Contest Rules

Read the following rules carefully before submitting contest entries.

If you have questions on how to prepare an entry, contact Contest managers and judges will have the discretion of disqualifying entries that are incomplete or inconsistent with the contest rules.

Submitting an Entry

All entrants are required to complete the online entry form. 

Entry materials are submitted electronically. This means you'll need to upload electronic files and/or submit URLs that lead to your entries.

Cost per entry

      • $75 for MAGC and MACTA members.
      • $100 for nonmembers.
      • There is no discount for multiple entries.

If you choose to pay by invoice ...

If you select "invoice me" as your payment option, MAGC must receive your payment check by Friday, March 22. Unpaid entries run the risk of disqualification.

      • Tip: You can "submit" your entries weeks ahead of the deadline in order to receive an invoice early in the process. You'll be able to continue editing your entries until the contest deadline.

Have questions about the invoicing process? Need assistance? Contact

Choose the category or categories for your entries carefully.

Each entry will be judged in the category in which it was submitted. Entries will not be moved into other categories, regardless of whether judges think they might fit better in that category. 

Refer to the contest categories list for this year's categories.

General Rules


The Northern Lights Awards competition is open to communicators in the public sector (including federal, state, regional and local government agencies; nonprofit agencies and school districts) and to producers in the private sector who have completed work for Minnesota nonprofit or government communicators.

Projects completed or published between January 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019 are eligible for this year's contest.

You do not need to be a MAGC member to enter the contest.

Use and Publication of Entries

MAGC reserves the right to use and/or refer to Northern Lights Awards contest submissions in its communications and publications on all media platforms in all publication realms. Examples of areas in which MAGC may use contest entries are:

      • As examples of entries in that category.
      • On the MAGC website as examples of outstanding work by its members.
      • At workshops, seminars, the MAGC Fall Conference, etc.  
      • On display at the Northern Lights Awards contest ceremony, to show examples of award winners.
      • In future promotions of MAGC and the Northern Lights Awards contest.
      • In other areas of publication at the discretion of the MAGC board and its volunteers.

Faulty URLs in Entries

It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that all URLs submitted as part of the entry are working and active from the date of entry submission through the end of May.

An entry with a link URL that does not provide proper access to the expected asset during the judging process may considered impossible to judge and, as a result, may be taken out of consideration for an award.

Trophy Corrections

MAGC will purchase a corrected trophy upon request, at no cost to a contest entrant, if the trophy contains an error introduced by MAGC in the trophy ordering process.

A contest entrant may purchase a corrected trophy at their own expense if the text of the trophy they've received matches the information provided by the entrant on the contest entry form.

No Refund Policy

Entry fees are non-refundable. MAGC reserves the right to refuse a refund in the case of:

      • an incomplete entry,
      • an entry with one or more components submitted after the deadline for entries,
      • an entry that contains faulty or incorrect information including one or more faulty URLs,
      • an entry that has been rejected due to other shortcomings identified by the contest organizers,
      • or any other situation that MAGC, in its sole determination, deems to be a sufficient cause for refusing a refund. 

Determination of Awards 

Each judge gives each entry a set of scores that when added produce a total score of 0 - 100. The total scores from all judges are averaged to produce the entry's final score. No entry receiving a final score of 70 or lower is eligible for any award, regardless of ranking.

Northern Lights, Silver and Bronze awards:  The final scores of all entries in a category are ranked using standard competition ranking (see below) to determine which entries receive an award. 

Award of Merit: The Award of Merit honors entries that receive a qualifying 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 of Show: Nominations for Best of Show are made by the contest's judges. Each judge may nominate one entry for Best of Show. Judges are not required to nominate any entry for Best of Show. A nomination for Best of Show will only be considered if the entry also qualifies to receive a Northern Lights Award.

The MAGC board or its designees select a single Best of Show winner from the nominated entries. No person with a conflict of interest (see below) may participate in the Best of Show selection process.

Communicator of the Year Award and Lifetime Achievement Award: Awardees are chosen by the MAGC board or its designees. These awards are not necessarily awarded each year. See Special Achievement Awards for more information about these awards. 

Standard Competition Ranking

Standard competition ranking is used to determine which awards are granted in each category. This ranking system may be familiar to you due to its use in many athletic competitions including the Olympics.

Under this system, the award for each entry is determined by the number of entries scoring higher than it. This means that first place is granted to an entry if no other entry has scored higher than it; second place is awarded to an entry if one entry has scored higher than it; and third place is awarded to an entry if two entries have scored higher than it.

Here are some examples to show how standard competition ranking handles tie scores.

There is a tie for high score. 

      • 1-1-3. Two first-place awards are granted. The next entry receives a third-place award because there are two entries (the two tying for first place) that scored higher.

There is a single high score and a tie for second-highest score.

      • 1-2-2. A first-place award is granted, and two second-place awards are granted. The next-ranked entry does not receive a third-place award because there are three entries (the ones receiving the awards) that scored higher.

There is a tie score for third place.

      • 1-2-3-3. One first-place award, one second-place award, and two third-place awards are granted. Each entry involved in the tie receives a third-place award because there are two entries that scored higher.

To everyone's surprise, two entries tie for highest score, and three entries tie for the next-highest score. 

      • 1-1-3-3-3. Two first-place awards are granted. Each entry involved in the second tie receives a third-place award because there are two entries that scored higher.

To everyone's amazement, four entries tie for highest score. 

      • 1-1-1-1. Four first-place awards are granted. No other ranked awards are granted. 

Rules Regarding Judges

Conflicts of Interest

Judges must recuse themselves if asked to judge a category in which they have a conflict of interest. For example, it is a conflict of interest when a judge scores an entry that is from an organization employing the judge or an organization contracting services from the judge.

Conflicts of interest have become much less common since MAGC and TAMIO (Texas) have been judging each other's entries.

Anonymity of Judges

MAGC does not disclose the names of the judges who have scored any entry.

Minnesota Association of Government Communicators | 5775 Wayzata Blvd, Suite 700, PMB #200-016 | St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Phone: 952-237-9258 | Email:

2019 © Minnesota Association of Government Communicators. All rights reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software