We all want to win awards, and the first step to success is writing a winning award entry. You don’t have to be an innate writer to do this. You simply need to follow a structured process and focus on showcasing your unique attributes. In this post, I share five steps to follow in order to ensure your entry catches the judges’ attention.
1. Create Your Winning Award Entry Plan
First, writing a good award entry always takes longer than you think. It is vital to approach award entering strategically and plan to ensure that the process runs smoothly and is not rushed. At the initial stage, start by plotting these four components on a timeline: selecting a project, writing the entry, proofreading and submitting.
Give yourself enough time to analyse your work and decide which projects have been most successful. It’s important to involve the specialists who worked directly on the project because they know first hand how it progressed and why it was successful. Decide who is the best person to write the entry and who is going to proofread it.
If you don’t have an award in mind already, when selecting one, keep in mind what your objectives are (PR, winning customers etc.) and what impact the award will have on your business. If you’re unsure what category to enter, look at where your activities have made a significant impact your business. If you’re still unsure, contact the judges for their view. Most importantly, your decision on how many awards to enter should be based on your achievements and what your business does.
2. Showcase Your Most Successful Project
You put a lot of effort in all your projects and you’re proud of the results, however you must focus on the one that will impress the judges the most. When digging through your projects to select for your award entry, focus on comparing the initial objectives of the projects and the results achieved. It’s good practice to look back 18 months, but not further back (unless otherwise stated in the questions or Ts&Cs).
Judges read hundreds of forms, therefore it is a good idea to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself a series of questions such as:
- What was the biggest change you made for your clients business?
- Would this make a good story?
- How is my project different?
If you’re having difficulties selecting a project, start more generally by focusing on what makes you different from your competitors. Is it your employees, your delivery method, or both?
3. Match Your Project to the Award Entry Category
It is critical to make it easy for judges to understand why you deserve to win. The simplest way to do this is to address the criteria point by point. Identify the most important words in the question and reflect them in your answer. This shows them that you tick all the boxes. Discuss all the points in the question, not just the ones that you excelled at.
From experience, it is best to address the following aspects: who, what, why, where and how. By covering these questions, you will put together a story of how you set your objectives up, what actions you took and what the outcomes were. It’s best to ask the project coordinator to write the entry in order to ensure accuracy, specificity and detailed answers. They know the best what the critical actions were that made you achieve your goals; whether that’s time management, original ideas, communication, leadership, motivation, employee empowerment, or budget management.
Needless to say, if you are using the same example for multiple award entries, make sure you change the focus of your answers to reflect the questions.
4. Use Evidence to Back up Claims
Use statistics, charts and testimonials to highlight the impact your actions have had on your customers or clients. The evidence can support your claims regarding commercial growth, employee and customer satisfaction, customer acquisition and retention or any other metric relevant to the category and judging criteria. If you are using charts and tables, explain what they represent for more clarity and relevance (again, make the judges’ lives easier). Use numbers to show reduction in costs, increase in ROI, increase in lifetime value of customers, customer retention and so on. If you are unsure about sharing confidential client data, you can always use percentages. This aspect should not worry you though because all judges are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, so they will not disclose any information.
5. Read, Proofread and Repeat
Never submit the first draft, but take time to check the entry thoroughly. When you start writing, don’t focus on the length of the entry, your only worry should be the content and ticking the boxes. Your first draft can be incredibly detailed but you should then read it several times and cut it down every time to make sure it is concise and to the point so the judges will understand your story quickly and easily. If there is a word count limit, stick to it and don’t use too many charts to avoid using words. Aim for quality, not quantity, keep the entry simple and don’t use any jargon or acronyms. While proofreading, it is good practice to read the entry out loud and to ask somebody who doesn’t know what you do to read it and see if they understand what your story is. Our ultimate guide to proofreading will help you ensure your entry is flawless. The final version of your entry should be compelling, interesting and contain the required details.
Doing a great job might not be enough to win an award, however approaching the application process strategically can significantly improve your chances. The method above is one tested way to win the judges as it is the method Hallam followed when we won the “UK Digital Experience Award” last year. If you have any tips or alternative methods, feel free to share them in the comment section below.