A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Award Entries

Move over, Oscars. Award season is in full swing, and industry professionals far and wide are eagerly anticipating big wins.

Something that’s come as a bit of a surprise to me is my apparent talent for writing award entries. I’m not just blowing my own trumpet: in the last six months alone, I’ve managed to secure nominations for the following:

  • Hydra Creative – Best Sustainable/Green Campaign at the Northern Marketing Awards
  • Hydra Creative – Technology for Good at the Prolific North Tech Awards (spoiler alert: they won!)
  • The Group Company – Export Team of the Year (details of ceremony embargoed for now)
  • Little old me – Digital Creator of the Year at the Digital Women Awards (results pending)
  • Little old me, again – Digital Freelancer of the Year at the Digital Women Awards (results pending)

Naturally, I’m feeling pretty happy about these. It’s a joy to see my clients being recognised for their talents, and if I can help in any way, then even better.

And yes, I’ll admit, I filled in the forms for the Digital Women Awards. It’s the inaugural event, and I don’t want to put pressure on my clients to fill them out for me. Award entries take time, and I am the writer, after all.

Writing award entries: where to start

If you’re looking for a little PR boost, awards are a great way to go about it. They make for engaging social media content, show your clients you’re serious about what you do, and they’re invariably a smashing night out.

I’ve been filling out these forms for clients for a few years now. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Choose the right award

It might be tempting to cast your net wide and apply for as many awards as possible, but again, these things take time. You need to consider that every second of your time has value. Don’t waste it applying for an irrelevant award.

Before you apply, take a look at last year’s nominees. Are they the same size as your company? Do they have the same values and work on similar projects? Don’t apply based on tenuous links. Follow relevant organisations on social media – for example, marketers might follow Campaign – and look out for new categories.

Introduce your company with your back story.

Remember: unless you’re Coca Cola, your judge likely has little idea of who you are. Introduce your award entry with a short back story about how you journeyed to where you are today. This should naturally segue into how you found the talent you’re working with, and how you produced your award-worthy work.

Don’t be afraid to be loquacious.

Generally, award entries give you up to 1,000 words to wax lyrical about your company. You’re allowed to be a little verbose in this context: talk yourselves up with positive language, focused around quality and strong values. This is your chance to showcase what makes you so amazing, so don’t be afraid to include your clients’ feedback as well as your staff’s.

List your biggest achievements – with numbers.

As much as you’re allowed to be a little ‘fluffy’ with your entry, it needs substance as well as style. Judges love to see facts and figures – use percentages to demonstrate growth, outreach and anything else you may have achieved.

Add value to every task you have completed, whether you measure this in monetary return on investment, client satisfaction, brand awareness or anything else. It’s too vague to simply say your campaign “had an impact”. How many people saw it? Did you see an increase in leads/website visits/customer ratings?

Always come back to the question in hand.

This one comes straight from GCSE English – always make sure you’re referring back to the question. Certainly, talk about other achievements if they tie in nicely with the award itself, but don’t go off on a tangent. If it’s an award for employee satisfaction, talk about your teams – don’t start to waffle about profit.

Start your statements with why you deserve X award, and always return to the award title in the concluding paragraph.

Remember your values.

It’s very easy to talk about what you’ve achieved and why you deserve this award. But you need to let the judges know this isn’t a one-time thing: you’ve accomplished this because of your company values. Again, make them relevant to the award – there’s no point talking about your commitment to growth if it’s an award for wellness.

This is your chance to talk about what makes your company special. It transcends the awards themselves – and could even keep you in the judges’ heads for future.

Stroke their ego.

Arguably unnecessary, but it can’t hurt. I like to round off all award entries with a little sentence about why this award is so prestigious and would mean so much to the client. It’s worked with the York Press Business Awards, Amazon and Chambers, not to mention the list above!

If all else fails…

Ask me to do it. I’m still awaiting the results of the Digital Women Awards, so will keep you posted!

katie award
Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
14th February 2020