The SPN Communications Excellence Awards recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in marketing, communications, and media across the state think tank Network. Winners will receive a grant to pursue future projects, as well as a trophy to honor their effort and results. Grant prizes and trophies will be presented at a special reception at SPN’s 30th Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. SPN will highlight both the winners and the nominees to share their success stories and best practices across the Network.
2022 Award Information
Nominations have closed. Finalists will be announced on July 21. Thank you to all who nominated!
Project Criteria and Finalist Selection Process
Finalists are selected by a committee of SPN staff led by SPN’s Senior Director of Leadership Development and Strategic Communications, Meredith Turney. Nominations are judged based on the criteria for each award category. Nominations are also judged on impact, replicability, and how the project will position the nominated organization for future success.
For more insight into how finalists are selected, see our internal scoring guide.
Winners will be determined through a Network-wide vote. Network members, and members of the public will be eligible to vote. Organizations that effectively activate their own audiences are most likely to win. Winning organizations will receive a trophy, and a grant to further their own communications initiatives. Voting will take place between July 23 and August 5, 2022.
Bold Brand Boost Award
A powerful brand means your organization has a seat at the policy-making table. Citizens look to your organization for information and guidance on important policy issues. Lawmakers and media see you a trusted resource for quality research and information. This award recognizes the influence of a powerful brand boost.
Powerful Storytelling Award
Storytelling is the most fundamental element of communication. In marketing, storytelling can inform and persuade. An organization that tells powerful stories will boost its brand, spread the message of policy impact, and change public sentiment. This award recognizes the storytelling that truly impacted an organization’s brand image and policy impact.
Expanding Your Audience Award
No matter how just your cause, or how impeccable your research, none of what you say matters if it’s to an empty room. Only slightly more useful is talking to an echo chamber of the same audience again and again. After pouring through the nominations from our exceptional Network, it was clear a new category of award was needed for the folks who expanded the reach of their message to achieve new heights and build new coalitions. This award recognizes the organizations whose efforts led to expanded audiences and increased capacity and infrastructure for educating and mobilizing their states.
2021 Communications Excellence Award Recipients
Bold Brand Boost: Center of the American Experiment (Minnesota)
Center of the American Experiment’s “Think About It” campaign raised questions about current public policy topics and engaged hundreds of Minnesota citizens to connect with the Center and have their voice heard by state lawmakers.
Powerful Storytelling: Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy
The Institute collected stories from across the state to highlight the diversity in education needs, and to show the value that Education Savings Accounts (in the form of the Hope Scholarship) could bring to people’s lives. Their efforts helped bring education opportunity to 300,000 children in the Mountain State.
Expanding Audience: Commonwealth Foundation (Pennsylvania)
By highlighting the Pennsylvania governor’s violations of both liberty and equality over the past year, Commonwealth rallied both left-leaning and right-leaning audiences and eventually secured victory for two ballot initiatives to restore the balance of power between the governor and the Legislature during disaster emergencies.
2020 Award Recipients
Influential Marketing Campaign Award: Mackinac Center cartoon series calls out Michigan’s arbitrary lockdown rules
Driving the Media Narrative Award: Washington Policy Center exposes governor’s unscientific and misleading coronavirus dials
Creative Shoestring Budget Award: Pelican Institute’s Faces of the Shutdown
Powerful Storytelling Award: Commonwealth Foundation fights homelessness during the coronavirus
Frequently Asked Questions
What projects are elligible for the 2021 Communications Excellence Awards?
Projects and initiatives that took place from June 2021 through June 2022 will be eligible for the 2022 Communications Excellence Awards
Can I nominate my organization for more than one award?
Yes! You can nominate your organization for as many of the awards as you want.
Can I nominate my organization for the same award multiple times, for different projects?
Yes! As long as they’re distinguished as different projects in the nomination, you can nominate your organization for the same award as many times as you’d like.
Can I nominate non-state think tanks?
Nominees need to be state think tanks affiliated with SPN. But, projects that involved an affiliated state think tank and other organizations can also be considered for the awards.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email Meredith Turney.