8 October 2018

Three essentials to help you write award-winning entries

Winning awards is a sure-fire way to bring your organisation to prominence and capture attention from prospective customers and new members. In fact, you don’t even have to win – a shortlisting or nomination can be just as rewarding. But first you need to write a great submission.

So how do you do that?

In this article, we’ll run you through the three key elements that lie behind the creation of every great award entry.

Ready? OK, let’s go…

  1. Picking the best award category

Many would-be winners fall at the first hurdle by not adequately matching their entry to the specific requirements of their award category.

Sometimes this is down simply to a poorly-written entry (more on that in a mo) but, just as often, it’s a question of suitability as people try to crowbar an entry into an inappropriate category of a high-profile awards.

The first task is to ask yourself: is this the best award for us? Try matching all the great things you want to shout about to the award criteria. If they don’t marry neatly, this isn’t the award for you – move on and find one that is a better fit.

  1. Writing well

Let’s focus on a few basics first: try to stay within the word count (it’s there for a reason) and avoid using huge blocks of text – if you can, break them up with cross-headings or an occasional bullet-pointed list. Above all, use the written form to impress the potency of your project upon the judges.

That means using an ‘active’ voice rather than one that’s passive. In simple terms, this means making the subject of each sentence the performer of the action, not the beneficiary – ‘Corp Inc built the website’ rather than ‘the website was built for Corp Inc’.

Mix in with this approach a reliance on shorter sentences and powerful words and your entry will start to come along nicely.

But what if you’re short of time?

It may seem like a great time-saving idea to draft one entry and use it across multiple awards, but every entry should be individualised. Think of the award entry as you would any other written piece of communication your business would put out: it should tell a coherent, personalised story.

Another reason for not considering this course of action is that judges are quick to catch a whiff of a cut-and-pasted entry, and they’re unlikely to look favourably upon it.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with having snippets of text that can be interchangeably used across submissions that are then refined and focused into a compelling narrative.

All of which brings us neatly to…

  1. Creating a compelling case

We’ve already discussed the idea of whether your submission is right for a certain award, but once you’ve decided this is the case, it’s time to demonstrate how and why your entry meets the specific criteria better than any other.

First stop is to read the judges’ advice – they often tell you exactly what they’re looking for and provide useful examples. The next is to list all the main points you’re going to communicate and how you’ll attempt to validate them.

It’s a waste of time and resources for a business to have a compelling case but fail to adequately communicate why they should be a winner. The way to ensure success is to present as much relevant evidence as possible, and then to continually relate this back to the judges’ requirements.

So arm yourself with great stats that are relevant to the awards’ requested period, pick a captivating case study, ask a client for a winning testimonial, and contextualise your results by demonstrating how they compare with typical market conditions.

Time to draft your submission…

If you can make use of these three main pieces of advice, then drafting an award submission that hits the brief, makes great use of its evidence and really wows the judges is well within your grasp.

Best of luck!