Government Communicators’ Blue Pencil and Gold Screen (BP&GS) competition.  (That song really is stuck in my head, though.) 

The awards competition is a terrific way to validate your work and compare it to what your peers are doing. Every entry receives written feedback from the judges who are fellow government communicators or subject matter experts in the award category.

Grant Kaiser, communication manager for Rocky View County in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and winner of last year’s Best in Show award, said, “[The awards program] helps bring credibility to the profession, and strengthens the case for the clear, open communication that I believe we all strive to provide citizens.  For my own organization, winning a NAGC award has been terrific for staff morale.  But most importantly, it has already helped me strengthen the idea that communicators belong at the table when decisions are made, and not just called in to ‘sell’ those decisions afterwards.”

In case you missed it, the National Association of Government Communicators hosted the Webinar, “How to Win a Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Award,” featuring former and current judges, and the multiple award-winning Fairfax (Va.) County Park Authority.  The Webinar is archived on NAGC’s website ( and highlights the DOs and Don’ts of entering NAGC’s highly-acclaimed competition.

The deadline for early submissions (Dec. 12) is fast approaching.  And don’t forget, it pays to enter early—who doesn’t love a discount for getting ahead of the game?  That holds true for becoming a member as well! (more discounts if you join NAGC).

With more than 40 categories and the chance to compete for “Best in Show,” the BP&GS Awards Competition, is truly a winner.  Check out the NAGC website or look for us on Facebook and LinkedIn for all the details and a chance to connect with other NAGC colleagues.  

Grab a “Call for Entries,” make your list and check it twice!  And with any luck, we’ll see you in next June in Memphis for “Blues, BBQs, and Government News.”