The IABC Silver Leaf Awards reward strategic thinking and creative execution for excellence in communication, advertising, marketing, photography and graphic design in Canada.
Distinguish your work in four divisions:
- Communication Research Management
- Communication Management
- Communication Training and Education
- Communication Skills
Each entry will be judged by a team of qualified IABC evaluators.
Entries in this division recognize the importance of research and measurement as a foundation for all strategic communication work, and that this competency is integral to success throughout the career path of a communication professional.
Category 1: Internal Communication Research
- Formative research during the initial stages of the strategic communication planning process that benchmarks employee or other internal stakeholder attitudes or opinions, and informs strategic direction for internal communication programs, projects or tactics.
- May include primary and/or secondary research, focus groups, communication or culture audits, and communication benchmarks in employee engagement, leadership communication or research that leads to process or structural changes within the communication unit or broader organization.
Category 2: Internal Communication Measurement
- Research that measures the impact of internal communication programs, strategies, vehicles or channels on audience groups and business needs.
- May include measurement of the effectiveness of internal communication strategies, programs, channels or vehicles, through communication dashboards, or through readership, viewership, knowledge, or benefits and compensation surveys.
Category 3: External Communication Research
- Formative research during the initial stages of the strategic communication planning process that benchmarks external audience opinions or behaviours, profiles the marketplace or external communication environment in which the organization operates, aligns best practices against organizational needs, and informs strategic direction for external communication programs.
- May include audience analysis, competitive benchmarking, secondary research related to best practices, program or product test markets, and reputation or brand studies.
Category 4: External Communication Measurement
- Research that measures the impact of external communication programs, strategies, vehicles and channels against audience and business needs, including print, broadcast, social media or other external marketing activities such as trade conferences, special events and charitable activities, either for a campaign or ongoing program that addresses business needs.
Category 5: Research Innovation
- Innovative research programs or tools that may combine research methodologies to overcome survey/research fatigue; engage hard-to-reach participants; demonstrate inspired uses of qualitative methods, sampling methods or question/questionnaire design; or other innovative ways of addressing the research purposes identified.
- May include formative internal and/or external research including but not limited to consumer, media, attitudinal or online research, or measure the impact of communication on business results in terms of cost, efficiencies, share price, brand value or sales.
Category 6: Communication Research Management, Student Entry
- Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.
This division focuses on strategic communication planning and execution of internal and external programs, and includes entries that combine communication disciplines for internal and external audiences.
Category 7: Internal Communication
- Programs or strategies targeted at employee or member audiences.
- Includes programs that create awareness and influence opinion or behavioural 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.
Category 8: Employee Engagement
- 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.
- Can be local, regional, national or international in scope.
Category 9: Leadership Communication
- Strategies that help leaders become more effective communicators, improve the quality of leadership communication within an organization, and improve leader knowledge and 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.
Category 10: Safety Communication
- Programs or strategies that focus on improving awareness, understanding and behaviours related to safety issues within an organization.
Category 11: Human Resources and Benefits Communication
- 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.
Category 12: Change Communication
- Communication strategies that support organizational change.
- May be directed at internal or external audiences or both.
Category 13: Government Relations
- Short or long-term programs that influence the opinion or actions of government bodies or agencies.
- May seek to create awareness, or influence attitudes and behaviours toward the organization or industry among decision-makers.
Category 14: Community Relations
- A one-time or 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 and printed material.
Category 15: Media Relations
- Strategies or ongoing programs that use the news media as the primary channel for reaching target audiences, and that seek to influence opinion or motivate action to support business needs.
- Should demonstrate quality of media coverage and its impact on the organization; quantity of media stories alone is not considered a valid measurement in this category.
- Strategies may support consumer products or services, business-to-business efforts, associations or non-profit groups, government relations activities or other initiatives important to the business.
Category 16: Customer Relations
- Strategies or ongoing programs targeted at customer audiences that educate, inform, engage or otherwise connect the organization and its employees to the customer.
