According to the ACCE website, ACCE’s Awards for Communications Excellence program is designed to showcase the top communications and marketing work of chambers of commerce and similar organizations. Several thousand award entries were submitted to the competition, which is now in its 37th year. These entries highlight some of the freshest and most innovative marketing and communications work coming from ACCE member organizations of all types and sizes.
“Chambers of commerce create community impact, more so now than ever before,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Chambers are natural conveners, telling stories that inspire and spur action. That creativity in communications, paired with catalytic leadership within their region, is what earned them this well-deserved recognition.”
Entries were organized by category — based on the chamber’s annual revenue — and entry type: campaigns, digital content, websites, and print and electronic publications.
Listed below are all of the GrowthZone partners who were winners (7 of 13!). We are so proud of all of you and wish you continued success!
Extra shoutout to South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Zionsville Chamber of Commerce who were named as Best in Show within their total annual revenue category. All recognition took place at ACCE’s annual convention in Indy during the July 27 Awards Show. To see the full list of winners, visit acce.org.
Award of Excellence Winners
Shop Near Home for the Holidays encouraged the Sandusky County, Ohio, community and visitors to shop local during the holiday season. Shoppers gained access to discounts at participating businesses by scanning codes online, in-store or on paper. Participating businesses also enjoyed brand awareness with links to their websites and social sites for future shopping. The campaign had over 2,700 QR code scans and over 87,000 impressions on the chamber’s social sites.
The “Why Join A Chamber” video, posted on social media and emailed to the Zionsville Chamber’s general membership and prospects, serves as a recruitment and retention tool to help people better understand the organization. The chamber’s social media reach went from 250,000 in 2019 to over 2.8 million by the end of 2021. According to the chamber, “We know that our use of video and our social media reach plays an important role in our community as an economic engine. Our chamber is small (500 members [and no dedicated communications department!]) but our social media reach makes us mighty! Videos like this allow us to quickly explain our impact, 24/7, to audiences in our region, bringing visibility to our membership through the platforms we utilize.”
The Mason Deerfield Chamber did not feel that its old website reflected its advocacy for a winning business community through unrivaled experiences. According to the chamber, the old website was hard to navigate, not mobile responsive and did not provide members or the community with the resources they needed. They spent considerable time researching other websites. Through this research, a common point of emphasis was a clean website with a lot of white space, the ability to be used on mobile and a navigation bar that actually spoke to what a visitor to the site was looking for. In the redesign, working with GrowthZone, every page of the old website was scratched. “Adding another non-dues revenue stream was a goal of the new website and it is exciting to see that already come to fruition in terms of dollars. Another goal was creating an ease of navigation and telling our story better. Both of these have been achieved in the redesign and I believe this has helped the chamber have the largest amount of members join in Q1 of 2022 in the past five years – and the quarter isn’t even over. Plus, it’s fully mobile responsive!”
The “Beyond the Line” print publication is a marketing piece for relocating families, longtime residents, tourists, business decision-makers and economic development professionals. It features articles written about famous Texarkanians, the area’s economic development, their regional healthcare hub, education excellence and general chamber information. Published twice a year (5,000 copies printed for each issue), the magazines are distributed throughout the community, surrounding states and the nation. The chamber describes the “Beyond the Line” magazine as “taking a deeper dive into our region than most directories. It’s more than just the ‘eat, stay, play,’ structure used by the majority of community guides. It gives the reader a true glimpse into what makes our town great.”
Without much prior involvement or focus in the travel and tourism industry, the South Shore Chamber stretched outside of its comfort zone and applied for a state pilot grant to promote regional recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19. The goal was to help local businesses increase their volume of business during the summer and expand their long-term market regionally. The Hello! South Shore project encouraged 600,000+ residents to think of “local” as more than their own neighborhood or town and promote broader exploration. This one-of-a-kind marketing campaign spotlighted discovery excursions across 25 cities and towns the chamber represents. To encourage all South Shore residents to get out and explore, two versions of excursions were curated outlined, and downloadable for ease of reference. The chamber highlighted over 120 places of interest and developed an online database of 450+ attractions. The chamber’s team achieved several “firsts” with this effort, including the first grant received by the chamber from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, the first time the chamber launched a multi-media travel and tourism concept campaign (in less than 6 weeks, too) and first chamber project where they reached nearly one million impressions in just 13 weeks.
The Remember Your Favorites campaign incentivized residents to dine at local restaurants to combat a lack of tourism revenue stemming from COVID-19, particularly a loss in business from visiting groups, meeting and conference attendees. The effort featured a restaurant pass rewarding passholders with prizes for checking into three, six or 10 participating restaurants during the duration of the campaign, April – June 2021. The campaign featured digital and print advertising to drive users to the pass download link, including graphics and videos created by the OneSpartanburg, Inc. team. It was featured in print editions of local publications, and the chamber’s team created a text and email strategy for the public at large and passholders based on check-in totals and prize redemptions. The restaurant pass proved successful, having been downloaded 1,003 times and utilized for 615 unique restaurant visits.
GRCA redesigned its website that more clearly outlined the mission and vision of the organization. As an entity that combines both economic development and traditional chamber activities, it was important to them to create a website that better highlighted their work. The new site, which features a 36% decrease in the number of pages, includes a stepped-member application form, an extensive event calendar that can be filtered by event type and a more robust overview of the economic, workforce and real estate development tools and programs GRCA offers. The site welcomed 14% more new users and hosted nearly 12% more sessions from the time it launched in August 2021, through the end of the year, compared to the same time in 2020. The site also saw a 15% increase in pageviews. This increase in traffic was all obtained organically. All new traffic was driven to the site through GRCA’s social media channels and email database. The GRCA communications and marketing team enlisted chamber member, Launch DM, for help with the design and original build of the website.