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10 Oct 2012

Improvements to the Spark Awards Judging Process

By Kevin Dudley, Spark Awards Judging Chair

Greetings fellow MarCom members!
Hard to believe, but the Spark Awards entry packet will be available next month!
This year, we’re planning on improving the judging process in order to ensure that each entry is judged in a fair and thorough manner. Instead of having a MarCom-like organization in another city judge the entries, we’re planning on creating a panel of local marketing and communications professionals to judge entries.
This helps ensure thorough judging in one major way: We can fully monitor the judging process.
In the past, we’ve worked with out-of-market organizations to judge your entries. As our Spark Awards have grown, this out-of-market approach has resulted in some challenges for us, including incomplete judging of entries, misjudged entries and a lack of commitment of other organizations to invest the time and people needed to fairly judge all entries submitted. These challenges put the Spark Award chairs in a bind with very little time to notify winners and prepare the award materials.
As a volunteer board, neither I nor any of the MarCom board members have been in a position to monitor the judging when it was conducted in another city. Keeping the judging local will enable us to better monitor the process and maintain the integrity of the Spark Awards.
Here’s the plan for the 2013 Spark Award judging process:
1. We’ll solicit 10-15 local marketing and communication professionals to be judges.
2. Judges can be a mixture of MarCom members, non-members, and possibly college professors.
3. Judges will be from companies or organizations that DID NOT SUBMIT AN ENTRY. 
4. Judges will be assigned entries that avoid any conflicts of interest.
5. We’ll choose no more than two dates for entries to be judged, where MarCom board members will be present to help facilitate and answer any questions.
6. MarCom Board members will only troubleshoot any issues and answer questions the judges have – we will not influence the judging process.
Other organizations within our community have a similar process for judging various awards programs. Judging anything will always be subjective. The MarCom board will work to ensure the entries are judged comprehensively and without bias.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at or 509.321.3612.
Our top responsibility is always to serve our membership. We want you to understand the process and are open to any feedback you have so the Spark Awards remain the region’s premiere award for marketing and communications professionals.

- Kevin Dudley, Spark Awards Judging Chair