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Editorial Challenge winner unveiled

After the success of the first two TABPI Design Challenges, we are excited to announce the winner of the first TABPI Editorial Challenge. Alison Hall, Senior Writer for Sudbury, Mass.-based Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine, took home the prize money with the quality and tone of her writing, and her detail work. (See her entry below.)

The Challenge was as follows:

Editorial Challenge #1

You work for Concrete Times magazine as the chief editor. Your senior editor, Marcie, who had been assigned the next issue’s cover story, went into early labor, and just had a healthy baby girl. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, you have to write her feature in minimal time. All she has for you is a press release and a very short interview that she had conducted. Making things worse, you haven’t been able to get in touch with any of the other people involved in the story or the PR people. Oh, and the story is due right away.

Please submit your headline, deck and lede (with the lede a maximum of 350 words) for your story. You can download the press release and Marcie’s interview notes here. Assume that all facts in the release and the interview are correct and have been fact-checked. Please include your name, title, publication, address, and email.

The winner and honorable mentions were selected based on writing style, creativity, how well they drew the reader in, and whether they solve the problem, as presented.

Our panel of editorial judges consisted of:

Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, 1to1 Media
John Dix, Editor in Chief, Network World
Pauline Herbst, former Editor, Wares New Zealand
Travis Stanton, Editor, EXHIBITOR Magazine

We asked all of our judges for both positive feedback and constructive criticism of all the winners, so as to make this a learning experience for everyone. We also welcome your feedback. Did our panel pick the one you liked the best? What would you have done differently? Please comment on our b2b forums, here.

 

The winning solution, submitted by Alison Hall, Senior Writer, Corporate Meetings & Incentives, MeetingsNet

Tender Guy in a Tough Job

He spoiled his own surprise and barely made it to Paris, but when Jake “Fuzzy” Casreno stepped up to accept WCMA’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, it was the perfect cap to a career in concrete.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta love it. That somebody would be Fuzzy Casreno, founder of Casreno Concrete Construction. “No one person has had the positive effect on our industry that he has,” said Barbara G. Mullens, president, World Concrete Marketing Association. “Anytime you needed anything, Fuzzy was there for you. We could pick no one other than Fuzzy for our first Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Casreno accepted the honor at the World Concrete Awards banquet at the Park Hyatt in Paris on April 3, during Concrete World-Europe 2009. His elder son, J.D., introduced him. (J.D. and his brother, Bobby, took over the company when their father retired in 2006.) During an emotional keynote speech, Casreno expressed his wish that his wife, Dorothy, who died of cancer in 2007, could have celebrated with him.

The banquet “was like our wedding reception in that I knew pretty much everyone in that room,” Casreno said later. And many of them, according to Mullens, had personal reasons for cheering the honoree. “It didn’t matter whether you were a competitor or not, he was always willing to help out,” she said. “Concrete wouldn’t be what it is today without his 40-plus years of service to the industry.”

That service began in 1961 when he was hired as a salesman for TR Construction. Three years later, he launched his own company. “I was in my early twenties, and some people didn’t take me seriously,” he remembers. “But I’d have to say that, even though it was a lot of hard work, I never doubted that I would be successful.”

Along with that ever-present optimism, Casreno’s career was marked by innovation and marketing smarts. His company was among the first to use precast concrete forms for building construction, and the popularity of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) walls in both the commercial and residential markets can be traced to his tireless promotion.

Now Casreno just hopes the next generation can stay passionate about concrete. “It’s the people in the industry,” he said. “Their passion rubs off on you, and you can’t help but become excited yourself.”

Judges said:

• A well-written and constructed story that flows beautifully. My favorite.

• This well-written entry presented all the relevant facts in an interesting way. The head, deck, and opening sentence cleverly used opposites to draw readers in.

• Headline doesn't say enough, but the deck is great. Lead relies on a twisted cliché, and that is a major strike against it, but the writer gets the best quote front in center in the nut paragraph and does a nice job of laying out the essential details in an inviting and orderly way. Good detail deep in the story about how Casreno promoted use of ICF technology.

• Many of the entries felt like well-written press releases, but not this one. The head and deck set the story up to be a feature with definite cover potential. And the lede didn't disappoint, matching the quality and tone of the head and deck. I'd love to read the rest of this writer's story. And based solely on the strength of this entry, would love to see his or her byline in my next issue. Every sentence demonstrates a thoughtful approach to not just writing, but crafting the piece. The pacing and line of the lede is wonderful and moves readers along without bogging them down in dry, often unnecessary, press-release data. Very well done.

 

 

Honorable Mention: Submitted by Jeff Weinstock, Executive Editor, T.H.E. Journal

Constructing a Legacy

For his more than 40 years of pioneering work in the concrete industry, Jake “Fuzzy” Casreno receives the WCMA’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

There’s just no missing the irony that Jake Casreno’s career in concrete began on shaky ground.

