IABC Gold Quill Awards (for Business Communication)

November 1, 2017

January 30, 2018


+1 415.544.4700

Awards Description

For more than 40 years, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards have recognized and awarded excellence in strategic communication worldwide. Gold Quill is the only awards program that honors the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a global scale.

Since 2008, more than 4,451 projects have been entered in the Gold Quill Awards.

While the style of the Gold Quill logo has changed through the years, the golden feather symbolizing a quill writing pen is a universal icon recognized throughout the industry.


Regardless of the final award results, the Gold Quill Awards program offers all entrants an array of benefits:

  • Gain international peer recognition for excellence in communication.
  • Profile industry innovation and best practices.
  • Open up speaking and publishing opportunities.
  • Build your personal reputation as a thought leader.
  • Enhance the reputation of your team and organization, both internally and externally.
  • Build a business case to fund a key initiative.
  • Inspire your team. Bring them together to produce show-stopping work and share the glory when it’s complete.
  • Challenge yourself to new heights of innovation, creativity and strategic thinking.
  • Build a portfolio of work that opens doors to new opportunities.
  • Get your submissions assessed and validated by highly qualified communicators from around the world.


All IABC Gold Quill Award entries are evaluated by international professional communicators with more than 10 years of experience. The majority of evaluators have earned Gold Quill Awards. Many are either IABC accredited or certified by the Global Communication Certification Council. And, all are trained to evaluate entries against established criteria aligned to IABC’s Global Standard of the communication profession.

Your entry is scored independently by two evaluators, who reconcile scores together at Blue Ribbon Panels held face-to-face in multiple locations around the world or virtually.

There are two types of Gold Quill Awards:

  • Awards of Merit, for entries that score 5.25 to 5.74 out of 7
  • Awards of Excellence, for entries that score above 5.75


  • Each winning entry receives a Gold Quill Award trophy.
  • Awards are presented to winners at the annual IABC Excellence Gala held during the IABC World Conference. This evening of celebration and recognition includes a networking reception, ceremony, dinner and dancing.
  • Select entrants with the highest-scoring entries are invited to present their program at the IABC World Conference.
  • Case studies of select winning entries are prepared and shared through IABC channels.
  • IABC announces winners with a news release, on iabc.com, and through social media.
  • IABC chapters and regions recognize Gold Quill Award winners in their areas.

DEADLINES (11:59 p.m. PST)

The 2018 Gold Quill Awards program will open in late September 2017. The 2018 deadlines are:

  • Early-bird deadline: 15 November 2017
  • Deadline: 10 January 2018
  • Late deadline: 30 January 2018

Winners are announced in April.


All eligible work must be implemented, published or broadcast between January 2015 and the day of submission. If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2015 and hasn’t previously been entered, it is eligible for entry. If you entered your work in 2016 or 2017 and didn’t win an award, you may revise and re-enter your project. Entries that have won in previous years may not be resubmitted.


Entrant Early-bird deadline Final deadline  Late deadline 
IABC members US$275 US$350  US$450
Non-member US$375 US$450  US$550
Student member US$25 US$40  US$50
Non-member students US$60 US$75  US$90

Entry fees in U.S. dollars

For information on the benefits of IABC membership, call IABC headquarters toll-free at 800.776.4222 or +1 415.544.4700 outside the U.S. and Canada, visit iabc.com, or contact member_relations@iabc.com

The Gold Quill Awards are divided into four divisions and 28 categories. You may enter more than one category with your entry; however, evaluators recommend that you tailor your entry to suit the specific requirements of each category.

Division 1: Communication Management

Division 2: Communication Research

Division 3: Communication Training and Education

Division 4: Communication Skills


The Communication Management division covers project, programs and campaigns that are guided by a communication strategy. Entries to this division can be submitted by any type of organization, from governments to retail companies to services such as utilities and health care. Entrants must demonstrate how their project applied a full range of planning and management skills, including research, analysis, strategy, tactical implementation and evaluation. Entries may include a wide range of communication materials. (A single tactical execution element that formed part of a communication program may also be entered in the Communication Skills division.)

