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Writing a winning entry

There are plenty of things you can do to give your entry the best chance of winning, some are more important than others.  Perhaps the most important is to read and understand the judging criteria, and make sure you cover these in your entry. You’d be amazed how many people don’t.

On numerous occasions our judges have said “I’m sure this is an excellent entry but we can’t compare its effectiveness with the others as information on the key judging criteria is missing.”  Unfortunately, too often entrants ignore the specifics of the judging criteria.

The judges should sit at the heart of your thinking when preparing your entry, as it is they who make the decision.  Treat your entry like any other marketing campaign.  You need to get the judges attention, attract their interest, make them want to read your material, and ensure your material makes them want to give you an award.

Read the instructions

All awards schemes have small print, and it’s important to read it.  If they say “please send us four copies of each entry on four separate CDs” then do. If you don’t follow the instructions you will at best make it difficult to handle your entry, make it annoying to the awards organiser and judges, and at worst find yourself ruled out for non-compliance.

Hit the deadline

The awards entry deadline is not plucked from thin air, it’s part of a schedule for a large and complex process. Hitting the deadline will make the organiser think well of you, and will allow the judge the maximum amount of time to consider your entry.

It is very unlikely that there will be an extension to the entry deadline this year, so don’t put off working on your entry until the day before the deadline.  Be as early as possible with submitting your entry.

Get the judges’ attention

Judges will be reviewing more than one entry. Just as when you turn up to a job interview knowing the panel will be seeing others, the same is true for your entry.

The judges will be spending many hours reading through entries, often in their own time, so you need to quickly identify yourself as one they should invest time in reading carefully and absorbing.

A crisp, clear, but attractive presentation of a supplemental powerpoint presentation in an easy-to-open format which immediately (perhaps on the front cover) makes it obvious why it is the winner will be more eagerly consumed than a deadly dull presentation with 8-point type with the key results on the last but one page.

Be arresting in your approach and use of colour, graphics and materials, but please do make the thing you’re drawing attention to easy to understand, and easy to praise.

Hit the judging criteria

If there is a ‘most important’ tip, then this is it.

Read the Awards criteria for the particular category you are entering (recognising that different categories most probably have different criteria).  Then make sure you give direct, easy to find and clear to understand self-assessments for your entry against *ALL* of the criteria.

For example, the Sector Leaders categories all share the following criteria:

So, when entering keep in mind of the criteria.  If you don’t address the judging criteria, the judges just cannot assess your entry, forcing them to give you a low score.

Commercially sensitive data

It may be that you are supplying confidential information. Usually you are not.

However, we recommend that you err on the cautious side with any commercially confidential data you are considering including in your entry.

If you do include sensitive data as part of your submission, please make clear that this is not to be shared as part of any winners’ case study and/or that the awards coordinator should ensure that any competitors that may be involved in the judging panel do not have visibility of the data.

Still worried?  Don’t be.  The West London Business Awards is a reputable programme with judges that will not disclose any details of entries to third parties or competitors.

Don’t do it on the side

Putting together a good award entry takes time, effort and sometimes money (for example, supplementary photography, video or design).

Be prepared to allocate all three.  If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Indeed, it’s not worth doing if you’re not going to do it well, as only one other person has to do it better than you for you to lose!

Put someone in charge of bringing together your entry.  Give them the information, resources, time and money they need to put together the best entry your organisation can manage.

Put people in it

People are great. They have faces, which look brilliant on award entries. Staff can embody commitment and excellence. Customers can say why you’re great in a single sentence. Use your own people, and your customer’s people to tell your story.

Look at last year’s winners

Why did they win? What did they do that singled them out as the winner in your category? Do you share their innovation, creativity, commitment, excellence, originality? If the judges’ comments about them say they did something really well, and that’s why they won, then make sure you’ve got something similar in your entry.

Keep it brief

Judges are usually spending their own time on judging. Remember that, and be considerate to their needs.

Be efficient in your use of words and space, and communicate your information quickly and efficiently. Reducing the number of pages in any supplements to back up your entry will ensure that you do not test our judges’ patience.

And of course, keep your fingers crossed. Good luck!