How to perfect your awards entry; tips from an expert!
Louise Turner is chief wordsmith at Awards Writers. She’s been writing awards submissions for around 20 years and since 2011 has helped clients to wins in European, national and regional awards. Louise is the author of Glory – The Magic Formula for Winning More Business Awards and regularly delivers training to help people improve their awards-writing skills.
There are lots of things you need to do when putting together your award entry, but one of my first pieces of advice is always to log on to the awards submission system. Why? Because to be successful at awards you need to play by the rules of the game. And to play by the rules of the game you need to know them.
Logging into the awards system gets you quite a bit of information about those rules. What is the word count? Do you need to upload a picture along with your logo? Are you allowed to submit additional information? How long is it going to take to get the entry submitted?
You can gather a lot of insight into the task ahead just by looking at the submission platform, and this information will help you put together your best entry in the shortest amount of time.
What to do once you’ve logged into the award entry platform
Start by filling in all of the admin fields – your name, company and contact details. You should be able to save these for when you log back in, and it saves you a job at five minutes before the deadline when you’re trying to get your entry submitted.
Next, investigate the entry itself. Are you just going to write 1000 words and paste it into a box, or are there several questions to answer with varying word counts? What insight do you get into what the awards organisers are looking for? Are there any criteria or sub-questions you need to consider when writing your entry?
At this stage I always paste some information into the form which contains bullet points to check whether these will be counted as words. It’s worth knowing because you don’t want to be making tweaks to an otherwise perfect entry as the deadline looms.
Making a list of award entry requirements
Now you make a list. What are all of the things you need to do or have to complete the award entry? You’ll need to write the entry itself, sure, but that’s not what will catch you out when submitting. If you’re going to need a company description in 100 words, a high-res logo, client testimonials, all of your social media handles, or someone’s inside leg measurement, you’ll find out on the online award system.
For clients we tend to translate that list into a couple of things. First is a Word document with the criteria and word count at the top, broken down into the questions we need to answer if that’s how the submission is structured. We write and edit the entry in Word until everyone is happy with it. Then it’s a simple admin task to upload it to the award submission system.
Secondly, we create a checklist of all the other requirements so the client knows what they need to source. As we write the entries but don’t do any of the uploading, there’s often a few things our clients need to find which we don’t really need. But we want to make sure they know they need to source testimonials or a photograph of the MD as part of our process.
Final advice on submitting your award entry
My final piece of advice is best practice, but rarely happens in reality. Don’t leave it until five minutes before the deadline to do your submission!
Because online platforms are so smart there’s little opportunity for busting the word count (the boxes automatically count words or characters) or submitting an hour too late because the form might well have been programmed to go offline. This means you need to properly plan to get your award not only written, rewritten, fiddled with a few times, and then rewritten again, but you need to get it signed off by whoever the relevant grown-up is in time for you to upload it comfortably before the deadline.
Ideally you’ll submit your award entry the day before the deadline, but at the outside, plan to give yourself half a day’s space. You never know when the internet will go down (the horror!) or you’ll get called into an urgent meeting just at the point you were planning on doing the submission. While online platforms make it a relatively easy task these days, you still want to be confident you’ve done everything right, and in good time too.
For more advice and tips about how to be successful at awards visit the Awards Writers blog.