The Bell Awards: REAL Recognition

By: Katherine Walls, Bell Awards Committee Member,
In December, the Business Marketing Association (BMA) Milwaukee Chapter announced the new vision for its annual awards show – the Bell Awards.  Dubbed REAL*, this year’s theme promises REAL changes to make the awards more engaging and meaningful. 


Getting REAL
It all started when, for the first time, BMA Milwaukee invited two focus groups to share their candid thoughts on entering awards shows. There was no shortage of thoughts, and the feedback helped the committee learn ways in which the awards process needed to “get real.” The ensuing strategy strived to address these perceptions head on in an effort to engage more local clients and agencies, collect more competitive entries, and extend the competition from a one-night event into an engaging and valuable four-month experience. 
This week, the Bell Awards’ closed its submission period. Hundreds of entries were received in more than 40 categories.  “It’s so exciting every year to see original work pour in from the marketing community.  I love seeing so many creative approaches to solving real business challenges,” said Siobhan Marks, Chair of the Bell Awards committee. 
Proving that this event is not just a beauty contest, each entry was accompanied by detailed criteria upon which to evaluate the work.  Submitters were asked to describe the selling proposition and objectives, target audience, strategy and results along with an example of the work.   

Examining the Entries
Next, each entry will be reviewed by an impartial panel of judges.  Judges this year hail from around the country and bring depth of experience in branding, public relations, advertising and social media.  Judges include Mike Aabram, head of the Corporate Reputation Management practice of Edelman, a global public relations firm; Rebecca Adler Greenwell, Marketing Manager at Intermap Technologies, a technology firm based in Denver; and John Favalo, Managing Partner at Eric Mower and Associates a full service agency in New York; among many others.
Meanwhile, while the judges are busy examining all the entries for creativity and results, you too can be putting on your judging hat. This year, the People’s Choice Award will be voted for online at Entries are viewable today and voting is integrated through Facebook –to insure each voter gets only one vote. While we encourage voting early, voting often is not an option.

Celebrating our Industry’s Best
The competition culminates on Thursday, April 14th when hundreds of professionals will gather at Potawatomi Bingo & Casino to celebrate this year’s best in B2B marketing at an awards dinner.  Those in the room will leave reinvigorated and inspired by the accomplishments of their peers.  Plan to be there, details for registration will be available on the website soon. If you’re interested in sponsoring this pinnacle event, please email Sabrina at
We’re looking forward to seeing the best of the best revealed on April 14th. Will it be your entry? We’ll just have to wait and see!

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