How to write a killer award entry

Article by Katie Mallinson from Scriba PR

Laptop on desk, working from homeWhile it’s been a challenge for many organisers to hold prizegiving ceremonies virtually, one thing has remained – that winning accolades is still incredibly valuable for growing and successful businesses.

Not only can award recognition result in independent endorsement, it helps to promote brand credibility and leverage lead generation opportunities. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance for companies to celebrate clients and colleagues for their work throughout the past 12 months.

However, creating the ‘killer content’ to make a judging panel select yours ahead of hundreds of other submissions isn’t something to be taken lightly, it takes time to craft the perfect entry. Founder and MD of Scriba PR, Katie Mallinson provides some tips to hopefully kickstart you on your way to awards success…

  1. First, make sure you put in the hours and do your research

A quick Google search will soon show that there are tonnes of accolades out there. From trade and regional to sector-specific gongs, each finalist’s ceremony packs its own punch – so it’s worth exploring which ones are the best fit for your business from a cost and brand perspective.

If you’re wanting to put your hat in the ring for an industry-led trophy, look at your key media titles first and foremost as they’re likely running ones themselves. For example, in PR we have the Prolific North Awards, then there’s Lets Recycle’s Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management recognition for environment-conscious companies, and Personnel Today for human resources-based organisations.

Additionally, there are regional and national gongs as well as sector-specific prizes. The latter is an important one for me personally as this is the perfect opportunity to put your clients or clients’ clients on a pedestal, which helps to strengthen those all-important customer relationships.

So, play to your strengths, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box if there’s a particular success story that deserves its own entry. And look out for advice-led email comms and web articles from the awards’ judges and previous winners because they provide you with killer insight helping you to truly stand out.

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  1. Plan ahead and make sure that you have all your assets in place

The good thing about many entry deadlines is that you often get a few months – sometimes up to a year! – to flag the event in your diary, make a note of the deadline (for the final entry and shortlist announcement), criteria and word count. Use that time wisely, because a beautifully crafted submission isn’t solely about the written content.

I’m talking about assets. Videos, hi-res imagery – such as professionally-shot employee and team photos – logos, and infographics. There’s also the collation of all relevant URL links, testimonials and media coverage that clearly evidences your key points within the entry.

With most of the world operating online now too, organisers are using virtual methods to their advantage. Recently, awards judges have encouraged companies to put time into submitting more visual-led content. And if they’re recommending it, take notice if you want to stand out!

But that doesn’t mean you have to run a Hollywood-style production to get the ‘killer shot’. A simple piece to camera from a manager, director or business leader – covering what award you’re entering, why and listing key achievements which supports your submission – can be an effective piece of comms that other companies haven’t thought about.

  1. Gather the brief

Only at point three are we venturing into the realms of writing anything down. That’s because a crucial part of the awards writing process is often the preparation phase!

Whether you’re penning an entry for yourself or on behalf of clients, get together to note down all the detail. And, if there’s anything you take from this blog, make sure it’s this – gather critical facts and figures as these will underline how your work impacted the all-important bottom line.

Several awards entry templates do include prompts such as ‘What were the key objectives for this campaign?’ and ‘What challenges did you overcome?’ to assist in your fact-finding mission. However, use these helpful headers as a chance to also work out how you can expand on them. For example, if you’re entering a business of the year category, what project or achievement elevates your company from the rest?

Thinking outside the box plays dividends here because judges are often looking for something extraordinary. It could be to do with a ground-breaking Corporate Social Responsibility strategy or how you’re committing profits to empowering and upskilling your team. Investing in something worthy, and dedicating resources to giving back can make all the difference.

  1. Include relevant testimonials and supporting documents

Do you have a note in your fact-finding brief that mentions you won your biggest client or project that year? If so, is there a client quote to evidence its importance? Get it written down!

Many awarding bodies will have a section asking for testimonials to be submitted separately so get your most relevant comments and don’t ignore this part of the entry. And, better yet, if you can design a PDF or video that includes these comments, that could help you to stand out even more.

When it comes to supporting documents, this is a great chance to include elements that don’t necessarily impact on your word count, but which are too vital to leave out.

Media coverage, relevant videos, URL links and infographics are all brilliant additions here. Get creative (and make sure to double-check the total MB size you’re allowed to submit!)

  1. Proof, check your word count and be proud!

Poorly written entries are a judge’s nightmare. If you’ve sent something that’s littered with terrible typos and gruesome grammar, it puts your brand credibility into question straight away.

Get colleagues to proof your entry like they would a piece of project work because it’s vital you submit content that you’re proud of. Give it the love and attention it deserves – after all it could be the difference between getting shortlisted and falling at the first hurdle.

And a final piece of advice from me is to always double-check your word count. It’s put there for a reason and judges will scrap an entry if it goes over or is grossly under – even when it’s beautifully crafted. So, check, check and check again!

If you found this piece useful, get in touch to see how Scriba can help get your next client campaign or company success recognised!

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