The Secret Behind Writing Winning Award Entries
Emma Jaques, Bids and Tenders Consultant
So, the award-writing season is upon us again. We're beginning to see the adverts, inviting entries into a myriad of award programmes, ready for the glittering award ceremonies that normally take place in October and November.
Awards are a great boost for PR - and for staff morale - but they can feel like an impossible dream for many businesses, especially those without well-staffed marketing teams whose job it is to find and win awards.
Here at Onto the Page, we love writing award entries for our clients. We've got a great awards track record for ourselves and our clients (our win rate is currently around the 75% mark). And the secret behind our success? Well, it's not such a big secret: we simply apply our bid know-how to writing awards.
So what does this mean in practical terms? Well, it means that we start off by trying to find a win theme (the one 'killer' reason why our client's award entry would be ranked above all others). As with bids, this can take some teasing out of our clients - they love the idea of winning the prize, but can't always immediately think of the reason they should be given it! So it's our job to find out what's different, or special or notable about the particular aspect of their work that they're putting up for close scrutiny. And if the client really can't provide this, despite our probing questions, we're honest with them about their chances of winning, and might counsel them against entering. (We do this with bids, too.)
Once we've found the win theme, we then research the finer details to support the whole entry. We know that, just like bids, award entries that don't contain sufficient detail, or worse, contain vague, unbelievable or unsubstantiated claims, are not likely to win.
So the more detail as we can include, the better we know the award entry will be, and the greater its chances of winning. This means we avoid bland statements: "customers loved it", but include quantifiable benefits: "customer satisfaction scores increased by 5 percentage points in just 3 months". Even better if we can link one (quantifiable) success or benefit to another: "by improving order response times by 24 hours, not only did our customer base grow by 5% - but storage costs also reduced by 10% year on year."
We also make sure that we understand how the entry will be judged, and structure the submission in such a way as to make life easy for the judging panel. We know that judges are busy (they're probably doing the evaluation in their spare time), and so we make it easy for them to find what they're looking for and allocate the marks against the scoring criteria. Making it easier probably also means making it look nice, and wherever we can, we provide supporting documentation that's been designed to catch the eye and stand out from the crowd.
So, you see - writing awards entries really isn't rocket science, but it does need focus! Please feel free to use the methods described above when writing your own. In a nutshell: be selective, give it all the time and energy you can muster, and remember that it's a competition, so always ask yourself: have I done all I can to make this look like a winner?
Emma Jaques is the author of Bid Management and The Winning Bid, both published by Kogan Page. Emma is MD at Onto the Page, Leeds-based bid consultancy, offering a bespoke opportunity search service, bid support and bid skills training. (We also write winning award entries!)
Emma Jaques can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Secret Behind Writing Winning Award Entries, 18th March 2014, 16:02 PM