You've come a long way, baby is an expression I've always hated. But when it comes to Pensions & Investments' Eddy Awards, scheduled to be presented March 3, it's true.
From the beginning, our awards to recognize the best practices in defined contribution investment education had the catchy name, Pensions & Investments' Defined Contribution Investment Education Awards.
After years of tripping over the name almost every time I had to recite it, we held a contest among staffers to come up with a new name. The winner was The Eddy Awards, as a play on words for education. Get it?
Actually, many people don't get it and have suggested alternatives. My favorite, from Bruce Lasko at Avaya Inc., is The Webbies. Get it? It's a play on words on my last name.
OK, I'm moving on.
As sponsor of the Eddys, we at P&I have seen a lot and learned a lot.
When we announced our first Eddy Awards winners in 1995, the first-place video turned out to be a generic one by the provider. We were so naïve we didn't realize it. The awards were solely for plan sponsors, not their vendors, and were supposed to be customized. We stated that in the rules, yet we didn't recognize a generic video when we saw it.
In the early years, the quality and quantity of videos entered was awesome. Companies spent big bucks to create their own version of Siskel & Ebert (now Ebert & Roeper), or a science fiction movie, or a spoof featuring the CEO playing dodge ball with shopping carts in a parking lot.
After a few years, hardly any videos were entered. After a few years the number video entries dwindled significantly. Plan executives told me they were too expensive and didn't produce the results they sought. Videos were replaced by new media forms of education and communication. The best ones are highly interactive and entertaining.
Another evolution has been a deepening of the judges' involvement. Over the past several years, the judges have added new categories, created judging criteria for those categories, and moved entries around when they thought an entry would fit better in a different category. They also have addedcriteria to existing judging forms and changed the point system in some cases.
One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the time commitment of the judges.
These DC plan professionals most of them plan sponsors give up two days of their lives to sit in a windowless conference room and judge mountains of entries. And we don't even pay their expenses, although we do feed them often, and well.
The single biggest change to The Eddy Awards occurred in the past year, when we added a separate competition for service providers.
We created the new awards in response to repeated requests from vendors. They told us they were finding it increasingly difficult to get their clients to enter, and if we had service provider awards, vendors could enter their work on behalf of these reticent plan executives. They also said they had some good generic investment education programs that didn't fit into the plan sponsor Eddy Awards, which don't accept generic materials.
What's next for the Eddy Awards? You tell me. Please let me know your thoughts by calling 312-649-5284 or e-mailing me at [email protected].