Awards
29.09.2017 Writing brighter award entries: Our top tips

Entering (and hopefully winning!) awards is a great thing both for your business and your employees. Just being shortlisted can demonstrate to clients and the marketplace the great work you have been doing, and it’s a great morale booster for teams to be recognised for their work.

However, it can be daunting to know which awards to go for, and even more so to write your entry, particularly if you’re paying to enter or you’re new to writing award submissions.

Here at Brighter, we know a thing or two about writing winning entries. We’re a multiple award-winning agency for our campaign work for clients, and are also proud to have scooped an Institute of Directors award for our business. More importantly, we regularly help clients identify and enter business and sector-specific awards, and are proud of our success rate.

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We like to think we’re a giving bunch, so here are our top tips on how to write a brighter award entry that really stands out from the crowd.

  1. 1. Get the basics right

You can undo lots of good work by not getting the basics right. Something as simple as not checking for typos, writing the wrong entry category on the form or not realising a deadline is midday and not 5pm can make the difference between getting on a shortlist and wasting hours, if not days, of effort. So be sure to check all the details.

  1. 2. Write persuasively

A good award entry tells a story, builds a compelling narrative and hooks judges from the opening paragraph. Write in plain English, and ban all PR jargon (yes, we wrote that!) and acronyms. If you’re claiming to be ‘leading’, do you have evidence to back that up? And whatever you do, ban ‘synergies’ and ‘solutions’ if you can help it. Your job is to tell a story that judges – who may not know anything about your industry or sector – can understand. The trick is to tell a story that inspires, and to tell it like it is. Make every word count, and make sure the final copy sparkles.

  1. 3. Give evidence

If you’re making claims about growth, market share or customer satisfaction, then be sure to back it up with evidence. Data matters, but don’t go to town on graphs and numbers. Pick the data that backs up your claims, and use it cleverly. Consider what you want judges to know or remember about you. Whether it’s a 20 per cent uplift in turnover, a 50 per cent improvement in staff attrition or a 5 per cent increase in market share, be sure you have the numbers to back up any achievements you want to shout about. A quick and dirty SurveyMonkey staff or client satisfaction survey is better than no data at all.

Most awards have the option for you to omit any commercially sensitive information before they publish a synopsis of your entry, but check this is the case before you divulge anything you wouldn’t want competitors to know.

Another great way to strengthen an entry is with customer testimonials; making sure you have a bank of these ready to go is a great way to save time.

  1. 4. Be honest

Most judges will be able to spot bullshit a mile off. Be honest, and don’t attempt to cover any weaknesses by being creative with the truth. If you’ve overcome ‘monsters’ to succeed then be candid about it – it may well strengthen the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re spending a long time trying to sugar coat the truth, then you might even need to think twice about entering.

  1. 5. Give it time

Even if you have a clear idea of what you’re going to write, you may still need input from other staff members or departments when it comes to evidence or testimonials. You need time to source the raw data before crafting your entry, or even to work out how to get the data if none exists. So don’t leave your entry until the last minute, whatever you do. It creates needless panic and means you won’t produce the best possible entry. We start with a mind-map of what we want to include, then build in time to gather the evidence we need.

  1. 6.Words beat links

The format for awards entries is usually text-based, so you need to be able to craft a story using words rather than links or videos. An award entry is an elevator pitch, so you need to be able to sum up your case. Judges won’t appreciate being directed to endless links. If you are allowed to submit supporting material, think about how you can present it visually if you can, and always double check the format they will accept before pulling together your supporting material. For example, for one award entry we wrote our supporting evidence in pithy short paragraphs, then turned it into a colourful ‘story book’ format. Be creative, but always stay well within the rules. Judges are time poor so aim to make your entry a joy to read and digest. They generally (although not always) read hard copies of entries, so anything that involves them having to do extra work is generally a no-no.

  1. 7. Proofread and proofread. And then proofread some more

It’s an obvious one, but it’s the one thing that always gets squeezed when deadlines are tight. Make sure your entry goes through two human proof readers after the obvious spell check process (it might be spelled correctly, but is it what you mean to SAY?). If you can, share with somebody from outside of your business who can look at the entry with fresh eyes and may spot some obvious gaps or questions that you hadn’t considered. We always build in at least two days for this process.

We love to write award entries at Brighter HQ, both for ourselves and for clients. If you need help with identifying and writing awards, drop us a line.