With award season in full swing, we reveal some behind-the-scenes tips that are guaranteed to increase your chances of winning.
That time of year is again upon us: awards season. While the actual winning might have been downplayed at your school’s sports days, now that you’re using valuable resources to enter, winning certainly is the end game.
First things first, ask yourself one key question: why are you entering? Awards take up time, and time deserves to be spent wisely. There’s a lot to be said for having some hefty considerations and being honest about the ROI before you even think about throwing your hat into the ring.
But once you’ve decided to enter, how do you take your award that little bit closer to the finish line? Here at Cohesive, we’ve spent many years racing towards award deadlines with the corresponding adrenaline rush. We pride ourselves on thinking outside of the box, especially when it comes to technology awards.
Here’s our guide to winning around those all-important judges, with a few behind-the-scenes tips that other PR agencies won’t tell you:
Live by the question
You shouldn’t just read the question – your finished entry should focus on comprehensively answering every part of it, with no stone left unturned. Word counts are limited, so you need to hit each section of judging criteria, just like a checklist.
Reusing content written for another award entry might seem like a time-saving shortcut, but there’s nothing quite like purposefully targeted content which takes into account the specifics of each question. Trust us, it makes a huge difference.
Ditch the jargon
Yes, your entry should be impressive, but the judges may well not be technical experts. They’re looking for an entry that shines without using any hard-to-penetrate and complex language. Break the topic down and you won’t risk sending your panel to sleep.
Create an engaging narrative
It’s the same old cliché: people like people. Well, at least they like people’s stories. A great entry often flows in chronological order, quickly building up a narrative, with twists and turns just like any interesting copy. It should develop a passionate argument – think of it as a debate where you persuade everyone your entry is the best.
Don’t underestimate facts, figures and quotes
There’s nothing quite like third-party recognition to underpin the argument that a product or service is award winning. While sometimes hard work to get hold of, statistics and figures are extremely powerful and add that weight to your entry to push it over the finish line.
In our digital era, words aren’t all you have to play with. ‘Supporting materials’ and video content are now run-of-the-mill for lots of awards.
The CRN Channel Awards this year asked for entries in video and PDF format. Multimedia entries are increasingly being requested – you can imagine that watching thousands of videos is substantially more entertaining and time-effective in comparison to reading thousands of words.
For public votes, such as the MicroScope ACEs, it’s all about the post-entry marketing campaign to mobilise your voters.
Put yourself in the judges’ shoes
When it comes to the final throes of putting your entry together, get others to read it. This is a great test of an outstanding award and the easiest way to identify weak areas – other readers shouldn’t need any context to understand and believe in its argument.
You can test just how engaging your entry truly is by reading it to yourself when your brain’s tired. Those first few lines need to capture the judges’ attention, as you’ll be contending with hundred of other entries. Don’t let your entry get binned after the first two paragraphs, before you’ve even had the chance to shine.
Sadly, sometimes even an enticing entry isn’t enough. There are some awards (no names mentioned…), where if you haven’t bought a table for the ceremony or aren’t a regular advertiser with the publication, then you aren’t going to win. It’s as simple as that. Luckily, any good PR agency will be well aware of these familiar players and will be able to advise you accordingly.
On that note, if you do indeed get the result you’ve been hoping for and win the award, don’t expect that the media will pick up the press release on your triumph. While award wins are invaluable from a content marketing perspective, they are not news!