Winning an award is no mean feat, so is it all about luck, or are there things you can do to put yourself and your organisation in a better position?

As a professional awards writer I’ve helped companies win international, national and regional awards. Awards Writers works for a whole range of organisations – from corporates like Kellogg’s and uSwitch through to much smaller businesses.

We supported Aster Group in their 2019 PMAs entries via their creative agency Resource. Aster won Campaign of the Year, highly commended in Team of the Year, and saw them scoop the Grand Prix best of the best award.

Since 2011 we’ve been helping clients get on to shortlists – more than 80% of our entries make it to the finals – so we like to think we know a bit about what it takes.

Here are three top tips for making giving your next award entry the very best chance.

  1. Prepare early

Winning an award isn’t just about telling a good story – although that’s important. It’s also about having the data to back up the narrative you’re weaving, and often that means you have to collect base data to compare to the results of your project. It’s not enough to quote fixed numbers, they need context so that judges can evaluate whether or not those numbers are impressive.

Most awards keep the same categories each year (with perhaps a few minor tweaks), so now’s the time to take a look at the PMAs categories and think about what you might enter in 2020. Then weigh up what evidence you will need to prove your initiative, project or campaign should be award-winning and start gathering it now.

  • Know the rules of the game

You can’t expect to win a game if you don’t know the rules. Every set of awards will have different criteria so it’s imperative that each time you start to put together an entry you check out what they’re asking for. We always do a double-check on:

  • Word count – and whether there’s an allowance e.g. 10% on top
  • Deadline – and whether it’s likely to be extended or not (never bank on it)
  • Appendices – are these allowed? Or are they mandatory?
  • Date range – does your project fall within the dates required?
  • Exact criteria for your category – approach it like an exam and try to tick every box
  • Submission method – most are online, but the odd one asks you to send four hard copies through the post so they don’t have to photocopy everything for the judges!

  • Recruit a critical friend

Writing your entry needs to be a team effort. One person can pull together all of the detail and write the award, but you need someone who is effectively like one of the judging panel and knows nothing about your project to read it through. This is because they will point out what they don’t understand, what could be stronger and where any information is missing. They can also read it to make sure it makes sense in general and pick up on any spelling or grammar issues – it’s so easy to become what we call word blind when you have to proof-read your own work. You’re not looking for someone who will tell you it’s all wonderful, but someone who can give critical (but supportive!) feedback to help you improve the entry.

One last thing

Our final quick tip is a simple one – don’t leave writing your entry until the day before. We allow 4-6 weeks to put together an entry thoroughly and without putting too much pressure on people to only work on that one thing. Awards tend to open early so there’s plenty of time to prepare before the deadline looms.

Louise Turner is the chief wordsmith and award writer at awards agency, Awards Writers. Get more hints, tips and insights into awards at www.awardswriters.com