No matter how big or small your business is, being recognised by an awards body is a sure-fire way to build awareness, credibility and positive publicity, not to mention pride amongst your team.
Each year we develop dozens of successful award entries for our clients, regionally, by sector and nationally, so we thought we’d share some top tips gleaned from our experience over the years…
It’s never too early to start.
Whether it’s an award that requires pages of supporting evidence or a punchy 400-word entry, it takes time to get it right.
Sometimes, the shorter the word-count limit, the harder it can be. Bizarrely, a really tight award entry can take longer to craft than a more fulsome one. It’s all about what to put in and what to leave out. It’s quite an art.
Where to start?
The first thing you need to do is create a diary of all the awards you’re interested in. Now you have a map of awards for the rest of the year and you can set about planning what you need and when.
Time spent on awards intelligence is invaluable
Experience tells us that no award process is the same, so preparation time will vary. You’ll need to assess what facts and information you require and how accessible the relevant information is to you.
Top tip: Check out the questions and the associated word count. Then you’ll know what you need to answer, and how many words, or characters you’ve got to play with.
Have you checked the criteria thoroughly?
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people take a cursory look at questions and forget to look at the helpful judging criteria. Judges will often tell you what they’re looking for. You need to give them exactly what they’ve asked for.
Have you got the information that the judges want?
This can be a tricky one. Digging out the facts and figures can be a challenge, so throughout the year take care to keep a note of things like investment, increases in turnover, headcount uplift, number of products sold, customer visits, new products launched, and so on.
Top tip: Even before the entry forms go live, look at last year’s awards questions. They’ll often give you a feel for what judges are expecting in the upcoming awards. Now you can gather lots of helpful facts and figures without the stress of the ticking clock.
Are you providing the award material in the correct format?
The devil is in the detail. Don’t spend hours carefully crafting 1,000 words, only to discover that you’re asked for 1,000 characters. Yes – it really does happen, and it’s shattering, because you’ll only find out when you upload your copy to the online platform.
Top tip 1: Check the details. What supplementary detail can you supply and in what format? Can you include links or attachments? Is it word/character count? Be thorough and meticulous. You can’t say you haven’t been warned!
Top tip 2: Capture the questions. Most award entries are online, so to avoid an accidental entry, start the process and capture all the questions. You can enter under an assumed name, capture the detail and drop it into a word document. Now you can draft an entry, which can be dropped into the final online form once you’re happy with it.
Get to the point
When characters count, get to the point.
Top tip: Use bullet points. They help you to be punchy.
Current figures, tables, charts and even infographics can be valuable allies when it comes to evidence. They take time, so be sure to make time for them.
Top tip: Be fact-led. Show the judges the positive impact your actions have had on your business, the community, your customers, clients, staff…
Show where your business goes the extra mile
Judges aren’t just looking for ‘good’; they’re looking for ‘outstanding’. Show them what your business does that others fail to.
Top tip: Look at who won last year and identify what you do better. Shine a light on elements that exceed expectations. Focus on those things that judges won’t read in the other entries.
Don’t forget the power of third party endorsement
You can tell the world that you’re great until the cows come home, but it means next to nothing unless other people say the same. Make sure that you direct the judges to third party endorsement and testimonials.
Top tip: If your product or service has been positively reviewed by an influential journalist, tell the judges. Give links if you’re permitted and don’t forget to show ratings on independent platforms. Social media channels are powerful, so show growth, engagement and positive comments from happy customers.
Try not to bore the judges with the same information told a different way. Seek out something new for each question. That helps to keep your entry fresh, vibrant and engaging.
Top tip: Keep a list of the key points you want to make in your submission. See how these fit in to the questions at a global level. This may help avoid re-writes when you realise you’ve used evidence that fits more powerfully in a later response.
Edit and re-edit
Keeping your copy tight and to the point will enable you to create richer entries, packed full of relevant information and evidence.
Top tip: If writing’s not your thing, working with an external expert can take the weight off your shoulders, enhancing your success rate without the stress. You get all the benefits without the hassle, plus access to years of experience and a few additional tricks of the trade that take entries to the next level.
Don’t miss the deadline
Busy schedules mean it’s all too easy to miss key deadlines.
Top tip 1: Aim to complete your entries ahead of the time and don’t rely on extensions.
Top tip 2: Be a realist. If you don’t have the time to develop an entry yourself, turn to the experts.
You’ve got to be in it to win it
Okay, so you might not win an award at the first time of trying, but by entering you will get better and your business will improve. You’ll be able to identify weaknesses that you can strengthen, so when you come back next year, you can be a genuine contender.
Using these tips should help you on your way to creating a strong award entry, but if you find yourself short of time or dreading the process, our team of experts are ready to help.
With a 90% plus success rate in shortlistings and numerous client wins, we’re the answer to award anxiety and excellence.
Why not give our team of PR, marketing and award entry experts a call today on 01392 680740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Together we can be winners!