Writing a winning entry

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There are lots of things you can do to give your entry the best chance of winning, some are more important than others.

Perhaps the most important is to read and understand the judging criteria, and make sure you cover these in your entry. You’d be amazed how many people don’t. I’ve sat on numerous panels where the criteria specifically ask for something which is ignored by many entrants, and the judges say “I’m sure this is an excellent entry, unfortunately, we can’t compare its effectiveness with the others as the key performance criteria is missing”.

In fact, the judges should sit at the heart of your thinking when preparing your entry, as it is they who make the decision.
Treat your entry like a marketing campaign – you need to get the judges’ attention, attract their interest, make them want to read your material, and make your material make them want to give you an award.

Here are our top tips for Awards entries to help you along.

Read the instructions
All awards schemes have small print, and it’s important to read it. If they have a word limit then keep within it. If you write reams and reams and ignore the instruction you will make it difficult for the judges to compare your entry against others who have. It may even annoy the judges.

Hit the deadline
The awards entry deadline is not plucked from thin air, it’s part of a schedule for a large and complex process. Hitting the deadline will make the organiser think well of you, and will allow the judge the maximum amount of time to consider your entry. Many schemes do extend their deadlines, so do ask the organiser if they do, or are planning to if you think you will need the extra time, but don’t put it off again until the day before the deadline. Being as early as you can will be appreciated.

Get the judges’ attention
Judges will be looking at more than one entry. Just as when you turn up to a job interview knowing the panel will be seeing others, the same is true for your entry. On many Awards programmes, the judges may be spending days reading through entries, often in their own time, so you need to quickly identify yourself as one they should pick up. A crisp, clear, but attractive application is an easy-to-handle entry which immediately makes it obvious why it is the winner. .

Hit the judging criteria
If there is a ‘most important’ tip, then this is it. Read the criteria for the particular category you are entering (recognising that different categories most probably have different criteria). Then make sure you give direct, easy to find and clear to understand ratings for your entry against *ALL* of them.

Don’t do it on the side
Putting together a good award entry takes time, effort. Allocate both– if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Indeed, it’s not worth doing if you’re not going to do it well, as only one other person has to do it better than you for you to lose.

Put people in it
People are great. Customers can say why you’re great in a single sentence. Staff can embody commitment and excellence. Use your customer’s or your own people to tell your story.

And of course, keep your fingers crossed. Good luck!

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