- These programs influence reputation, brand awareness and loyalty, and market position.
- May include relationship management, experience standards or appreciation programs; however, the program must be focused on communication elements.
Category 17: Advertising Campaigns
- Strategic advertising campaigns designed to build brand awareness, influence opinion, motivate audience behaviours, or sell products and services.
- Generally short-term in nature and may use a variety of communication vehicles and channels such as radio and television commercials, newspaper and magazine ad, flyers, brochures, the Internet, email, social media, outdoor, transit or mall advertising, posters, street teams and guerilla marketing tactics.
Category 18: Marketing Communication
- Marketing is defined as the systematic planning, implementation and control of a variety of business activities intended to bring buyers and sellers together.
- May include various activities designed to sell products, services, destinations or ideas to external audiences, and is generally delivered through a variety of communication vehicles and channels.
- Broader than advertising campaigns, although advertising is often an element of a marketing program.
Category 19: Corporate Social Responsibility
- 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 and health, cultural preservation, and indigenous and heritage protection.
Category 20: Advocacy Communication
- Advocacy communication seeks to influence the attitudes and opinions of audiences toward an issue, cause, point of view, or organization that in turn can sway government decisions or regulations.
- Generally long-term, these programs may use a variety of communication vehicles and channels designed to raise awareness, create understanding, influence opinion, create buy-in and motivate change that positively impacts the organization or the issue.
Category 21: International Communication
- Long and short-term programs or strategies targeted at international audiences, including multinational consumers, international organizations, or global issues or trends.
- May include communication work and undertaken by multinational bodies to influence audience opinion and action.
Category 22: Issues Management and Crisis Communication
- Programs targeted at external and/or internal audiences that address trends, issues and/or attitudes that have a significant impact on an organization, such as labour 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.
Category 22 B: COVID-19 Response & Recovery Management and Communication
- COVID-19 related programs targeted at external and/or internal audiences that address crisis, business continuity, or issues or attitudes that have a significant impact on an organization, such as shuttering/re-opening businesses, furlough/layoff staff, redesigning business operations.
- Programs may demonstrate both proactive planning and preventative action during the pandemic and/or show the actions taken to address trends, issues and interest group attitudes that have a major impact on an organization.
Category 23: Government Communication Programs
- Entries in this category are 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.
Category 24: Non-profit Campaigns
- Recognizing the particular challenges of the non-profit sector, entries in this category can include multiple internal or external audiences.
- Entries promote non-profit organizations or causes.
- Entries can be paid-for 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.
Category 25: Brand Communication
- This category includes strategies for new brands and the repositioning of existing brands in relationship to internal and external audiences.
- Must demonstrate how research findings were used to inform the brand strategy, and discuss the strategic approach and results.
- 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).
Category 26: Social Media Programs
- A social media strategy engages internal and external audiences in conversation. These programs encompass tools and practices that allow individuals and groups to collaborate and share knowledge and experiences online.
- Entries in this category may use conversation-enabled publishing platforms such as blogs and podcasts, social networks such as LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok 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.
Category 27: Multiaudience Communication
- Any strategy or program targeted at more than one internal and external audience.
- These programs align internal and external communication strategies, demonstrate the full range of communication skills, and showcase multiple areas of expertise such as media relations, employee communication, marketing, branding, crisis management, communication research and measurement, and other disciplines.
Category 28: Financial Communication
- Financial communication entails all of the strategies, tactics and tools used to share financial data and recommendations with investors and other interested parties.
- Includes investor relations functions which integrate finance, communication, marketing and securities laws compliance to enable effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and stakeholders.
Category 29: Communication Management, Student Entry
- Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.
Category 30: Diversity and Inclusion
- Campaigns or programs of work aimed at building a culture of inclusion for an organization, with internal or external stakeholders (or both).
- Entries must focus on the communication elements of D&I programs, which could include specific topic-based initiatives, special events or wider organizational strategies to advance D&I aims.
This division recognizes the mentorship and education role of consultants and senior 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.
