In this short guide we review the common pitfalls of drafting awards submissions, and how you can avoid them to give yourself the best chance of being shortlisted.
It’s been a busy few weeks in the entertainment industry’s awards season, and with the Oscar winner’s due next week Monday, it’s easy to get swept away by who-will-win-what and forget the work behind the scenes in actually being nominated in the first place.
But, just like every awards process, even the Oscars require have set eligibility criteria. It doesn’t happen by magic, but rather by a detailed set of rules.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing industry award entries for clients and employers over the years – at Perceptive we’ve won 50 awards for clients and ourselves in the past three years alone. In fact, we’ve recently been shortlisted for Boutique Agency of the Year at the PR Moment Awards to be announced on March 16 (fingers crossed!).
While every industry is different, there are a few common pitfalls which will usually guarantee your entry won’t make the cut:
- Underestimating the work involved
I’m often amused by how easy everybody thinks writing awards submissions is . . . until they don’t win.
It’s heart-breaking when your hard work and exciting project isn’t recognised, and the first hurdle is being shortlisted.
So make certain you give yourself plenty of time to sit and write the award, run it through sign off, review it and submit. This should include background reading on the previous winning entries, and in-depth interrogation of your colleagues and the work being showcased. Needless to say, the entry must be error-free in every way.
- Failing to answer the question
The most common complaint we’ve heard from colleagues and clients who’ve judged awards are that would-be nominees fail to answer the question properly.
Instead, applicants often go overboard on offering something incredibly dense and impenetrable or, on the other end of the scale, cut and paste something un-tailored and low on substance.
You need to write from a place of genuine understanding and insight on what was achieved, and how it demonstrates best practice against the entry criteria. Make certain that you have addressed every single point in the award’s criteria explicitly.
- Arrogance, verbosity, vagueness
This relates closely to the two points above and is sadly something we hear a lot of.
Too often, awards submission writers assume their audience is just as excited or knowledgeable about their particular piece of work as they are. So they fail to explain the results clearly and concisely, which often irritates judges and comes across as arrogant even if not intended to be so.
Being too verbose, or alternatively favouring style over substance, puts up unnecessary barriers between your submission and the shortlist.
Be careful to avoid jargon and clichés, and never assume insider knowledge on the part of your judges. While they likely are incredibly experienced and knowledgeable themselves, they also have hundreds, potentially thousands of other submissions to read. There is no guarantee they will recognise or care as deeply about your brand as you do.
Hopefully the above tips will help you get your next submission into great shape. If you would like a professional consultation on how you could improve your hit rate with awards submissions, or would like to discuss how we could write and help you win your next award entry, get in touch.