A lovely big juicy award is the fillip every business needs. It fills a void somewhere between schoolday memories of the excitement of winning the U14 inter-house cricket competition and collecting an oscar. It is the independent recognition that however tough your business world has become/is becoming somewhere, someone thinks you’re making a good fist of it…..and what’s better it also means you are doing a better job than your nearest competitors, who, at the very same moment as you are beaming with success, weaving through a packed room of dinner suits to make it to the stage, are grimacing into their empty glasses, feeling bitter and wondering how quickly they can leave, whilst at the same time smiling courteously and putting their loss down to the fact that ‘they (you!) must know someone on the judging panel’.
Entering an award is a daunting task, it means extra work, lots of extra work. It means sitting down and gathering facts that everyone seems to have hidden away, it means getting hold of real case studies and often engaging customers or suppliers to agree to your recollection of the facts and ultimately it means writing a concise piece of evidential, yet memorable (it has to be memorable) copy that will leap off the page and shout to the Judge, who is doing this for one day only, I AM A WINNER.
So, five quick rules for Award success:
1. Enter the right award for the right reasons:
This sounds obvious, but is a stumbler of the highest order. Enter awards that you have a real chance of winning, that reflect your business, your sector, your region of influence and most importantly can provide real business opportunities and return for the investment – here’s an idea; ask your PR team to provide 5 key awards for 2013 and a brief synopsis – “who won this year and the entry criteria”.
2. Get your timing plan right:
Simple, but very easily forgotten. I have been involved in writing many award submissions, gathering data from multiple stakeholders and have been staggered by the fact that the majority of the work is done with less that 24 hours to complete the document. The entry date is clearly signposted. Use it.
3. Write it out longhand:
This sounds obvious, but in the same way you should approach a PowerPoint, write it. And create a structure. This makes the piece come to life, feel less turgid and also prevents you blindly cutting and pasting huge chunks of financial data and statistics like dead rodents dropped on a page. Yes you need evidence, but you are also looking to appeal to a Judge, who is a human…
4. Bring in Creativity:
It is true that the vast majority of awards are online submissions. But if feasible use your Creative Team or Marketing Dept to put a spin on the award. Colourful language, engaging descriptions of your process or a fresh infographic to display results can bring the award to life.
Finally, 5. Read it through thoroughly:
Again extremely obvious, but it is vitally important that the award has a flow. – you are telling an engaging story, you are bringing the reader into the story, you are delivering a proposition as to why you should win…ensure that story is well-told.
Entering awards should be a fun and the pinnacle part of your commercial strategy, it can take a while to get the formula right, but when you do the red carpet is an extremely seductive place to be.