Category 31: Internal Communication Training
- Training or educational programs delivered to an internal audience that help to improve their communication competencies.
- 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.
Category 32: External Communication Training
- Communication training delivered to an external audience that helps to improve knowledge and understanding of the broad range of communication disciplines and skills.
- May include presentations for conferences, university classes, seminars or workshops, as well as media and executive coaching.
Category 33: Institutional Communication Training
- Communication education developed as part of a curriculum and taught within educational institutions that helps to improve the skills and expertise of students.
- May include strategic communication planning and related elements, and encompass the broad range of communication skills, disciplines and research.
Category 34: Communication Education Tools
- Tools such as books, manuals, white papers, guides, workbooks, and other material that teach key competencies and help to position communication as a key business driver.
- May test, refine or expand communication practices, or critically review issues relevant to the profession.
Category 35: Communication Training and Education, Student Entry
- 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.
Category 36: Digital Communication Vehicles
- 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.
- May 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 37: Digital Communication Channels
- Electronic and interactive communication channels such as websites, intranets, online stores, blogs, podcasts, social networks such as LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok 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.
Category 38: Audio Visual
- Communication vehicles produced using sound, images, video, film, slides, CDs or a combination of these elements.
- May include video, audio, podcasts, PowerPoint or other presentations, and films.
- Does not include advertising commercials.
Category 39: Publications
- Publications produced for internal or external audiences in all formats, except electronic.
- May include magazines, newspapers, newsletters or tabloids, annual reports, books, special publications and similar material.
Category 40: Publication Design
- Design of internal or external publications in all formats, including electronic.
- May include magazines, newspapers, newsletters or tabloids, annual reports, books, special publications, brochures and other advertising material, e-newsletters and similar material.
Category 41: Other Graphic Design
- Communication projects where design is central to the effectiveness of the vehicle.
- May include cartoons, drawings, paintings, collages, montages, posters, displays, bulletin boards, mobiles, invitations and special signs.
- Work may appear in book and magazine covers, posters, organizational identity (logo), product labels and packaging, direct marketing, 3D materials and illustrations.
Category 42: Special Events – Internal
- Planning and execution of a special event for an internal audience.
- 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.
Category 43: Special Events – External
- Planning and execution of a special event for an external audience.
- Examples include conferences, workshops, anniversaries, official openings, product launches, road shows and customer events.
Category 44: Photography within a Communication Vehicle
- Original photographs created or commissioned for a communication project that demonstrates strategic use of images to tell a story or connect with the audience in a meaningful way. This includes single or multiple use of photos.
Category 45: Marketing, Advertising and Sales Vehicles
- This category involves the creative concept, writing and production of marketing, advertising and sales vehicles where the emphasis is on the growth of sales through increased customer and consumer awareness.
- Traditional radio, television, newspaper and magazine print ads (single or series), and advertorials.
- Outdoor advertising including, but not limited to, billboards, murals and public sculpture, posters, wrapped buildings, cars and buses, decorations, neon signs, awnings and street furniture Indoor advertising including pillar ads, garbage can ads, mall displays, poster advertising and airport advertising, indoor billboards and similar vehicles.
- Online and interactive promotions and activities including banner ads, website ads, advertising on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, and other uses of the Internet to reach audiences.
- Sales tools such as product information sheets, direct mail, promotional kits and specialty items.
Category 46: Public Service Announcements
- Video or audio productions of one minute or less distributed to television or radio stations as unpaid public service announcements.
- Print ads distributed to newspapers and/or magazines as unpaid public service announcements.
Category 47: Writing
This category includes writing in traditional and electronic formats.
- Material written in a journalistic style, either by a corporate communicator or a journalist 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 the 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 Internet.
- Material written to promote non-profit organizations, including IABC regional and chapter events.
- Books (fiction and non-fiction), educational material, scripts for theatrical use and other writing projects not covered above.
Category 48: Communication Skills, Student Entry
- Entries to any category in this division submitted by a student.