After the events in Boston, turning to business-as-usual seems trite. Frankly, I haven’t been motivated to write blog posts. So I took a break last week. That was my awkward pause as a healthcare marketing blogger. But here I am, back to business-as-usual, attempting to write a blog post about life in healthcare marketing. I guess business-as-usual is not trite; it’s just not as important as matters of life and death.

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IMG_2954The typical year in healthcare marketing has cycles. In some ways the cycles are driven by budgets and fiscal years. Holidays also impact our work flow. We don’t do a lot of media placement in the summer, for example, and lots of work comes to a halt over the Christmas Holiday season. You get the idea. There is also an awards season and a conference season. For the last six to eight weeks we’ve been in that part of the year when we have submitted many award entries for our various hospital clients and now must wait a number of weeks to hear whether any of the work actually won awards. It is part of the cycle within healthcare marketing. The Healthcare Advertising Awards, Aster Awards, and for us, the Lamplighter Awards (New England Society for Healthcare Communications) have deadlines for submission in January, February and March. But the announcement of winners doesn’t typically come until May 1. For the Lamplighter Awards, the news will come at an awards dinner on May 20th.

By the time the winners are announced, I have trouble remembering what we’ve submitted. And frankly, the work is at least a year old by that point in time, and my attention has turned to executing new audience engagement programs for our clients. Participating in these awards competitions is expensive and time consuming. And I’m often leery of the judging panels, even though I serve on two of them myself: The National Health Information Awards and the Web Health Awards. Often work that I that I am impressed with will not receive much recognition, while work that I’m less enthused about garners all kinds of awards.

The whole world of awards is strange. One thing I like about the Lamplighter Awards is that, rather than simply being a beauty contest, they are based on measurable results: How did the marketing help your organization achieve its business objectives? For each entry, we have to write a Challenge Statement that outlines the context for the work, the objectives and the results. It’s a lot of work to prepare those entries, but winning is more meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when our clients’ marketing wins the beauty contests as well! It just feels more subjective or arbitrary.

There’s a tendency when preparing award entries to think that every piece is a masterpiece. In my opinion, when you do it right, the decision-making process should be painful. You should narrow your entries to your absolute best work, and even then try to narrow your list of submissions. As you contemplate what to enter in various competitions, it is important to avoid falling in love with all of your work. I’ve seen it happen all too often.

Enjoy winning all those awards, but approach each competition in a thoughtful manner.

Note: As I was writing this blog post I received an email that the Healthcare Advertising Awards competition had announced its winner. What timing. And yes, our clients won a few.

1 comment on “That Awkward Pause

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