Sail-World.com : AMIF responds to Australian Marine Award criticism
AMIF responds to Australian Marine Award criticism
Sherry Donaldson, the CEO of the Australian Marine Industry Federation, responds to criticism of the Australian Marine Awards.
There's been a lot of misinformation and opinion published on the Australian Marine Awards this year. Much of the material published shows how little is known about the awards.
Each year AMIF distributes more than 2000 questionnaires to the marine industry seeking feedback on issues such as imported boats, fees, the location and format of the awards event and so on.
When the industry tells us it wants change on any or all of these issues, we will institute change. To date, however, the consensus from our surveys indicates without doubt that we are doing all the right things.
Before anyone thinks AMIF staff somehow 'rig' the survey results, an Industry Reference Group is briefed on the results of the survey and any recommendations which are made to the AMIF Board for changes are first discussed by the Industry Reference Group. This group has open membership so anyone can nominate when they complete the annual survey.
Critics of the fee structure, the boats featured in the AMAs, the event and so on should understand that AMIF is simply doing exactly what the majority of industry has indicated it wants in its survey responses.
There has also been some criticism that 'you cannot become a finalist unless you advertise with a media partner'?
That is incorrect. There are currently four 'media partners' and these 'media partners' are so called because they are prepared to test boats referring to the AMIF criteria throughout the year.
They are also prepared to come to a meeting in late February at their own expense and to nominate boats as finalists. They send judges to three locations to work with eight to 10 other judges to look at the finalist boats over a total of seven to eight days. Anyone can self nominate by getting their boat tested with a 'media partner' during the testing period.
So I point out to people who call the office and say, 'But I have had my boat tested with X or Y publications. Why can’t I be in the awards?'
No reason, except that in late February there will be no one at the AMIF meeting to recommend your boat becomes a finalist because X or Y publication does not want to be involved in the awards. It is not rocket science and nor does it have anything to do with advertising.
All publications are invited to contribute and become a 'media partner' and AMIF would welcome more help from other media. I am sure the current media partners would welcome it too. It would help spread the load.
Entrants have from 1 March in one year to 23 February in the next to submit their entry to AMIF. Let me be honest, the chances of booking a boat test after November are going to be slim with only the four media partners. The media partners are extraordinary in their efforts to fit everyone in, but they not magicians and cannot cater to all requests.
The judging is a time consuming and costly process. The media partners pay the airfares of their staff; the times involved with judging and also foot the bill for the print coverage. The industry should be applauding these publications for the support they are showing. It would be much easier and cheaper for them to sit on the sidelines sniping at the awards, the judges and the AMIF.
While the awards process has nothing to do with advertising, if I were an entrant I think that I would certainly be asking any publication in which I advertised whether or not they were involved with the awards.
I would also like to clear up some other business in reference to suggestions that the actions of the judges or AMIF should be questioned in relation to one of the 2007 entries and its eligibility. It should be known that the entrant had done all of the right things, followed procedure, booked a boat test in advance and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the allocated boat tester.
Unfortunately, the boat tester was involved in a motorcycle accident the day before the scheduled test and could not attend. The entrant can hardly be penalised for that.
The boat was tested by four judges at the finalist judging and scored accordingly. I called a meeting of judges prior to the announcement of the Awards to satisfy myself that we had treated the entrant fairly under the circumstances.
I believe that to be the case and the best boat won. During my involvement with the awards I have never had to deal with such an issue and I hope that it will never again occur, but if it did I would make the same decision, as I am sure that any impartial person would.
Now on to the criteria, another area which has attracted attention, in print at least. With regard to the criteria for powerboats we think that we just about have it right. Over the past six years (once again through the AMIF surveys) the industry has provided us with so much helpful information and clarification, that in the last June 2007 survey, apart from the one or two minor changes, we seem to have conquered (for now) the powerboat criteria.
In 2007 we used the new criteria and the comments were generally positive from the powerboat sector.
Unfortunately, we tried to transfer the new criteria directly across to the sailing categories with what I consider to be disastrous results.
I take full responsibility for this. We did not have anyone from the sailing sector on our Industry Reference Group last year (when we changed the criteria for 2007) and I did not consult widely enough before making the changes.
As a result, we were unable to award trophies in many of the categories, as a score of 90% on every criterion must be achieved. This is definitely not a reflection on the calibre of the judges, who are experienced and devoted to the promotion of sailing.
Thankfully, the sailing fraternity took the time to put their concerns in writing and agreed to form a Sailing Reference Group to assist AMIF to produce separate sailing criteria. These are being developed at the moment and once the Sailing Reference Group has approved them, they will be up on the website for comment.
As a final comment, the criteria for the awards are listed on the AMIF website.
Just so it's crystal clear, here's how it works: Entrants who are selected as finalists are directed to the website, required to complete an entry form, which apart from asking entrants to nominate their preferred finalist judging location (with dates clearly supplied), also asks them to sign off that they have read the terms and conditions.
When we receive the signed entry we assume that entrants have read the criteria and are prepared to address them for the judging. Pretty simple, really.
Keep any eye out for informed and balanced articles on the 2008 AMIF Australian Marine Awards in Marine Business, Club Marine Magazine, Modern Boating, the Gold Coast Bulletin, Sea Spray Magazine and of course, the BIA Newsletters!
by AMIF Media
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4:42 AM Thu 4 Oct 2007 GMT
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