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Northern Lights Contest

The Northern Lights Awards contest recognizes outstanding work in Minnesota's government, educational and nonprofit communications, and provides valuable feedback for all entries from the communications professionals who judge the contest. The contest is conducted annually by the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators. 

The contest will remain open for entries until Friday, March 2 Friday, March 9 (note extended deadline!). 

New in 2018

Projects completed or published  between January 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018, are eligible for this year's contest. We have clarified and extended the entry period at the suggestion of a number of MAGC members who expressed that it can be difficult to submit a January or February project a full year or more after completing it.

We're sharing judging duties with TAMIO, a peer organization in Texas. TAMIO is a nationally recognized government communications group. We've worked out an arrangement to judge TAMIO entries while they judge and score MAGC entries. This will help ensure objectivity in judging, and will give members of both groups an opportunity to see what's being done in another part of the country.

All entries will be submitted in electronic format, typically as a PDF, image or video file, or URL that points to the entry. In previous years, certain categories required hard copy samples of printed pieces to be submitted. This change was made facilitate sharing our entries with TAMIO's judges. 

Dates and Links

February 2 Contest Opens for Entries
March 9 Entry Deadline, 8 p.m. (deadline extended)
May 17 Awards Ceremony
   
Contest Links... Contest Categories

Contest Rules 
  How to Enter
  Start or Edit an Entry
  Information about Judging

A Northern Lights Award trophy

The Awards

Northern Lights Award (First Place)

The first-place Northern Lights Award is granted to the one entry in each category that stands out from all others as representing the very best in government communications. This award honors an entry whose quality has wowed the judges—exceeding expectations, accomplishing intended goals, demonstrating creativity and making excellent use of available resources.

One Northern Lights Award may be granted in each category, except in the case of a tie score (each organization with a tie score would receive an award). If no entry receives the minimum score required for the Northern Lights Award, the award will not be granted.

Silver Award (Second Place)

Like the Northern Lights Award, the second-place Silver Award honors work that represents government communications at the highest standards. This award is granted to a superbly executed entry that accomplishes its goals with creativity and outstanding design and makes excellent use of available resources.

One Silver Award may be granted in each category, except in the case of a tie score. If no entry receives the minimum score required for the Silver Award, the award will not be granted.

Bronze Award (Third Place)

The third-place Bronze Award likewise honors an entry that that shows distinction in all aspects, accomplishes its goals with creativity and outstanding design and makes excellent use of available resources.

One Bronze Award may be granted in each category, except in the case of a tie score. If no entry receives the minimum score required for the Bronze Award, the award will not be granted.

Award of Merit (Honorable Mention)

The Award of Merit honors entries that receive a high score from the judges, when other (higher-scoring) entries have been awarded the category's Northern Lights, Silver and Bronze awards.

Any number of Awards of Merit may be given out in a category so long as each has received a qualifying score.

Best for Least

This category honors great communications done at a remarkably low cost. Only one entry receives the Best for Least award, except in the case of a tie score.

Best of Show

The Best of Show award is given to the one entry that best demonstrates effective government communications. The winner is chosen by the Best of Show judging panel (convened by the MAGC board) from among the year's Northern Lights Award winners, taking into account the recommendations of the contest judges.

Special Achievement Awards

Communicator of the Year Award

An individual may be honored with MAGC's Communicator of the Year Award at the discretion of the MAGC board. The award may not be given every year. Nominations for this award are encouraged. A nomination form is made available each year by the end of February.

Lifetime Achievement Award

An individual may be honored with MAGC's Lifetime Achievement Award at the discretion of the MAGC board. The award may not be given every year. Nominations for this award are encouraged. A nomination form is made available each year by the end of February.

Contest FAQs 

Can I submit the same project in multiple categories?

Yes. If your entry fits into more than one category, feel free to enter it more than once. You will need to pay the entry fee for each entry.

I am a member. Can a nonmember coworker submit a project for me and still receive my member rate?

Yes. Tell them to use your membership info to get the discounted member rate for entries.

How do I pay? How do I get the member rate?

The entry process allows you to begin on one or more entries while the contest is open, paying for the entries all at once. Members will be able to select the member rate for all the entries in their cart.

Not a member? Join or renew now so you can enter the contest at the member rate. 

I'm a MACTA member. How do I get the member rate?

You will have an opportunity to attest that you are an active MACTA member. This will allow you to receive the member discount rate for video submissions.

(We'd love it if you were to join MAGC, and at $85 per year, it's a bargain!)

Can I pay for multiple entries all at once?

Yes. This is a welcome feature of the contest entry system we are using in 2018. 

If we win, can we order extra copies of our trophy?

Yes. A form will be made available soon after the awards ceremony in May for ordering duplicate trophies from this year's contest. The cost of the duplicate awards will be noted on the order form. Pricing is based on the cost of the trophy plus the cost of shipping it to you.

MACTA: Contest Partner and Video Awards Sponsor

The Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators is the sponsor for the video portion of this year's Northern Lights Awards.

MACTA is a statewide professional organization of city representatives and staff that, among other priorities, promotes and supports government uses of cable television, including community programming.

Since 2015, MAGC and MACTA have joined hands in the Northern Lights Awards contest. This partnership is of great benefit to MAGC and to the Northern Lights awards, improving and fostering the continued growth of the contest.

MACTA offers assistance with our event planning, helps in the recruiting of quality judges and helps promote the contest. In turn, MACTA is the title sponsor of the video portion of the awards and MACTA members enter the contest at MAGC member pricing.