Fed 100 nominations: 5 things NOT to do
Every year, the questions fly regarding Federal 100 Award nominations. Who can nominate? (Anybody.) Who's eligible? (Any individual making an impact in the federal IT community.) When is the deadline? (Dec. 23 at Noon ET.) What makes for a strong submission? (See PV Puvvada's excellent recent advice, and FCW's own guidelines.)
Rarely, however, does anyone ask what not to do. Yet every year, there are nominations that elicit groans from the judges -- and almost instant dismissal. So in the interest of helping every nomination avoid such a fate, here are five pitfalls to avoid:
1. Don't nominate yourself
While there's no official prohibition on self-nominations, it rarely goes over well. If you're doing exceptional work, there should be others who will say so. Make sure they're aware that Fed 100 nominations are being accepted, or outright ask them to nominate you -- but don't pen the nomination yourself. The judges usually can tell.
2. Don't sound like the nominee's mother
It's wonderful that your nominee is always positive, never fails to offer assistance and has a smile for everyone from the agency head to the newest intern. It is not, however, sufficient for a Federal 100 award. Be specific about accomplishments and mission impact, and make the nominee's winning personality a bit of complementary color.
3. Don't leave this (solely) to your marketing team
Communications and marketing professionals can bring tremendous value to the nomination process. When the primary nominator is the VP of marketing, however, the result is often a better-written version of pitfall #1, above. Get a program manager, customer, supervisor or subject-matter expert so sign on. (If the nominee is actually from the comms or marketing department, of course, that's another matter.)
4. Don't "recruit" nominators without telling them
The Fed 100 judges are a knowledgeable and well-connected group. Most years it seems that for virtually every nomination, at least one judge has direct knowledge of the nominee or the project, or a close relationship with one of the nominators. So when judges ask a nominator for a bit of additional info, and the answer is, "What nomination?" … it's a problem. Even worse is when a judge discovers she or he is a supporting nominator only by reading the nomination. So by all means, assemble the best possible slate of nominators -- just be sure to clear it with them first!
5. Don't ignore the published nomination guidelines
There may not be a FAR-compliant scoring rubric for picking the Fed 100, but there are rules. Don't try to nominate a team or group for these individual awards. Don't make the case for a lifetime achievement award. And don't ignore the length limits -- 1,200 characters each for the three "essay questions" -- to jam a 5,000-word dossier into the nomination form. On that last point especially, our judges will thank you.
So please, submit nominations for every individual you think is worthy of a Fed 100. Just avoid the mistakes above to maximize the chance that our judges will agree!
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.
Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.
Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.
Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.