“The first customer I ever called on turned out to be the father of one of my old girlfriends,” Casreno recalls. “I wasn’t really ready for that.”

So did he get the sale? “No, no way. Hard as I tried, that fellow was having nothing to do with me. But I managed through, and never looked back.”

Now the man better known as “Fuzzy” can indulge in some looking back, having just returned from Paris, the site of the World Concrete Marketing Association’s annual World Concrete Awards, with the WCMA’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

The honor was more than 40 years in the making, tracing back to 1964, when Casreno broke away from his job for TJ Construction and founded Casreno Concrete Construction. His company pioneered the use of precast concrete forms in building construction, and Casreno was instrumental in marketing insulated concrete form (ICF) walls in both the commercial and residential markets. He is also past president of the WCMA, serving in that post from 1989 to 1991; he sat on the organization’s board of directors from 1983 through 1995.

“We could pick no one other than Fuzzy for our first lifetime award,” says current WCMA President Barbara G. Mullens. “No one person has had the positive effect on our industry that he has. Any time you needed anything, Fuzzy was there for you. It didn’t matter whether you were a competitor or not, he was always willing to help out. And concrete wouldn’t be what it is today without his efforts.”

Casreno, who retired three years ago—his sons, Bobby and J.D., now operate his company—says he thought it was a goof when he heard he was named the WCMA’s inaugural lifetime honoree. “I thought Barbara was joking with me, really. It’s such a great honor to get this kind of thing, but to be the first one ever was even more meaningful. It means so much, because it was presented by my peers.”

Judges said:

• Highly original and well written.

• Another fantastic entry! I'm a sucker for head/deck packages that really work together to tell a story and quickly establish a theme and/or tone for the text to come. This lede's hook is really lovely and very well executed, moving us nicely into and out of the ex-girlfriend anecdote. Bottom line, the entry really wove a lot of elements into this tight little lede, but did so in a way that maintains a nice line through the piece and leaves readers interested in the rest of the story.

• This entry cleverly used the information provided to draw readers in and keep their interest. It also captured and used all the relevant supporting information.

• Great head and deck. Nice approach in the story introduction, but it carries on too long before we get to the meat. Once the writer gets to the detail, though, they do a good job focusing on why Casreno is deserving of this award and what he achieved in his career. Also nicely positions the strong Mullens' quote.

 

 

Honorable Mention: Submitted by Blair Chancey, Managing Editor, QSR magazine

Lifetime [Achievement] Guarantee

Jake “Fuzzy” Casreno’s career was as durable and long lasting as the product he sold and last month he received the industry’s first lifetime achievement award.

It’s often said that if you want to build something that lasts, build it on rock, not sand. But Jake “Fuzzy” Casreno’s 40-plus year career proves that if you want to build something that stands the test of time, mix the sand, the rock and a little water and build it on concrete.

Former World Concrete Marketing Association president and board of director member, Casreno began his career in the concrete business in 1961 and then launched his own company, Casreno Concrete Construction, in 1964. Just last month, and four decades after his first attempt at selling concrete (it was to his ex-girlfriend’s father and didn’t end well), Casreno was awarded the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award by the WCMA at the Word Concrete Awards banquet in Paris.

“It’s such a great honor to get this kind of thing, but to be the first one ever was even more meaningful,” Casreno says.

To a lifelong concrete guy, this kind of award means a lot. For sure, it takes an industry veteran to liken winning the WCMA award to his wedding reception and tear up when recounting it.

“What an amazing kind of party, you know, when there’s all the people you care about in the industry, all the people who you have helped out over the years,” he says.

And Casreno has helped out a good majority of the concrete industry …

Judges said:

• Head is a stretch and not really clear, but the writer did a nice job in the intro of taking the raw material and mixing it up in a pleasing way.

• The best part of this entry is the hook in the lede. The deck and hook work very well together. The first half of the lede is stronger than the second half, where it starts to feel just a tad disconnected. But all in all, the writer was able to capture and convey the salient details in a way that hints at Fuzzy's character without venturing too far into the human-interesty realm of Lifetime made-for-TV movies. And that's much more of an art than most people realize.

• Great hed and deck. I loved the initial hook. Bit light on solid info thereafter.

 

Honorable Mention: Submitted by David Challinor, Editor, Optometry Today, U.K.

Emotive Casreno gets first-ever WCMA lifetime achievement honour

Dash to Paris is part of ‘Fuzzy’s’ journey to Awards

Jake ‘Fuzzy’ Casreno, the promoter of concrete construction, was awarded the WCMA’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Paris tonight (April 3). Casreno, known to many in the industry as ‘Mr Concrete’ for his tireless work for the sector, attended the Association’s World Concrete Awards banquet, and received the honour emotionally.