  • Programs or strategies targeted at employee or member audiences
  • Includes programs that create awareness and influence opinion or behavioral change, including those focused on ethics, morale, internal culture or change management
  • May involve improving employee understanding and alignment with business direction, improving face-to-face communication, preparing employees for change, integration of organizational cultures caused by an acquisition or downsizing, an internal brand ambassador program or a program to inspire pride in the organization
  • Local, regional, national or international programs or strategies that profile the role of strategic communication as a driver in improving employee engagement
  • Entries must focus on the communication elements of these programs, which could include contribution to program development and promotion through various communication vehicles and channels
  • May include employee recognition and employee volunteer programs, including programs that benefit charitable or philanthropic causes, or that recognize employees’ organizational contributions or achievements in the organization
  • Programs or strategies targeted at internal audiences that relate to communication of health and welfare, savings and pension, stocks and compensation, or recruitment and retention initiatives
  • Communication strategies that support organizational change
  • May be directed at internal or external audiences, or both
  • Programs or strategies that focus on improving awareness, understanding and behaviors related to safety issues within an organization
  • Programs or strategies that help leaders become more effective communicators, improve the quality of leadership communication within an organization, or improve leader knowledge and the ability to use communication as a business driver
  • Tactics may include tool kits with speaking notes, games or other tools that help leaders communicate a specific topic, and special publications with information and support for leadership communication
  • May include various activities designed to sell products, services, destinations, organizations or ideas to external audiences, and is generally delivered through a variety of communication vehicles and channels
  • Strategies for new brands and the repositioning of existing brands in relationship to internal and external audiences
  • May include brand characteristics and attributes, changes to corporate identities and design solutions that address the challenges of brand communication (must be more than a logo redesign)
  • Strategic advertising campaigns designed to build brand awareness, influence opinion, motivate audience behaviors, or sell products and service
  • Strategies or ongoing programs targeted at customer audiences that educate, inform, engage or otherwise connect the organization and its employees to the customer
  • Programs may influence reputation, brand awareness and loyalty, and market position
  • May include relationship management, experience standards or appreciation programs, but must be focused on communication and marketing elements
  • Strategies or ongoing programs that use the news media as the primary channel to reach target audiences and seek to influence awareness, understanding and opinion or motivate action
  • Should demonstrate the quality of media coverage and its impact on the organization—quantity of media stories alone is not considered a valid measurement in this category
  • A one-time or an ongoing program that enhances stakeholder understanding of issues affecting business operations within the community served
  • Seeks to build trust and credibility with stakeholder groups generally through consultation and other communication-based activities
  • Tactics and supporting strategies may include formal and informal meetings, town hall discussions, workshops, presentations, open houses, and electronic or printed material
  • Short- or long-term programs that influence the opinion or actions of government bodies or agencies
  • May seek to create awareness, or influence the attitudes and behaviors of decision-makers toward the organization or industry
  • Entails strategies, tactics and tools used to share financial data and recommendations with investors and other interested parties
  • Includes investor relations functions that integrate finance, communication, marketing and securities laws compliance to enable effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and stakeholders
  • Programs targeted at external and/or internal audiences that address trends, issues or attitudes that have a significant impact on an organization, such as labor relations, crises, mergers, acquisitions, public policy or environmental concerns
  • Programs may demonstrate proactive planning and preventative action during an extraordinary event, or show the actions taken to address trends, issues and interest group attitudes that have a major impact on an organization
  • Programs or strategies that communicate social responsibility and encourage positive actions while building awareness and reputation and positioning the organization as a good corporate citizen
  • May be targeted to multiple audiences and influence share price and customer loyalty, retention and recruitment, operational efficiency and increased sales
  • Generally long-term and focused on enhancing the well-being of communities and populations through causes such as the environment, energy sustainability, food safety, economic stability, employment, poverty reduction, literacy, education, health, cultural preservation, and indigenous and heritage protection
  • Engages internal and external audiences in conversation through social media
  • Encompasses tools and practices that allow individuals and groups to collaborate and share knowledge and experiences online
  • May use conversation-enabled publishing platforms such as blogs and podcasts, social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, democratized content networks such as wikis and message boards, content-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr, and virtual networking platforms
  • Programs and strategies specific to government organizations at the municipal, state, provincial, regional, federal, national or international level
  • May be targeted to one or more audiences, and include internal, external or integrated communication strategies or programs
  • Programs recognizing the particular challenges of the nonprofit sector
  • May include multiple internal or external audiences
  • Promotes nonprofit organizations or causes
  • May be paid projects or pro-bono projects donated to the client by an organization, agency or consultancy; entries will generally have a small budget or none at all.
  • Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.



Entries in this division recognize the importance of research and measurement as a foundation for strategic communication work and a competency that’s integral to success throughout the career of a communication professional. A clear understanding of why the research was needed demonstrates its strategic value to an organization.

  • Formative research conducted during the initial stages of the strategic communication planning process that benchmarks internal audience opinions or behaviors, profiles the marketplace or internal communication environment in which the organization operates, aligns best practices against organizational needs or informs strategic direction for internal communication programs
  • May include audience analysis, competitive benchmarking, secondary research related to best practices, program or product test markets, and reputation or brand studies
  • Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.



This division recognizes the mentorship and education role of consultants and communicators in developing and delivering workshops, classes, seminars or training that educates an audience about any aspect of the communication profession. This division includes all communication disciplines and professional competencies. Communication training and education has the potential to enhance the value of the communication function, profession, or discipline. Entries in this division must demonstrate:

  • Alignment of learning outcomes to goals and objectives
  • Alignment of assessments to specific learning outcomes
  • Theories and practices of educational excellence
  • Impact outside the classroom
  • Training or educational programs delivered to an internal or external audience that help to improve their communication competencies
  • For internal audiences, this may include supervisor/manager/leader training in communication skills, presentation skills and employee ambassador development, in addition to media training, speaker’s bureau training, and other communication disciplines
  • For external audiences, this may include presentations for conferences, university classes, seminars or workshops, as well as media and executive coaching
  • Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.



