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GIA Awards for Excellence Categories

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Print and Digital Publishing

This category recognizes innovative digital and print publishing. Entries must be the work of an institution’s alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, or public affairs program. Outside technical assistance is permissible, but concept, organization, and design must be the work of the entrant. 

A. Single or Special Issue
This category is for single or special issue print and digital publishing. Entries in this category may include annual reports, fundraising or marketing collateral materials, community impact or community service reports, patient information or education materials, commemoratives, or any other non-periodical publications. 

B. External Audience
This category is for print and digital periodicals intended for external audiences. Examples included in this category are medical school or hospital magazines and newsletters produced primarily for external constituencies (e.g., patients, referring physicians, alumni, donors, community leaders, or other external groups). Entries must include two consecutive issues of the periodical. 

C. Internal Audience
This category is for print and digital periodicals intended for internal audiences. Examples included in this category are magazines, newsletters, and other serial publications intended primarily for employees and/or faculty of a medical school or teaching hospital/health system. Entries must include two consecutive issues of the periodical. 

Electronic Communications

This category recognizes innovative and strategy-driven digital, multimedia, and online projects. Entries must be the work of an institution’s alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, or public affairs program. Outside technical assistance is permissible, but concept, organization, and design must be the work of the entrant. 

A. Audio and Video
Entries in this category may include, but are not limited to, video news releases, radio or broadcast advertising, podcasts, special event audio and video, or multimedia presentations. Entries that are part of a serial program must be submitted as three or more segments. Narratives, files, and/or links to supporting materials (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, or items in a Drop Box) must be submitted online.

B. Websites
Entries in this category include website-based projects, such as internal or external websites or consumer/constituent portals developed to support an institution, campaign, program, or special initiative. Narratives, which should be uploaded into the online form, may include screenshots or point out particular features of the site to help convey the impact of your project. Links to websites must be entered in the final section of the online submission form.

C. Social Media
Entries in this category must make unique and strategic use of interactive online communications, communities, or social networks and can include, but are not limited to, blogs and pages/sites or campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and/or other platforms. Narratives, which should be uploaded into the online form, may include screenshots or point out particular features of the project to help convey the impact of your project. Links to relevant social media sites must be entered in the final section of the online submission form.

The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards

This award honors Robert G. Fenley, chair of the AAMC Group on Public Affairs (now the Group on Institutional Advancement) from 1985-86. “I truly enjoy explaining,” Bob Fenley once said in an interview. A former Dallas Times Herald science editor, Fenley directed the medical information office at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas from 1970-1989. Fenley valued communicating the promise of medicine and science, which he thought was best done in good, plain English. The University of Texas won more than 150 national and regional awards during his tenure, including honors from the AAMC. He was particularly known for his witty yet incisive columns in the former GIA newsletter, News & Comment. “Real quality and solid content,” he wrote in that forum, “are most often attained by real work and solid discrimination. This comes through most often in simple, direct form that doesn’t need manipulation.” Fenley died on April 28, 1989, of lung cancer. The AAMC established the Robert G. Fenley Writing Award in his memory.

Entries may include articles in internal publications, electronic or web-based publications, annual reports, brochures, magazine articles, newsletters, case statements, or other published works. Submitted pieces are not subjected to a word limit.

A. Basic Science Staff Writing
Entries include articles about basic and bench research. Basic science articles must be written by a staff member of a medical school or teaching hospital. 

B. General Staff Writing
Entries include articles about any other topic related to science or medicine that is not basic or bench research. General articles must be written by a staff member of a medical school or teaching hospital.

C. Solicited Articles
This category is for articles written by freelancers, alumni, students, or patients; however, a staff member/editor must have worked closely with the writer in soliciting, shaping, and editing the piece. The editor’s role in developing, soliciting, shaping, and editing the submitted article should be explained in the narrative.

D. News Releases
Entries include news and/or media releases of any nature for any audience showcasing the ability to explain complex information in an informative and engaging manner. The entry should be written by a staff member of a medical school or teaching hospital. 

The “Shoestring” Award

Projects of special merit with a significantly reduced, limited, or shoestring budget will be recognized in this category. Appropriate projects are one-time or first-time initiatives or the continuation of existing programs with reduced resources. (If the latter, provide this year’s and last year’s budgets and samples from both years.) No dollar maximums are established for this category. 

Special Events, Projects, Programs, or Campaigns

This category serves as a “catch all” category. If your project does not fall into one of the other Awards for Excellence categories, you may submit it here. Possible entries in this category include, but are not limited to, alumni subset programs, engagement events, alumni reunions, mock interviews, annual campaigns, capital campaigns, public or media relations initiatives, brand development and special promotion, community outreach and communication, and “Project Medical Education” programs.  

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives 

This category recognizes innovative and impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives or campaigns. Entries must be the work of an institution’s alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, or public affairs units. Please include the extent to which the initiative has not only achieved its own goals, but also contributed to DEI within the context of the institution’s mission and for the advancement of academic medicine. Possible entries in this category include, but are not limited to, alumni and volunteer programs, multimedia content (podcasts/videos/photos), donor/campus events, annual reports, community outreach/dialogues, social media campaigns, internal/external communications, and recruitment. 

Crisis Management

This category recognizes strategic approaches and activities undertaken to deal with unexpected events that required immediate response during a crisis or issue. Possible topics in this category include, but are not limited to, pivoting due to the pandemic, reputation management, safety issues, and campus issues.

The “Pandemic Pivot” Award: Judges’ Choice

The Pandemic Pivot is a judges’ choice award that recognizes creativity and overall innovation in the institutional advancement community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Entries that demonstrate creative thinking, an innovative approach, and the ability to adapt and quickly change course may be considered for this honor. All entries submitted to the 2021 Awards for Excellence competition may be eligible to receive this award. This award is given at the discretion of the GIA Awards for Excellence judges.

Best in Show Award: Judges’ Choice

Best in Show is a judges’ choice award that recognizes overall program excellence. Entries that include comprehensiveness, productivity, impact, and overall excellence as a result of the program or project implementation may be considered for this honor. Demonstration and impact of a comprehensive strategy, goal achievement, and implementation of objectives designed for significant impact are vital. All entries submitted to the 2021 Awards for Excellence competition may be eligible to receive this award. This award is given at the discretion of the GIA Awards for Excellence judges.

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