It’s difficult to overstate the value of winning a PRWeek Award, so it’s worth taking some time out before you start the entry process to maximize the quality of your submissions.
I’m going to borrow heavily from some excellent advice produced by our UK counterparts for their community in putting together 9 top tips to help you win a PRWeek Award.
- Plan ahead – October 2 probably feels like a long, long way away at the moment, but forward planning definitely bears dividends if you’re to put your best foot forward in the PRWeek Awards. Draft an outline of what you want to get across before you start writing. The entry system now takes place entirely online, but the allowed copy length for most of the campaign, technique and individual awards is equivalent to two pages, or 1,600 words. Your entry needs to summarize the key points succinctly – no waffle!
- Create a story – Judges like a clear narrative, so borrow some techniques from journalism school and emphasize the 5 Ws: Who, What, Why, Where, and When – and throw in a little How if you have time and space.
- Don’t use jargon – The judging panel is comprised of some of the most senior and experienced professionals in the PR client, agency, and services worlds, but don’t assume they know every one of the ins and outs of your campaign or the language of your sector/practice. Skip the big words and make sure you have given background detail where needed.
- Don’t ignore the fine print – Check the Entry Kit to ensure you are covering all of the criteria for the categories you are entering. Keep to the maximum word count and upload the required amount of images to the required specifications. Otherwise you risk annoying the judges at best, at worst being excluded from the category.
- Choose support materials carefully – There is so much temptation to upload everything, but don’t do it. Choose the best and most evocative statistics, videos, images, and testimonials to support your case. In the agency categories, a well-constructed and compelling video is pretty much essential if you’re going to impress the judges.
- Don’t hold back on budgets – details of budgets allow entities and campaigns of varying sizes to be compared effectively. Your budget underscores the conditions under which a campaign was executed. In Agency of the Year categories, the more detail shared about annual revenues, the better. And remember: Respect of confidentiality is paramount to both PRWeek and our judges.
- Think like a judge – The judges might be reading or consuming anything up to 100 submissions. Think about that and put yourself in their shoes before submitting a final draft and make it as easy as possible for them – they will appreciate it and look at your entry in a more favorable light. Make it an easy read with clear objectives. Don’t over-format – stand out from the crowd. Consider having an internal judging panel that assesses the entries before they are submitted – if you can’t convince your own senior management you won’t convince the judges.
- Everyone loves stats – Return on investment or hard evidence of real changes in behavior are both great indicators of the effectiveness of work. Think about bottom-line impact, more favorable brand consideration, and contribution to sales or notable changes to stakeholder behavior. Judges are not impressed solely by media impressions, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers – they want to see operational outcomes that move the needle.
- Submit on time – That’s really an extension of planning ahead, but it will also save you money in avoiding late entry fees.
If you take these nine points on board you will undoubtedly have a better chance of celebrating victory with us at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on the night of Thursday, March 17 2016.