Award wins, whether they are on a local or national level, provide many benefits to a business. That golden trophy can make you stand out from your competitors, increase credibility, strengthen your brand and provide valuable PR exposure. Awards also offer a way to attract new talent and boost staff morale, especially if they are focussed on individual employees.
I have written many different types and styles of submissions for a variety of awards ranging from care worker of the year to management excellence. Whenever I manage this type of task for a client, I really enjoy gathering the insight and evidence needed, whether this is top level financial data or frontline testimonials from staff. It’s an opportunity to gain a new understanding of an organisation and showcase how it excels in its specialist area of operation.
As much as I enjoy award writing, I’ve also not been afraid to let clients know when I don’t think an award is right for them, whether this is due to the type of award or category, or simply because they don’t have the scope for winning.
So, how do you prepare an award-winning submission? Here are my top tips to writing a stand out submission that will make the judges place you in the shortlist pile…
Is the award the right fit?
It’s important to consider whether the overall awards, and the categories, are aligned to your organisation’s business objectives, visions and values. More often than not, the category criteria will focus on wider organisational objectives, and if yours are not a good fit, this is a disadvantage straight away.
Who are the award’s organisers trying to attract? Does this audience fit your workforce and/or customers? Where are they advertising the awards and how will they promote the finalists/winners? It’s got to be worthwhile.
Also, take the time to research past finalists and winners as this will provide an indication to the types of organisations that will be entering again.
Entering a category for the sake of entering will undoubtedly be a time waster for all involved, with the end result culminating in judges hitting the big red buzzer when reading your irrelevant submission. Many companies are tempted to enter as many categories as possible with the mindset that this will give them a bigger chance of being shortlisted. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Look at the criteria for the category and consider whether your organisation can provide enough evidence and data to answer questions fully. If you are digging around for information and having to try and increase the word count, this is not the category for your business. You need to be in a position where there is a wealth of relevant information to share, that ideally needs to be cut back to the word count.
Quality award submissions
It is likely that other award entries are going to be submitted from your competitors, so it’s important to consider whether you have the evidence and data to support a good quality award submission that makes you stand out from the crowd!
Don’t assume the judges know what you will be trying to explain. Award submissions are not unlike job applications. Consider the criteria, provide the evidence and back this up with experience and knowledge. If your organisation is performing above industry standards, let the judges know. If you are meant to be talking about an innovative product or service, focus on this and not how amazing your CEO is.
If you are entering more than one award, don’t copy and paste your submissions. The awards have different categories for a reason and it’s your job to showcase why you should be worthy of winning each individual award. There’s no reason why an organisation cannot win more than one award, but each submission has to be of good quality and relevant to the criteria.
Add detail to your awards submission
‘Fiona is great’. Is she? It would be much better with some detail. ‘Fiona has been an outstanding manager, providing clear leadership and direction to her team, resulting in an 85% increased retention rate from April to December.’ Oh yeah, she really is great.
This goes back to my earlier comments of backing up any points with evidence and adding quality to your content.
Good writing skills are of course also beneficial to an awards submission. Judges will have plenty of nominations to read through and this task can easily become monotonous. Adding some personality to the story will not only make it more interesting but also convey the culture of your organisation. Don’t add words for the sake of it though, be matter of fact and to the point with what you are trying to convey.
You’re a finalist
Congratulations! You did it.
You will more than likely be invited to an awards ceremony where you get to share the evening with your team. Being shortlisted can provide its own PR opportunities, before you’ve even been announced as the winner. Be sure to make the most of these.
Perhaps, you will also be asked to attend an awards interview, as part of the final shortlisting process. How do I handle the interview process I hear you say? Well, that’s another blog for another time…