Recently I was asked to be a judge at an awards event, and since it’s the first I’ve done for a number of years, I thought I’d share my experience and thoughts around submitting award entries.
Firstly, and unashamedly, I’d been trying to get on a judging panel for a while - it’s a great way to get an understanding and feel for what’s going on in our world. You get to meet some amazing people in your peer group and you have the opportunity to read some inspiring stories about people, products, teams, campaigns and much else besides. So I’d highly recommend it if you get a chance!
What I found most staggering about the judging process overall was just how disparate the quality of the entries were. From one word answers and copycat entries, to really in-depth and insightful answers - the range was really eye-opening. Being transparent, we’ve only recently invested properly in awards entries ourselves - so I’d hate to think what people said about our entries over the years! But if you can get on the right side of it, and master how to properly enter your projects, you’ll definitely be on to a winner.
So with this insight from my recent judging, I thought I’d give you my top 10 considerations before entering any awards... the dos and the don’ts if you will.
- Is your product/service/team/campaign really good enough to win? This may sound obvious, but entries where the activity only launched 3 months ago and have no results aren’t really going to win anything.
- Can you fill out EVERY section of the entry - you’d be surprised how many don’t do this! Some schemes have scoring across all answers, not just the obvious ones, so give thought to everything written down.
- Not only that, but can you fill out EVERY section of the entry comprehensively - again one word answers just didn't stand up against entries that were able to explain the point in full.
- Read the entry criteria THOROUGHLY - entrants lose out on winning because they don’t read the question criteria properly (the budget is one that regularly catches people out here).
- Cut the marketing spiel. Judges don’t want jargon, we want to understand in simple terms what you delivered, and how well it performed - many of us might be marketers ourselves, so the clearer the better!
- Excite and inspire me - make me want to read the supplementary information and dig deeper into your entry. Keep entries punchy and relevant though to keep the judge interested. Get someone who wasn’t involved in the project to check it from a fresh perspective.
- Do not re-purpose entries. Write each one from scratch, we don’t want to read the same entry for two separate awards, as you may not win either. Be really clear, up front why your entry should win that particular category - going on to show why.
- Use the entry form provided - again, sounds simple but some don’t and judges don’t take too kindly to those that don’t. Rules are rules, and this process helps to put everyone on the same playing field.
- Do, however, consider how to make the entry ‘look and feel’ as if it stands out while using the format provided.
- And remember, if you’ve got something to shout about, please carry on entering awards! It’s a fantastic thing to be recognised for your achievements.
So there you have it, what I imagine to be a sure fire way to get your award entry some attention, and better yet, a win! If you do it well, you’ll be the ones celebrating, and with the judges alongside you.
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