Insight from TABPI Founder and President Paul J. Heney
Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved in creating or running perhaps a dozen different awards programs. These have ranged from established programs, like ASBPE’s popular Azbees awards, to new corporate recognition programs, including one at my first publishing employer, Penton Media. Additionally, I’ve administered competitions in various fields, such as engineering and R&D.
We created the Tabbies nearly two decades ago because there was nothing remotely like it in the world of b2b journalism. There were a few country-specific programs for b2b publications, but nothing that was local to global in scope. What’s more, many countries only had a broad magazine awards-type program in which most of the focus was on consumer publications. For publications that considered themselves b2b, trade, association, or regional business — there was at times only one or two categories where they could find a fit.
In speaking with editors and designers from around the world, we learned that several features are critical to b2b publications awards programs, and we made sure that the Tabbies competition took these into account:
- Judging. These b2b professionals want to be judged by their peers. We’ve heard repeatedly about the need for judges who work in the trade press — because they know how unique our jobs are relative to consumer media and newspapers. For example, we can struggle with poor photography, art budgets, or ad-edit ratios. We’ve kept that need in mind each year as we assemble our judges from across the globe.
- Categories. They want categories that make sense. Far from having one category assigned to b2b publications, all 16 of our categories for the 2022 season are suited to this platform. From Department to Special Section to Opening Page or Spread, these categories all share a focus on editorial excellence in the world of b2b journalism.
- Fairness. When evaluating entries, our judges are instructed to be fair. They must take circulation or readership into account, along with the industry being served. It’s easy for consumer publications with virtually unlimited budgets (or focuses on fashion or celebrities) to produce visually appealing content, but this is a far greater challenge for small staffs covering the world of concrete or accounting or underground mining. Our judges understand this and consider each specific picture in judging submissions.
- Recognition. This is so important to employees. From the gorgeous, engraved awards that our Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners in each category receive to the Honorable Mention certificates that we mail out, we’re all about recognizing both individual and team efforts. We post PDFs or jpegs of the winning entries on our website and encourage winners to share their achievements on social media. And while winning is certainly a great achievement, the very act of being nominated by a chief editor tells employees that their work, efforts, and accomplishments are celebrated internally. This builds team morale that resonates throughout a publication.
What’s been most fulfilling over these two decades of the Tabbies competition has been seeing outstanding journalism throughout the world. In every niche industry, dedicated editors and designers are passionately covering the news, technology, people, companies, and issues that are important to their readers. And at a time when it feels like so much of journalism is under siege or being minimized, what a wonderful thing it is to celebrate those who are serving readers and making a difference.
So, bottom line, what are the benefits to those recognized by the international b2b Tabbie Awards? The attention of peers, readers, and advertisers, for one. We’ve heard from countless Tabbie Awards entrants worldwide who have garnered solid business leads and partnerships. Our program also strengthens your brand image internationally and draws publicity across all social channels.
I hope that your staff will consider entering some of your best editorial and design work from the past year in the 2022 Tabbies. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 13th. Submit at this link.