Changes to Communications Award Contest

The Col. Marvin J. Harris Communications Award Contest is evolving so more councils and chapters can be recognized for their outstanding communication efforts. Affiliates’ communication efforts now will be judged using a standard set of objective and subjective criteria — similar to the way councils and chapters are judged during MOAA’s Levels of Excellence Award Contest.

The new evaluation criteria for print and e-newsletters and websites is posted on MOAA’s website. If your affiliate plans to submit a contest entry in 2016 for communication efforts that took place this year, take time to review and implement the new judging criteria now. Fortunately, implementing the new judging criteria should be easy.

Some of the major changes to the communications contest include:

  • Affiliates now will compete in two categories of competition — print and e-newsletters and websites.
  • Any affiliate that meets the standards set forth in the judging criteria will receive an award. Previously, only three awards were given in each category of competition, and the awards often went to the same group of councils and chapters each year. Under the new rules, the playing field has been leveled.
  • Extra credit points will be awarded to councils and chapters for communication efforts that go above and beyond the established judging criteria and standards. This will allow affiliates who might be weak in one area to still win an award by allowing the judges to consider their overall communication efforts, which may include setting up a Facebook page, establishing an email network, publishing a membership directory, etcetera.
  • Affiliates now will submit only one copy of their print or e-newsletter for evaluation. Previously, affiliates had to submit three copies. Please coordinate your submission with your fellow affiliate leaders to avoid duplicate submissions. This streamlined approach is intended to ease the burden placed on affiliate leaders who often forwarded multiple submissions or needed to gather materials from several sources before submitting their entry packet.

Other contest changes reflect MOAA’s ongoing commitment to increase grassroots legislative advocacy. To increase support for pending legislation, councils and chapters should include the Web address or a hyperlink to MOAA’s Legislative Update or the Take Action section of MOAA’s website in their print and e-newsletters and on their websites. Both the print and e-newsletter and website categories contain this important change, which is found in the objective judging criteria.

As members become more politically active, it’s easy to slip into partisan political discussions. In recent years, an increasing number of members have authored partisan editorials that have been published in their chapter’s print and e-newsletters or on their websites. Although many affiliates run a disclaimer, saying the editorial does not reflect the opinion of the chapter or its members, the damage is done. Existing members often leave the chapter and potential members refuse to join.

MOAA is a nonpartisan organization, and this stance should be reflected by its affiliates. Therefore, affiliates are asked to include an editorial policy statement in their print and e-newsletters and on their websites, indicating they are nonpartisan. Example: “The XYZ Newsletter is published by the XYZ Chapter/Council, which is an affiliate of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). MOAA and its affiliated chapters and councils are nonpartisan.”

If your affiliate accepts advertising, you also might want to add a sentence that says, “The advertisements that appear in this publication/website do not reflect an endorsement by MOAA or this affiliate.”

Visit MOAA’s website today so you can review and begin implementing the new judging criteria for the Col. Marvin J. Harris Communications Award Contest. To get more how-to information, read “Tips for Improving Your Newsletters, E-newsletters, and Websites.”