Speaking to Concrete Times, Casreno said accepting the award at the dinner reminded him of his wedding day to his wife Dorothy, who died two years ago.

Saying he wished she could be there to celebrate with him, Casreno told CT: “It was like our wedding reception, in that I knew pretty much everyone in that room. What an amazing party, when there’s all the people you care about in the industry, all the people who you have helped out over the years, and all the people who have given back [their time] to help you, as well.”

However, Casreno revealed he almost did not get to the ceremony.

His journey to Paris included flights from his home in Atlanta to Newark, and then on to France. But the Atlanta-Newark flight was cancelled, so the sprightly Careno had to sprint between terminals to catch the direct flight to Paris on another airline.

“I would have missed the ceremony otherwise. They held the door for me, and shut it right after I boarded. I don’t know if I’ve ever run so fast without someone chasing me.”

When he got to Paris on the morning of the awards, his taxi was involved in a minor accident with a truck, before another taxi was flagged down, which took him safely to his hotel. “I felt like the gods were trying to keep me from the Park Hyatt,” he said.

WCMA president Barbara G. Mullens said: “No one person has had the positive effect on our industry that he has. Anytime you needed anything, Fuzzy was there for you. It didn’t matter whether you were a competitor or not, he was always willing to help out. Concrete wouldn’t be what it is today without his 40-plus years of service to the industry.”

Judges said:

• Readable and packed with information.

• Lead seemed to minimize his contributions by calling Casreno "the promoter of concrete construction, and then used the acronym for the WCMA before spelling out the name of the organization. This piece also put a higher priority on the information about his trip to Paris than why he was deserving of the award, which is nicely summed up in the Mullens' quote in the release and prime for the plucking.

• This writer clearly identified the two distinctly different directions in which this story could go. Rather than opting exclusively for the blasé-bio route or the sappy, human-interest route, the writer merged the two. The strength in this approach is that it appeals to both kinds of readers. The danger is that if it's not done artfully, you end up half-assing both components of the story and mixing emotional content in with dry press-release details, which ends up feeling like a dramatic movie with way too many commercial breaks. Suffice to say, this was a valient effort but could have used more polish.

 

Honorable Mention: Submitted by Cindy Grahl, Editor, Sabre Publishing Group, Inc.

“Fuzzy” Casreno given first-ever WCMA Lifetime Achievement Award

The journey from his Atlanta home to the Paris ceremony took over 40 years

In one way, it was inevitable. But in another, it almost didn’t happen. At the annual gala World Concrete Awards banquet held in Paris this spring, the World Concrete Marketing Association (WCMA) named Jake “Fuzzy” Casreno as its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award winner. That is the inevitable part. Casreno is an advocate for concrete construction, a past president of the WCMA from 1989-1991 and a member of the board of directors for an unprecedented six 2-year terms.

But it almost didn’t happen because Casreno barely got to the ceremony. His initial connecting flight from Atlanta was cancelled due to weather, so he had to run to anther terminal to catch a direct flight to Paris on another airline. “I would have missed the ceremony otherwise,” he says. “I don’t know if I’ve ever run so fast without someone chasing me.” Then, upon arrival, his taxi had a minor fender-bender with a truck. No one was hurt, and the taxi driver flagged down another taxi to take him safely to the ceremony. “I felt like the gods were trying to keep me from the Park Hyatt,” he jokes.

But get there he did, despite the transportation problems, because, after all, considering his history, it was inevitable.

“We could pick no one other than Fuzzy for our first Lifetime award,” said current WCMA president Barbara G. Mullens. “No one person has had the positive effect on our industry that he has. And concrete wouldn’t be what it is today without his efforts, his 40-plus years of service to the industry.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was created by the WCMA to recognize outstanding achievement in the industry and to highlight the importance of concrete construction. Casreno says that the group had talked about having a lifetime achievement award back when he was president of WCMA, but it never came to fruition, due to financial constraints.

That is, until now. (story continues)

Judges said:

• Interesting approach, but the crux is coming too late for it to work.

• In my opinion, the highlight of this entry is the deck. I also appreciate the hook in the lede, but feel like the writer borders on beating readers over the head with it. When crafting a lead, restraint is important, and I think this could have benefitted from one or two rewrites to just tighten things up a bit and avoid some of the unnecessary words that are almost tiny little bumps in the road that threaten smooth readability. As an editor, this is the kind of head/deck/lede package I'd love to get in a first draft.

• The bones are there, and it offers a lot of possibility, but needs a tiny bit of cleaning up in order to really sing.

 

Do you have suggestions for a future design or editorial challenge? Email us with your suggestions.

 


 

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