I’m writing this following a very happy email from one of our clients, littered with smiley faced emojis, after being told that they’ve been shortlisted for an award that’s considered a major accolade within their industry.
I’m delighted to say that the HeadOn PR team were responsible for managing the entry and, if they win, I’m sure you’ll see a lot more noise from us on social media.
So, what makes a winning award entry?
The first thing is careful selection. Ensure that whatever award and category you pick, you have a very good chance of winning as awards, done properly, take up considerable time and resource.
To judge your chances of success, look at past winners and why they won. Are you in the same calibre of entry? Would your entry match the merits on which they were judged? Can you fulfil every point made as part of the award’s judging criteria? If yes, then it’s worth entering – and if there is an entry fee, check that there is budget to cover it.
Before launching into crafting the entry submission, read the judging criteria again, noting every requirement that needs to be fulfilled, every instruction and every requested piece of supportive information. Work out who to assign the various aspects to within your organisation as they can help to gather the insight and information you need to make your entry as strong as possible. Data, trends, customer examples etc are all powerful proof points to include in your entry and can often be reliant on other parts of the business to provide from sales, marketing or finance.
Whoever you may need to call upon, set them strict deadlines to ensure you get this information well ahead of the award deadline. Don’t leave it until a few days before in case of any questions or any approvals are required. Remind them of the benefits of winning this award, both for shining a spotlight on their personal work and achievements, and for elevating the organisation’s brand.
Consider the evidence you have to support your entry as, again, this takes time to gather and the information often comes from a variety of sources within the organisation or from your external PR agency. So, plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to liaise with third parties to pull all the evidence together.
Press coverage, for instance, is a big influencer – how much exposure has your company, person, brand, project or product had? What great things has the media said about the nominee to boost its credibility and audience reach?
Social media posts, testimonials, case studies, growth and sales numbers etc … these are all strong points of evidence to back up your entry.
Think video too. It’s a powerful tool for awards. Judges love video to capture why you’re the winning entry. Use video to blow the judges away and to convey a good feeling about the company’s achievements in just a few minutes.
Consider if this is an award that you enter as a sole entity or whether it might work better as a joint entry (with the permission of a customer or partner).
If you’re entering the award as a collaboration, give your customer or partner plenty of warning and factor in enough time for their approval processes, especially when multiple people are involved.
Crafting your award entry
Once you have all the insight and data you need, craft the submission in a way that tells a compelling story and don’t be modest. Now is the perfect time to be proud and boastful about the team’s great work.
Think of the style and tone of your wording – does it reflect your organisation and the exciting work you’ve done? And, as you’re drafting, continuously revert to the entry criteria to ensure you’re always addressing every point that the judges want to see.
Once the submission form is crafted, revisit the criteria one last time. Check and then check again. Does your entry cover off every point in the category descriptor? This is reported as by far the biggest mistake organisations make when writing an award entry.
Proof and proof again. Does it fit within the word limit as marks will be deducted if not? This is when pulling in a skilled editor helps. Someone with a keen eye for detail is very useful. Pick someone who has not been involved in the project being entered, for an independent viewpoint, who can spot any typos, and who can balance word count against still getting across all those key points that meet the judging criteria.
Award entry writing is a skill but it’s one worth investing in. And once you have that polished entry with powerful evidence, use it time and again for other awards – awards that will propel your business, elevate your brand and gain you significant recognition that makes you stand out from the competition.
If you would like HeadOn PR’s help or advice to craft an award-winning entry, please contact us here.