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3 Steps for Crafting a Winning Award Submission

Fall arrives this week and with it comes the official start of not just pumpkin spice season, but awards season. Although award programs take place throughout the year, a great many industry association, trade publications, and local news outlets solicit award nominations in the fall and early winter. We’ve discussed awards programs on the blog in the past. There are lots of great tips about the content that makes up an awards submission, but as much as anything else, successful award nominations are a process that needs to be managed efficiently and effectively. We’re here to help! Here are the three proven steps to help you manage your next awards submission and bring home the gold:

  1. Ask the Tough Questions: Sometimes one of the most challenging parts of an award submission is finding the right awards program. Before you even begin, the first step is to ask the right questions. Check out our post about five questions you need to ask before you start an award nomination. Often, the marketing and communications professionals serve as the filter when it comes to awards. Not all awards are made equal and some awards will be such a stretch that they’re not worth the resources. Be strategic with your budget and time by finding awards programs that are winnable and give you the most ROI. Set up a series of questions and qualifiers to help you vet an awards program. If it doesn’t meet your needs or you can’t leverage a potential win for business development purposes, don’t do it. That’s why you have to have those questions up front.
  2. Craft and Refine Your Story: Successful award nominations often tell a story. Whether it’s about a company, a project, or a person, there needs to be a compelling narrative. That’s why this second step is so critical. Don’t just give an exact accounting of a project or person. Tell a story! Create context and think about your award nomination as a short story or novella (depending on the submission requirements). Who is the hero and the villain? What’s the surprise twist? How does the story resolve itself by the end? Judges review so many award submissions that you need to stand out. The best way is by telling a compelling story. One you draft that story, hone and refine it mercilessly. Tweak and rewrite the submission at least twice to ensure you’re enhancing the narrative, making it action-oriented, and removing superfluous language.
  3. Manage Your Time and Finish Early: If the second step sounds like it takes some time, it does. Award nominations shouldn’t be thrown together in one sitting. The most successful award nominations take days and often weeks to complete. Be cognizant of how much time you have (this also reinforces why you have to be strategic about which awards programs to target because they are resource-heavy efforts). Create a timeline with action steps and deadline before you begin drafting your award submission. Make sure to give yourself a grace period of a few days or up to a week, if possible. Trying to rush an award submission will result in mistakes, sloppy writing, and a forgettable nomination.  Among your key questions from Step 1 should include: “Do I have enough time to devote to this?” “Can I be reasonably certain I can complete this nomination before the deadline?”

Follow these steps to create truly standout nominations that will help you collect lots of awards! For more tips of drafting award submissions, we published a blog post with great recommendations on how to create an award-winning campaign. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about awards programs or need assistance with your submissions. Good luck and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!

<p>A co-founder and partner, Andrew has been honored by Bulldog Reporter, PR News, and Style Weekly. He develops communications and PR strategies that help clients achieve their goals.</p>