By: Nell McCauley, SEDC

Please join us as we celebrate thirty years of the Council of Rural Electric Communicators’ awards program, which recognizes outstanding work produced by electric co-op communications and marketing professionals across the country. The categories reflect the wide scope and valuable contributions of co-op communicators today.

This is 30 years of memories of celebrating electric co-op communication and marketing excellence from all across the country. The first year there were 15 categories, 315 entries and 98 awards of excellence and merit. Thirty years later, there were 16 categories, 770 entries, 47 Gold awards, and 67 Silver awards.

And don’t forget we also have the 30th Edgar F. Chesnutt Award for Best Total Communication Program, which honors the best of the best. This award is presented to the co-op whose entry receives the highest score from three judges who are professors at nationally accredited universities or communication and marketing professionals in the private sector. Ed Chesnutt was an early statewide communicator from Arkansas who set the bar for cooperative communications. The first winner of the Chesnutt award was Dot Remington of Seminole EC, Tampa, Fla., for a “Heat Rate Awareness Campaign."

To celebrate, we’re asking past winners, particularly the early years from 1988-1998, to share their Spotlight experience. The photos will be shared at CONNECT ’18 and will showcase the old member services and communications conference (1976-1991); the marketing, member services and communications conference (1992 -2204); and the CONNECT conference, which debuted in 2005.

It will be fun to see how accomplishments were presented over the years as communications technology changed from print to digital. We are asking you to share the past and help us explore how we have documented Spotlight accomplishments in the newspapers, cooperative newsletters, and social media. So go find your old newspaper photos with winners and their awards, dig out those dusty prints, and scan and upload them to our special Spotlight Dropbox folder. The people in the pictures don’t have to still be at the cooperative, and the cooperative doesn’t have to exist as it did then to be included.

Also, if you have photos of your old offices or obsolete equipment from back in the day we’d love to see those, too. If you still have a typesetting machine in the warehouse, an old Apple IIc Plus stuffed in a closet, or an unused darkroom tucked away in a corner, take some photos and share them with us! Everyone who submits a photo will be entered into a drawing for Amazon gift card.

A part of our celebration of the Spotlight on Excellence Awards this year is to recognize how cooperative communicators jobs have changed dramatically, and the importance of communications is still as important, if not more so than ever.

A Dropbox account has been set up for communicators to upload photos