The communication skills division includes marketing and communication elements that showcase technical skills such as editing, writing, design and multimedia production. Entries in this division are generally tactical in nature. Entrants must demonstrate strategic alignment, the creative process and measurable results.

  • Planning and execution of a special event for an internal or external audience
  • For internal audiences, this may include employee appreciation events, or events that mark a significant occasion such as an anniversary, internal conference or meeting, or a celebration or special retirement
  • For external audiences, this may include conferences, workshops, anniversaries, official openings, product launches, road shows and customer events.
  • Computer-based communication vehicles defined as the end product that are produced for internal or external audiences, and rely on a digital communication channel for delivery
  • Electronic and interactive communication channels such as websites, intranets, online stores, blogs, podcasts, social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, democratized content networks such as wikis and message boards, micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, content-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr, and virtual networking platforms
  • May also include electronic newsletters, electronic annual reports, special publications, CDs or DVDs, e-cards, banner ads, buttons, pop-ups and similar material
  • Generally one-way communication that offers published content online
Category 25: AUDIO/VISUAL
  • Communication vehicles produced using sound, images, video, film, slides, CDs or a combination of these elements
  • May include video, audio, PowerPoint or other presentations, and films Does not include advertising commercials
  • Publications produced for internal or external audiences in all formats, including hard copy and electronic
  • May include magazines, newspapers, newsletters or tabloids, annual reports, books, special publications, brochures and other advertising material, e-newsletters, and similar material
Category 27: WRITING

This category includes writing in both print and electronic formats:


  • Material in which the news media is the primary communication channel
  • May include, but is not limited to, editorials, interpretive/expository articles, news releases, and feature stories


  • Material written primarily for use by an organization to inform or educate employees or external stakeholders
  • May include recurring features or columns, magazines, newsletters, internal or special publications, stand-alone features, speeches and presentations, executive correspondence, scripts for corporate use, writing for an intranet, internal publications, technical writing, and annual and special reports


  • Material written to persuade customers, consumers, employees or stakeholders to adopt a point of view or to purchase goods or services
  • May include commercials, advertising, marketing or sales promotion material, advertorials and writing for the Web


  • Material written to promote nonprofit organizations, including IABC regional and chapter events


  • Books (fiction and nonfiction), educational material, scripts for theatrical use, and other writing projects not covered above
  • Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student

Please follow these guidelines as you compile your Gold Quill Awards entry.


All eligible work must be implemented, published or broadcast between January 2015 and the day of submission. If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2015 and hasn’t previously been entered, it is eligible for entry. If you entered your work in 2016 or 2017 and didn’t win an award, you may revise and re-enter your project. Entries that have won in previous years may not be resubmitted.


  • Choose from four divisions and 28 categories.
  • Trained evaluators will review your entry and provide you with solid feedback.
  • You may enter multiple categories within one division or across divisions.
  • Evaluation is based on IABC’s Global Seven-point Scale of Excellence for strategic planning and execution.
  • Scores for Communication Management, Communication Research, and Communication Training and Education entries are based equally on the work plan and the work sample.
  • For entries in Communication Skills, the score is based on the work sample’s creativity, professional execution and alignment.
  • For student entries, 35 percent of the score is based on the work plan and 65 percent on the work sample.
  • Entry scores for awards:
    • Award of Merit: 5.25 to 5.74 out of 7
    • Award of Excellence: 5.75 and above


You must upload your entry and pay the registration fee before the deadline noted. Full payment must be received for all entries you submit before or on the closing date to be eligible for evaluation.

Work plans for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 are limited to four pages using a font size no smaller than 10-point and margins no less than 0.5 inch (1.27 cm). A template is available here.

For Division 4, Communication Skills, you will need to submit a brief entry form on the awards entry website. A preview of the online entry form is available here.

Work done for IABC at the international level is not eligible for this program.

Entries may be disqualified if:

  • The work plan exceeds four pages.
  • Any element of the project violates the IABC Code of Ethics.
  • It is obvious the entrant did not play a role in the project.
  • The entry depends mainly on syndicated, borrowed, reprinted or stock material.
  • If the electronic files contain viruses, if they disable or require disabling of any part of the computer system used during evaluation, or if evaluators cannot view work samples using the instructions provided.

If you are a consultant and your work was done for a client, you must include client permission for your entry, or it may be disqualified.


A student or a group of students may submit entries. At the time the work was created, the student must have been attending school full time or part time, working toward a degree at a college, university or other educational institution. Entrants who were enrolled as a student but have professional communication experience or are employed in the communication profession must submit their entry as a professional member or non-member.

Work produced for educational courses, a club or volunteer association, an internship, or commercial and non-commercial activities, including work for an IABC chapter or region, is eligible for submission.

If the assignment was not fully implemented, please make note of this to the evaluators. It will not disadvantage your entry, however you must show how the program would have been evaluated, had it been implemented in practice.

Professors, lecturers or advisers may not enter on behalf of a student.

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