Blog Tape

by | May 8, 2024 | Communication

How to win an industry award…

Winning awards can really help propel your career; you aren’t just great at your job because you say so, you will have proof that you are ‘Award Winning,’ and that will really set you apart from the crowd. BUT there are some caveats; the awards must be credible, and to win you must stand out.

As a senior event and recruitment professional with 20+ years of experience, I’ve been asked to judge my fair share of people focused awards or talent led initiatives. To name a few – from Mash Media’s 30underThirty, and the Beam Chris Peacock Young Champion of Change award to the MIA List, EVCOM’s Clarion Awards and the CN Agency Awards. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with such responsibilities. With this in mind, I have seen some amazing award entries and some that were not so great; so, I’d like to share some advice on getting them right.

The first step is usually the written nomination, which will then lead to your application getting in front of the judges, and then possibly an actual interview. This first step is crucial; your nomination is your ticket to the show. Just like your CV gets you a job interview, your written nomination gets you in front of the judges.

For example, I’m honoured to be a mentor for the Fast Forward 15 mentorship programme this year and we are currently accepting applications. Whilst I only get to interview five or six women, these few have been whittled down from the many, many more who applied. There’s always a pre-selection process based on the paperwork and your LinkedIn profile. So, if you don’t put in the effort to create a compelling nomination, you’ll never even make it to the interview stage.

Approach awards just like you are applying for a job and approach them strategically.

Research

First things first, research the awards you’re considering. Are they credible, and run by a credible organisation? Will they add value to your work or business? Avoid vanity projects – you know that ones that say you are in their top 100, but they can’t say why – although they might be flattering, they won’t carry much weight in the long run. And avoid paying to be on an influential list because these really don’t mean anything and everyone knows this.

Get personal

Get personal with your nomination. Don’t just hand it off to a PR agent and expect the magic to happen. By all means, use a PR agent to do the heavy lifting and write the entry for you, but make sure you work together to ensure it’s personal and actually sounds like you. I’ve worked with Jill Hawkins of Aniseed PR for three years, and whilst it was her nomination that won me the M&IT Personality of the Year last year (did I mention that I won this…?), she needed real substance to base the nomination on; she couldn’t have written it (and it wouldn’t have won…) if I hadn’t actually done the things I have. I’m proud of the things I have achieved, but she amplifies my achievements to a much larger audience.

Be proud

Write in the first person; this is your moment to shine, so own it. This is THE time to use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ because it’s you who is being assessed and not your team; the judges want to see the real you – your achievements, your reasons for doing things, your results. I know that meeting professionals are accustomed to putting their clients on the stage, but this really isn’t the place for self-depreciation; be proud of what you have achieved. I know there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance, but you need to straddle it.

Prove it

Telling us you are amazing may sound arrogant, but if you tell us why you are amazing, and back it up with proof, with figures and your achievements then that’s going to wow the judges and show us you really are amazing and award winning. Don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk. Show me the numbers, the impact, the value you’ve added.

Check the criteria

Somewhere on the awards website will be a document with information about what the judges are looking for and how each entry will be scored. Make sure you look at the criteria and write your entry to align with the scoring and decision-making process.

Don’t assume

Don’t assume that judges know everything about you or your company, or that they’ll have the time to interrogate your entry to find out more. Your initial application needs to convey everything you need to say to get you onto the next stage. Give them some background, some context, some meat on the bones. What did you do, why did you do it and who did it benefit?

Avoid cliches

Passion is for the bedroom, not for the boardroom. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what you do, but don’t go over the top – it’s called ‘work’ for a reason.

Everyone who nominates is going to be good at doing their jobs. What are the extra things, the above and beyond, you can mention? You won’t win an award for just doing what you’re paid to do.

Interviews

Many of these awards will end up in an interview, and that’s a whole other column. But my one piece of advice is to be prepared. Don’t try to wing it, it its online then take it seriously, pick a quiet location and treat it as a job interview.

And here’s a little secret: judges love it when nominees reach out to them. So, why not connect on LinkedIn and say hello? It’s like anything – a little polite interaction goes a long way. Trust me, it’ll make you stand out from the crowd.

In the end, mastering award entries is all about preparation, and a little bit of charm. Do your homework, tell your story, and let your personality shine.

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