We handed out the Gala Awards a week ago, and it was a great evening.
Some winners came prepared with an acceptance speech. Some weren't prepared at all. Some cried. And one winner—Yi-Ching Kao of The Precious Moment—thanked the audience in both English and Chinese.
Of course, the people onstage holding the trophies are not the whole Gala story. Each Gala category has three nominees, and the work of each nominee is just as thrilling.
I love the part of my job that involves congratulating winners and nominees, but at the same time, I hate the part that involves trying to explain to Gala entrants—some who ask politely and some who don't--why their work was not nominated.
And why aren't some great entries nominated? The answer is: Heaven only knows.
Outside of entries that make simple mistakes—the event fell outside the time frame, they plastered their name all over the entry—often I simply can't tell.
The Gala entries remind me of the church cookbook; people enter nothing but their best work. Gala entries are a swimming pool filled with cream. And Gala judges are people. Some judges respond to logistics challenges, some are wowed by décor excellence, some want to see something they have never seen before.
When entrants call me asking why their work didn't win or wasn't nominated, I have only one answer—and it's the truth: I can' tell them why, but their event could very well win coverage from Special Events. And that's because Gala entries are almost invariably clearly thought out, beautifully presented, strategic examples of great special events. Complete with photos.
Your Gala entry effort is never wasted. Many entrants tell me the entry process helps sharpen their thinking and prepares them to make more effective pitches and briefs going forward. Your entries often turn into editorial features and get international exposure.
And it's always a good idea to keep your hand in the Gala game … so that one day, you're the one onstage with the trophy.