February 2020: We have written about why to enter awards, explaining that there is a multitude of PR benefits to enjoyed from both entering and sponsoring awards. Now we are going to focus on what we think makes a winning entry. As professional advisors we are providing the best possible guidance for clients and that includes recommending projects which are worth of award recognition. It is also our responsibility to ensure that we assess any project objectively rather than submit an entry which falls below the entry criteria.
A good place to start is to ask does the initiative excite people, both within the organisation and externally? Similarly if the entry is for an individual or team, how are they perceived? Do some research with colleagues and contacts. A positive reception amongst stakeholders will make creating a winning submission much easier.
Part of the Company’s Purpose
Is this project related to the company’s overall purpose? Although it is possible to win awards for new products, services and programmes which pivot the organisation, an initiative which demonstrates a significant contribution to the purpose of the business will always be well received by judges.
Related to purpose but with more substantial proof required, awards submissions should always align with the brand’s values. Dedicate some of the submission to explaining how the project fits within the business’s objectives and how it complements other activities in the corporate strategy.
Test that your (and your client’s) judgement is not biased by showing the summary to a trusted confidante, preferably not involved in the client’s industry. Can they understand the benefits easily and appreciate the stellar quality of the concept? Even with highly technical projects, the benefits should be straightforward as some members of judging panels are sourced from outside the sector in which the awards are based.
Many awards ask specifically for evidence to substantiate any claims. In some cases this may mean quoting figures or supplying direct quotes from stakeholders. If you can show that the figures have been independently audited this will help and if there is positive feedback on publicly accessible websites such as review sites or social media, make sure this is included.
If the awards scheme allows you to submit any extra material, fill this part of your submission with graphs to explain your figures, include photos and videos to bring the project to life and package the contents in the best presentation possible. Over the last three decades we have created awards for clients, we have produced audio tracks, films and coffee table picture books.
Presentations and Visits
Some awards request that the judges visit the site of the project, in which case you need to plan that visit as if a VIP was attending. A professional PR company will have experience of managing such events and will be able to help you make the most of a judges inspection.
Another stage can be the requirement to present your award to a panel of judges. Remember that whilst your sales team might be used to making presentations, others might not be and whilst you should strive for professionalism, genuine content from those involved in the project will be more welcome than people chosen just for their presentation skills.
Observe the rules
All awards have terms and conditions of entry but they can differ considerably. Take the time to read through the small print it will be worth it; whether that is checking the eligibility criteria, reviewing the possible future use of your company data or something as simple as deadlines. Follow the rules, there is no point trying to game the system. It is always worth asking for an extension if you need more time but as the rules say: the judges’ decision is final.
We are very successful at winning awards for clients, having helped clients win awards in the travel, transport, rail, interior design, commercial property, business travel, jewellery, customer service and tourism sectors. We can help from the very first phase, researching the awards to enter, through to the preparation of the submissions and the judges’ visits and presentation, and even with lobbying for awards which are decided by public vote. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org.