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An awards writing checklist

April, 2021

Entering – and preferably winning – awards can be a great promotional tool for yourself and/or your organisation, but what is the secret to success? How do you get yourself on the shortlist? And what can you do to ensure victory is yours? Erica Jones of Kent PR and marketing agency Maxim offers some advice.

Here at Maxim we’ve spent a lot of time advising clients on awards, writing and managing entries and celebrating a number of successes. We’ve also seen the other side, forwarding hundreds of nominations into the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards to a team of hard-working judges. We don’t do any judging ourselves, but this combined experience means we have a very good idea of what does – and doesn’t – work when it comes to entering awards.

A good place to start when writing your award entry is to think of it like a job application: success in either of these has the potential to be life-changing* and so throwing together an awards entry five minutes before deadline is not an advisable tactic.

Here’s our awards-writing checklist:

• Read the instructions – it may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to miss important nomination advice.

• Key words – select the important words in the entry criteria and use them. Judges have only a limited time to review each nomination, so make it easy for them by including language they will be looking for from the category description.

• Make links live – in the spirit of making things easy for the judges, if your nomination is electronic, make sure you save web links so they are clickable. A judge is much more likely to visit your website if it requires only one click to do so.

• Introduce your topic – just because you know your organisation/role/project does not mean the judges do. Remember to include a few words to introduce yourself as if to a stranger.

• Be clear and concise – use easy to understand language and remember that one word is definitely better than five when telling the judges why your work deserves to win.

• Examples not descriptions – “I’m great” is not an award-winning sentence. Demonstrating your talent with written explanations is much more likely to have an impact.

• Provide strong supporting evidence – awards often allow you to back up your nomination with examples of your work. As well as providing the best of your work, make sure it is well displayed: a good enough resolution to be viewed without being such a large file it overloads the judges’ broadband capability.

• Look good – this isn’t possible if your award entry involves a form, but if the format of your nomination is left to you, make sure it stands out. Include photos, design it like a leaflet, magazine, newspaper, poster… do whatever it takes to – tastefully – ensure your entry catches the eye of the judges in a sea of black and white text.

• Check everything – don’t let yourself down by making silly spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. These undermine your entry and suggest you might not actually be as good as you claim.

• Avoid repetition – if you’re entering more than one category in an award, you can probably get away with submitting the same nomination two, three or more times. But how would you feel if you were a judge constantly seeing the same entry? If possible, mix it up. Provide different examples and make sure you tailor your language to each individual award. One size does not fit all when it comes to awards.

• Avoid repetition (again) – are you entering an award you’ve entered before? Whether you entered, were shortlisted or won, make sure your entry is different. It’s possible – especially if you were a winner last time – that the judges will remember you, so make sure they know you’ve improved or changed.

*This may seem like a bold claim, but there’s a reason many award-winners don’t return to the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards: being identified as the best means they stand out for future job opportunities.

Erica Jones - Account Director

Erica Jones

Maxim / Account Director

posted in: advice, maxim/client news, public relations,

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