Strategies for Crafting Standout Entries for CAPIO EPIC Awards


By Jalel Braden, Communications Specialist, San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association (SBCERA)

Awards Entry Deadline extended to March 11, 5 p.m.

As excitement builds for the 2024 CAPIO annual conference, communications professionals across the state are preparing for an event that not only offers networking opportunities and insightful educational sessions but also, the highly anticipated and coveted CAPIO EPIC Awards. The CAPIO EPIC Awards program recognizes the most creative and effective efforts in a variety of areas. It also provides a platform for public communicators to convene, celebrate, and applaud the hard work and creativity demonstrated across California. With the spotlight on exemplary achievements in public communications statewide, it’s important that your EPIC Award submissions are distinct and creative with a strong overview of the work you do.

Crafting standout entries requires a combination of creativity, clarity, and strategic storytelling. By aligning your submissions with the judging criteria, showcasing tangible results, and highlighting innovative approaches, you can elevate your chances of capturing the attention of the judges, and earning well-deserved recognition for your communication efforts. Behind every successful entry is a carefully constructed narrative that not only informs but inspires, leaving a lasting impression on both the judges and peers.

I have invited Olivia Applegate, who serves as the Director of Communications & Stakeholder Relations at SBCERA, to provide insights on improving your EPIC award submissions. Olivia is a two-time EPIC award winner and was named CAPIO’s 2022 Communicator of the year.  

 Q: How can communicators effectively showcase their successful work in their EPIC Award submissions?

A: While the whole package matters in your award submission, it’s most important to highlight the impact of your work. Think about how you can demonstrate the meaningful impact your project had to the people you serve, and you will be in a great spot.

Q: What are some key strategies you have used to craft standout entries?

A: It’s critical that you have solid information to support the four key areas: research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Whenever practical, begin working on this context and gathering it ahead of time. Every year, we wish we planned for these submissions earlier!

Q: What substantive changes did you make to your submissions after receiving the best in show versus an EPIC award?

A: SBCERA received an EPIC Award for our website redesign project in 2022, and I believe it was because of our solid data that told a story and the undeniable impact it had after going live. The before and after images didn’t hurt!  

Q: How important is data and measurable results in demonstrating successes for entries?

A: Data matters and can tell a powerful story. I’ve found that including data in the evaluation part of your submission goes a long way. Numbers are a clear and meaningful way to measure the impact of your project.

Q: What role does creativity play in developing compelling entries?

A: This is my favorite part about awards submissions. Being able to convey the importance of creativity within a project you’ve worked on is critical. For example, there are a ton of annual reports, communications plans, and beyond. How does yours stand out from the rest? How does it challenge the ‘status quo’? What make it unique?

Q: Do you have any additional feedback to share regarding your submission process?

A: Submit that entry! This is an opportunity to showcase the meaningful work you’ve spent your time, energy, and passion on. CAPIO has compiled a lot of great tips and information to reference for the EPIC Awards program and I encourage you to take advantage of it. Last but not least, plan ahead. You will thank yourself for not waiting until the crunch time and it will give you an opportunity to refine it as much as you need. Good luck and I’m rooting for you!

Crafting standout entries is not solely about recognition but it also serves as a testament to your dedication and excellence in public communications. Each submission is a celebration of the countless hours, creativity, and the passion you pour in your work. So, as you enhance your entries this year, in the years to come and beyond, remember— your contributions truly make a difference. Your stories matter, your efforts are valued, and your impact is undeniable, inspiring us all to strive to reach for greater heights as public communicators.

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