Awards Season – Making it count

It is nearing the end of exam season and in the last couple of weeks, I have also spent some time marking… judging industry award entries. 

As always it has been an interesting process, with lots of close entries, which often made it hard to determine winners.

Of course a winner there has to be. Based on the entries, category criteria, and combined judges’ responses (no sorry I cannot be influenced!) it was a robust process.

However, having seen the bulk of the entries, I thought it may be useful to jot down some of my observations. What indeed made a good entry and what were the trends in those I felt had a greater chance of winning?

So here goes.

  1. You need to enter to win.  This sounds obvious I know, but I was surprised that some really great businesses and ideas had not entered.  They will not win for sure.  
  2. Don’t enter multiple categories with the same response.  In most of life if you use a similar approach you get a similar response.  Entries are reviewed and reviewed by humans and they will notice if the text is generic the same, or not a good fit to the category.  Try to change it up so each of the responses is fresh and of interest to the judges for review… you will get better attention for your entry.
  3. Explain what is new.  Don’t just use generic boilerplate or text describing what the product or company does and has done in the recent past.  Instead, describe what is new and what has been developed or innovated recently.  We all like to hear new or interesting ideas, and what has changed for the better and this plays well in an entry
  4. Be specific. Provide examples that are specific to the category.  Explain why this entry fits and why this is the choice, rather than hoping the fit can be seen.
  5. Make it easy to read.  Information that is easy to read and understand floats to the top for consideration (just like in the rest of the business).  Dense text or complicated prose may contain some fabulous information, but if there is work to extract it is all too easy to move on to the next which is easier (remember the entry is only one of many).  Make your text easy to read, well-spaced, and (my preference) use bullets.
  6. Keep it short.  It is always easy to write a lot and difficult to write a little (and have it meaningful).  However short, tight entries are quicker to read, understand and review.  Make it easy for the reader.
  7. Use Data.  Use a little data around specific % improvements. Customer or employee feedback anecdotes also really go a long way to illustrate the case for your entry.  If you have made an improvement, the best practice is to measure it, so just put these (summary) measures in.  This makes a massive difference.
  8. Invite the folks who completed the entry to the actual awards.  If you are shortlisted make sure you get the folks who spent time completing the entry to the awards.  These evenings are fun and a great incentive for helping to make sure your entry is the best it can be.

Now, I do remember how difficult completing these can be.  When you have a lot on and are given this to do, so often it is extra ‘side of’ desk work and all too easy to cut corners.  But hopefully, these few simple tips can make a difference and at minimum help smooth the process… it can be all worth it.

Have a good week everyone.

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