How to write successful award submissions

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 21/11/2019

You wouldn’t expect to land a job without filling in the application form, and the same amount of time and effort goes into writing a winning award submission.

Awards are a great acknowledgement for your business. After all, what better way to stand out than to be the best cake shop in the suburb, or the most ethical financial advisor in the state?

But a well-written application is required to attract the judges’ attention.

Here’s how to write your next award submission.

Sources of positive information

To begin with, it’s important to know your strengths and to gather information about them from as many sources as possible.

Interviews with key members of your organisation can unearth interesting facts about their motivations and passions which add a personal touch to the submission.

Marketing material contains a wealth of information about the organisation, including milestones in history, size and community outreach programs.

Testimony from clients is another important source of material for an awards submission. If you have a relationship with a major industry client, include it in your award submission as proof of your performance.

If the award is ‘executive of the year’, try to get other senior executives to vouch for you (presuming they aren’t in the running too!)

Investigate past award winners

When an award is announced, it usually comes with a media release extolling the virtues that got that person/organisation over the line.

Study these deliberations for the past few years to get an idea of what the judges thought were winning qualities. For example, they may emphasise community involvement, sustainability or financial growth.

The winner may have handled disruption to the industry in an ethical manner or been an influential member of a professional association.

In each case you should be able to find elements for success that you can amplify when it comes to writing your own award submission. Once you have a list of achievements, find the most relevant to the award and develop these in full.

If the award criteria calls for you to show influential leadership in the industry, emphasise presentations you have made at workshops and conferences, and thought leadership articles you have published.

Read instructions carefully

Eligibility, key selection criteria, industry experience – once again, it’s uncanny how award application requirements resemble job applications.

Pay careful attention to details, especially submission deadlines that can be overlooked as you focus on the weightier requirements. You will have wasted your and your staff’s time if you miss the deadline by a week, so make sure everyone adds the big date to their calendar.

Another submission trap is that sometimes we convince ourselves we are something we’re not. If the award is for industrial design, you need to be an industrial designer! Make sure you qualify for the award by looking realistically at your professional activities. Ask a colleague for impartial advice.

Seek professional feedback

Finally, have someone in your organisation read your submission – or better still, a professional writer who will give you frank feedback for improvement. Not all employees are confident enough to criticise their CEO’s efforts!

There should be no typos and no features designed to annoy judges (such as a 5,000-word application when the guidelines call for 1,500). Judges may have to read hundreds of applications and a misspelled header, or a poorly structured or over-long application gives them an excuse to set it aside.

Following these tips for an award submission will give you a better chance to making it to the award shortlist and beyond. Good luck!

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