BL: What was your motivation for entering the 2012 Gold Quills?
ML: I used work in a large first class communications team. For the past few years I have been employed at a different company without communications professionals in-house with whom to collaborate. I thought the Quills would be a good way to check that my skills and approach are still relevant and appropriate in a rapidly changing industry. Also, in Australia, we can be somewhat parochial and isolated from the rest of the world. I thought that by winning a Quill I could demonstrate that we in Australia still cut it amongst the best of the best.
BL: What was the biggest challenge you faced with your entry?
ML: My submission was about the communications strategy for a very complex commercial transaction. My biggest challenge was expressing the essence of what we did in a way that anyone reading it could clearly understand. You never know who is going to be assessing your Quill submission. The judges could come from government, not for profits or business. There is no guarantee that the judges are familiar with conventional business terminology – so you need to prepare your work plan accordingly. The example of this that most clearly springs to mind was my replacement of a reference to "proxy solicitation" with "a telephone campaign" – but there were many such replacements made during the editing phase.
BL: What did you learn from participating in the Quill Award process?
ML: I learnt just how supportive and helpful the members and board of our local chapter are. I also learnt that – if you ask nicely – IT can pull up almost anything that has long been deleted off the computer network.
BL: Any tips or hints you would like to share with our members thinking about entering the 2013 awards?
ML: Make the most of the resources there to assist you through the process. Take a good look around the IABC website and do that early. Think about your Quill submission as you are undertaking the work. This will help you collate relevant work samples along the way and ensure all your objectives and measurements stack up. Attend the information sessions offered. The round table in October last year – a free IABC Vic community event – at which prior winners talked about the process was invaluable. Make use of the IABC Quills mentoring program but do also seek out other mentors to provide a differing perspective. The education chair or any board member of IABC Vic can steer you in the direction of an appropriate mentor if no-one immediately springs to mind. And finally – the biggest impediment to success is procrastination. I waited years before submitting an entry. I wish I hadn't. In the end I wrote the work plan in a day and managed to win a Quill on my first attempt – so stop "thinking about it" and just do it! It would be great to have more gold quills won by Australians in 2013.