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By Sofie Farthing

How to write a good award entry

Last Updated 1 Jul 2019

Awards season is well and truly upon us. Businesses everywhere are polishing their writing skills and pulling their best facts and figures together in a bid to blow the judges socks off and earn some all-important recognition for their achievements. 

We love shouting about our successes as much as the next agency, but when it comes to translating this into an awards entry, things suddenly get a little overwhelming. So, what’s the winning formula? Every award entry is different – and so they should be – however, there are definitely a few things that you should avoid like the plague, and the things that should be right at the forefront of your award-writing mind. 

The judges

The judges are the only people you need to have in mind when writing your award entry. After all, your fate is in their hands. Their job is to pick apart and critique your entry and, to make things worse, yours could be the 20th one that they’ve looked at that day. Judges get stressed, bored and soon begin to regret signing themselves up for such a laborious task. Don’t give them a reason to bypass your entry – even a minor typo can turn them off. Instead, how are you going to captivate them and peak their interest? 

Start with your language. A well-written entry is very important. Avoid jargon at all costs, because the chances are that the judge doesn’t speak the same language as you and your industry. Your company’s buzz phrases might seem like second nature to you but to the inexperienced eye, it can be really frustrating that they’re assumed to know what certain words mean. Keep it super simple and easy to digest.

Craft your entry

On the subject of being concise, don’t just chuck a load of statements and data into your entry and be done with it. Start with a story structure and use your content to build on this. Preparation and planning is important, else you could fall into the trap of repetition, empty filler sentences and going around in circles.

Begin with an up-front summary of the story of your entry – your ‘elevator pitch’, if you will. Outline the problem that you solved, the obstacle you overcame; whatever it is that’s going to give your entry the narrative to capture the judges. If you can’t find a story in your entry, it’s not going to capture the judges and it might be an indication that it’s not the right category for you to enter.

Then it’s time to tell the story. We’re talking heroes, villians, tension, resolutions… the full works. Everyone loves a story – particularly one with a happy ending – and keeping to that chronological structure will make your entry so easy to follow and understand. It’s tempting to lie, twist facts and figures and to retrofit the story to fit the resolution but don’t do it. Your mother was right – honesty really is the best policy.

Do’s and don’ts

If you were looking for a simple checklist of things to include and things to avoid when writing your awards entry, then your prayers have been answered.

Here’s what to do:

  • Give yourself enough time
  • Set out objectives and targets
  • Include a quote from a client, if it’s relevant (there’s nothing wrong with writing what you want them to say and asking them to sign it off)
  • Build an internal support team of sense checkers and spell checkers to proof the entry
  • Show it to an involved friend or family member. Do they want to know more?
  • Include figures and evidence
  • Make use of bullet points and sub headings to keep the entry digestible

Here’s what not to do:

  • Make typos
  • Include exclamation marks!!!!!
  • And question marks, for that matter. Avoid rhetorical questions
  • Over-claim or hype
  • Include jargon

Whether you’re focussing your attention on one all-important entry this year, or if you have a few to tick off your list; take your time and don’t enter for the sake of entering. Award wins can be an amazing thing to bring home to the team and to show to clients, so they’re worth getting right.

Good luck and happy award writing!