Digital contest will improve KPA's AOE efficiency

Posted December 27, 2011

The new Awards of Excellence entry process this year may require some additional time, so Kansas Press Association members should give some thought to beginning to electronically uploading entries now.

"It's not that the process is more difficult, it just represents a change from the past," said Doug Anstaett, KPA executive director, "so we encourage newspaper staff members to start now."

The new format allows for writing, design, photography and advertising be judged electronically, allowing for more efficiency in the judging process.

Mary Karst, advertising director for the Hays Daily News, has used the new system, and she is impressed.

She said it’s ease of use eliminates some of the problems her newspaper has experienced in the past.

“Wow! How easy! I really like the new electronic submission format for the contest,” she said. “No more searching for a paper copy that has the perfect color reproduction, no more paper ballots to fill in.

“Just simply fill in the blanks and upload the page with the ad on it and you are good to go. I am looking forward to being able to upload pages throughout the year and then choosing the best to enter when the contest comes around.”

Emily Bradbury, KPA’s member services director, has produced two videos to explain the process to members. They only take a few minutes to watch and really describe the program well.

Those videos can be watched by pasting the following URL into your browser:

“Because the new process requires changes in the way newspaper staff members process their entries in the contest, we really encourage members to begin this process as soon as possible,” said Doug Anstaett, executive director.

Bradbury said the move by KPA follows the lead of more than 20 other state press associations to this format. Other states using the SmallTownPapers online contest format include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland/Delaware/D.C., Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

KPA also will award separate news and advertising sweepstakes awards this year in each circulation category.

Bradbury also has prepared answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the online contest. They can be found in the November Kansas Publisher at

“Change is not always popular, but the feedback we’ve received from other states indicates the process is quite efficient, and newspaper staff members really like it,” Bradbury said. “We will work with any newspaper that needs assistance because we want this new system to encourage more entries in our contest. That’s been the experience for many other states.”

The entry form and information is attached to today’s Kansas Press This Week.

“This program allows the newspaper to upload numerous potential entries and then decide later which to actually enter in the contest. The publisher can decide which entries to ‘enable’ or ‘disable’ closer to the deadline. No more last-minute searches for tearsheets,” she said.

Karst said she’s looking forward to improvements in the new system as members all get a chance to use it.

“The only improvement I think I would make is to have the software show thumbnails of the pages so at a glance you could choose the ads without needing to open each one to take a look at it,” she said. “Maybe that will come, until then this is a really great way to enter the contest.”