Have you started thinking about your awards strategy for your senior executives and clients in 2019?
Entering for industry awards is often a major part of PR professionals' work, but it poses significant challenges. How do you ensure your entry copy will stand out among a slew of other awards entries? And how to best discern exactly what judges are looking for?
Lucky for you, the PR News editorial team judges its fair share of industry awards each year, and offers up the following tips for strengthening your industry awards entries:
Use your pitch-writing chops. Awards entries are nothing if not tailored pitches for your clients, senior leaders or campaigns. And just as in a pitch, you'll want to keep your copy snappy and to the point. Structure your entry with the most important information up top, and use links where possible to avoid extra text. Just like journalists who wade through hundreds (if not thousands) of emails per day, awards judges have a lot of entries and limited time. Be concise and you'll be rewarded. Be sure to spell-check and avoid grammatical mistakes, as you would when pitching a target publication.
Analyze past winners. Take a look at winners from previous years and see what they have in common. Do the winners all come from a specific industry, or share a unique skillset? Pay close attention to the similarities and differences between your potential awardee and past winners. If it turns out the category is not a fit, it may be worth entering in a different category. Treat awards programs the same way you treat journalists. You wouldn't pitch a story to a journalist who doesn't cover that beat; similarly, it doesn't make sense to take a one-size-fits-all approach with your awards entries.
Tell a story. As judges read through your entry, it's important that they see a through-line from when a campaign started or a client began working at a company to the achievement you're seeking to get recognition for. What challenge did the campaign or client address? What were some of the pitfalls, and how did they work through them? Think about your exposition, conflict and resolution even as you outline successes.
Choose metrics that matter. If you're entering in a communications, social media or PR-oriented awards program, be sure to include specific benchmarks such as year over year growth or top-tier press placements. In PR, relevant metrics are always changing—impressions, for example, are increasingly seen as a vanity metric. So if you're highlighting the million impressions your last campaign won, tie back to what those impressions mean for the company or client overall. Consider how those metrics relate to business objectives like sales, donations or influence in a specific area.
Leave the jargon at the door. While awards judges are trained to benchmark achievements in their own industry, awards entries should not read like an advertisement for your product or service. Avoid using phrases like "best-in-class solution," "industry disruptor" and the like. Allow specific successes to speak for themselves and your entrant's thought leadership will be apparent.